CountDown to the “CountDown …” – Grayson Allen

Today’s Article is by Rowan Shiell

   SDBB - 2014 Profiles - Grayson Allen Collage

Daniel Ewing is a winner.  He was immensely fortunate to have played with some great players at Duke, but don’t let that fool you, he contributed to his record as one of the best winners in college basketball. On the court he was quiet and efficient while our eyes were trained on his more heralded teammates.

He played with Jay (then Jason) Williams and Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Carlos Boozer, the season after they won a Championship.  It wasn’t his time, but he showed promise shooting 45% of his Three Pointers. Later Ewing would be a beacon of consistency while, a legend in the making, JJ Reddick, was finding his legs.

Grayson Allen is no Daniel Ewing.  They may play the same position and are similar in height, give or take an inch, but what they most have in common is they each desired to be a Blue Devil, and their recruitment was just a formality.

The New York Times reports that as a 9th grader, Ewing went to his coach and asked ‘what will it take for him to get on Duke’s radar?’ and after his coach outlined key elements like good grades, and becoming an All American, Ewing went out and affected them.

Grayson Allen wanted to play for Duke as far back as a 7th grader, according to his coach Tommy Holihun.  As a matter of fact, according to Laura Keeley, Allen would have committed on the spot after Coach K’s in-house visit if he had not promised his mother he would think about his decision carefully.

“Growing up, Duke became my favourite team to watch,” Allen said according to Duke Chronicle. “I don’t know what in particular made me gravitate towards them as a kid. I think it’s just the winning nature of it. I’m so competitive.”

If Allen wants playing time at Duke this season he will have to be very competitive as there are many players with a head start on him.  So far he has made an impression.

“He’s been terrific,”  Coach Nate James has said  “He’s one tough cookie. In the drills, he is tenacious. He is like that pit bull that’s been let out and goes at guys no matter how big or how small.”

He may be the least ranked of the current freshmen, but by no means should you expect him to be an afterthought, as he is arguably the most gifted athlete amongst them and is lauded as a terrific shooter.

Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon are the only other shooting guards on the team, but don’t be surprised if Allen fills in at that position occasionally with Quinn Cook or Tyus Jones. One thing about Coach K is that he is very unpredictable when it comes to his roster. Coach could just as easily go with a three guard line-up or four.

Whatever the outcome just know, Grayson Allen is right where he wants to be, competing at Duke and for Duke.

Daniel Ewing won 115 of 138 games he played in four years at Duke. Make that three Sweet 16’s and a Final Four.

If Grayson Allen can emulate this guy, or do better, Duke Fans will be better for it.

– Ro Shiell

CountDown to “CountDown …” – Sean Obi

This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - 2014 Profiles - Sean Obi Collage

Sean is the newest, and 5th, student athlete to transfer to Duke under Coach K.  He comes to Duke from Rice after playing a Freshman season there where he logged eleven (11) “Double-Doubles,” leading his team in Rebounding (26 games) and Scoring (13 games).  He also enjoyed Freshman of the Week honours, and was a member of the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honour Roll.

He is a wide body, at 6’9” and 270 lbs., and thus having an interior presence.  He is described as having good hands and solid footwork.

As a Red Shirt, having to sit out for a year because of his transfer, he will provide immediate post player presence on the Practice Squad this year.   He also possesses a strong voice that ought to distinguish himself as a leader of Duke’s 2nd Unit.

Sean is from Kaduna, Nigeria, and has only been playing basketball seriously since 2010.   His guardians are Steve and Bobbi Eaggers of Greenwich, Connecticut, who welcomed him to the USA at the age of 15.   He would eventually enroll at Rice University and bragged a 3.3 GPA.  Sean’s sister is enrolled at USC, coming to America the same way he did, thru a sponsor family.

Sean cites Coach K admitting to him, “We want you, Sean. We need you.”  That convinced him that he belonged at Duke.

Welcome, Sean !!!

Rock On !!!

 

CountDown to “CountDown …” – Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer

 This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - 2014 Profiles - Jon Scheyer Collage

Jonathan James Scheyer

“Jon” to all of us, is a well known role player at Duke, having led the 2009-10 team to the last National Championship for the school. Very often called on to switch from his natural Shooting Guard position, he always did so with great aplomb.

During his four (4) years at Duke, his pages and pages of accomplishments, are something I suggest you look up and marvel at when you have the time.

He will always be remembered as a deft shooter from anywhere on the Court, especially from the Charity Stripe. His trademark passing and acrobatic penetrations to the basket made some equate him to “Pistol Pete” Maravich. He produced one of the best Assist-to-Turnover Ratios in the country his Senior year.

After cutting down the Net in Indianapolis, Jon went undrafted but was signed to the Miami Heat’s 19 man Summer League roster for 2010.   As expected, he excelled, but his success was short lived. In July, he was poked in the right eye. The injury tore his eyelid, detached and tore the Retina, and injured the Optic Nerve. The injury also caused him to suffer from incapacitating headaches.

Essentially, with his eye fully healed, Jon got some time in with the Houston Rocket’s D-League squad, he averaged 13.1 Points, 4 Assists, & 4 Rebounds. Then he signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the European League and played a year there. He came back to the states, played sparingly in the 76’ers Summer League and for Spain’s Gran Canaria.

As anyone who knows, Coach K keeps tract of his extended family. Understanding the potential Jon could bring to the sidelines, he appointed Jon as a Special Assistant, filling the spot left open when Chris Collins left for the Head Coaching job at Northwestern in 2013. The next year, Jon would be promoted to Assistant Coach when WoJo was named Head Coach at Marquette.

Jon brings plenty to the Coaching Staff, but moreover, as a four (4) year graduate, he understands, along with Jeff Capel and Nate James what fully matriculated players mean to the Duke programme. I’m sure he will be at Duke for a long time, and I doubt if you could find anyone who doesn’t think that it’s a great idea !!!

Rock On !!!

CountDown to “CountDown …” – Nick Pagliuca

This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - Player Profiles - Nick Pagliuca Collage

Today, we profile Duke’s #2 “Walk-On” on this year’s Squad. He is the 6’3” 195 lb. Guard, Nick Pagliuca.

Nick is a Sophomore and embarking on his 2nd year on the squad. In case you’re not too familiar with him, he played more than sparingly last year, but makes a big impact as a Practice Player. Let’s first get to know him, personally.

Nick hails from Massachusetts, and was a National Merit Scholar at The Milton Academy. He is the younger brother of Joe Pagliuca, who was also a “Walk-On” from 2003 thru 2006, playing in 13 games.

Nick is part of an impressive legacy of Duke Alumni. His Dad, Stephen, graduated in 1977, his brother in 2007, and his sister, Stephanie in 2013.

Nick wear the same #45 as his brother.

Dad was a JV player, back when they had such a thing. He is presently a Co-Owner of the Boston Celtics. Nick credits Kevin Garnett – when he was a Celtic – with improving his game. Thanks, too, to Dad for making the introduction.

Some might ask why a student might want to be a “Walk-On” and essentially a Practice Player, thus putting more of a draw on his time.

The answer is that he is a valuable presence at Practice, helping to hone his skills as well as those of his teammates. He is well respected for those contributions, just like so many “Walk-On” players have been before him …

… and like most “Walk-On” players before him, he is a fan favourite, especially with his family connection to Duke.

Rock On, Nick !!!

We’ll be rooting for you this season !!!

CountDown to “CountDown …” – Sean Kelly

This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - Player Profiles - Sean Kelly Collage

Down thru the years, Duke has had many “Walk-On” players, and I’ve always found that each had a very interesting story of how they got there. Well, Sean Kelly is no different !!!

To those of you who do not know him, yes, Sean is Ryan’s baby brother. Well, if you can call a guy who is 6’3” and 195 lbs. a baby at all. You may also know that Sean was the one of the Team Managers for the last three (3) years.

What you may not know is that he is Andre Dawkins’ favourite golf partner. Yes, they are golf buddies, which they took up during Andre’s year off. They were beginners, then became regulars.

Golf is a game that is said to build character because it takes character to understand the interweavings of the game. In the end, the player is always the better for it, when played as a gentleman, and I have no doubt they did so. It was that character that Coach K saw when he decided to add Sean to the Roster as a “Walk On” for Sean’s Senior year.

While at Ravenscroft High School he played basketball early on, but gave it up to concentrate on Baseball his last two (2) High School years.

You can tell the caliber of young man he is by his comment when told he had been chosen to play instead of manage. “You’re talking about maybe the greatest coach of any sport ever. I got to learn from him for three (3) years as a Manager, and now I get to learn from him as a player.”   It is the smart man who looks first to what he can learn, and he will get to do so up-close-and-personal.

Well, Sean will get to learn from practice and from the bench since “Walk On” players traditionally do not get many minutes.

I just wonder how long it will be before the Cameron Crazies begin to chant “Sean, Sean, Sean” as the implore Coach K to give this year’s member of the Kelly family a chance in Cameron on Coach K Court.

Congratulations, Sean !!!

Rock On !!!

CountDown to “CountDown …” – Assistant Coach Nate James

 This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - 2014 Profiles - Nate James Collage

Very often, the overlooked member of Coach K’s support ensemble, Nate James played from 1996 to 2001.  As part of the 2001 National Championship team he was known as a defensive warrior. He brought his defensive intensity to his work outs and weight training.  It would be that vigor that would bring him back to the Duke sidelines in a different role.

Unfortunately, that verve would find him injured in his Sophomore season and Red Shirted. Because of this, he would eventually become the only player ever to be a member of five (5) regular-season conference season championships.  He was a Co-Captain in both his Junior and Senior years, the latter being a National Championship, when he earned ACC All-Defensive honours. It is his defensive prowess that often overshadows his 1000+ career points.

The eternal “role player” type of contributor, Nate’s name was passed over in the NBA Draft, so for the next eight (8) years, his Passport saw more action than he did.  He toured Europe from the Netherlands to France to Hungary to Poland and Bosnia. Add to that Brazil to Japan to the Philippines and you can imagine what his Frequent Flyer account must have looked like.

When Johnny Dawkins left for the Head Coaching job at Stanford in 2008, Coach K brought Nate in as a strength and conditioning coach.  The next year he would be named an Assistant Coach which means he became the first person ever to be part of a team that won National Championships as a Player and a Coach at Duke.

Since then, he has welcomed Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer back to their Alma Mater.

Nate has been credited with working with Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas in their Championship season and just about any player who excelled defensively since 2008.  I’m sure his contributions to Duke basketball make him a valued member of “the family” and causes us all to hope he stays in Durham for quite some time !!!

He earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology with a Minor in African -American studies.

He is married to Bobbi Baker-James and they have a son named Nathaniel Drake James III

2014-15 Season – CountDown to the “CountDown to Craziness” – We Begin with Associate Coach, Jeff Capel

 This Article by Bermuda Bob

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Welcome to our version of the 2014-15 Season Count Down to  CountDown to Craziness” which, this year, it is on Saturday, the 25th of October at 8PM.

So, everyday from today, counting down to “Craziness,” we will feature a member of this year’s Duke team but we start out with a bit ofa twist.

In prior years, we started with the “Walk-On” players, and we were ready to follow that same pattern when we realized that no one ever thinks about the support system Coach K has always enjoyed.

So, today we start out with the Senior member of the three (3) guys behind and on the bench with Coach K.  The reasoning is that they are often the forgotten part of the team – well, until some other team needs a Head Coach, then their worth is fully realized.

In order to give them their proper due, we will profile Associate Head Coach Jeff Capel today, alone. Next, we will pair each of the Assistants with one of the “Walk-On” players to give you, our readers, a bit more to consume.

I hope that when your finished you agree with us that these guys deserve the attention. So, here goes:

 

Simply Duke Basketball - 2014 Profiles - Jeff Capel Collage

Felton Jeff Capel III

Better known as simply Associate Coach Jeff Capel, he is one of the only recruits who came to Duke and started at Point Guard for all four (4) years, graduating in thru 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History.

After a very short lived professional playing career in France, he traded in his jersey for a whistle as an Assistant Coach to his father at Old Dominion for two (2) years.  He became an Assistant at Virginia Commonwealth and after two (2) years became the youngest Head Coach in D-1 Basketball when VCU put him at the helm. In four (4) years, he led VCU to a 79-41 Record, a trip to the Big Dance and the NIT.

In 2006, he was hired away from VCU by Oklahoma to succeed Kelvin Sampson, who left to take the reigns at Indiana.  Even though three (3) recruits changed their minds when Sampson left, Jeff amassed a 96-69 record, making the Big Dance twice, the second time getting to the Elite Eight.  He will forever be known as the coach who guided a young Blake Griffin during his formative years.

In 2010, his Assistant Coach resigned under a cloud of speculation, when a player associated with the Assistant came under scrutiny by the NCAA.  Five (5) underclassmen subsequently left the programme, leaving Jeff with only second tier players. Even so, he eked out a 14-18 record, the powers-that-be at Oklahoma thought it needed a change.  So in March of 2011, Jeff, who was never implicated in the scandal, was without a job and nothing on the horizon.

It’s at times like this, family comes thru, only this time the family was his second family at Duke.  So, after amassing a 175-110 record as a Head Coach, I, like many others thought it was simply an act of mercy on Coach K’s part.

Au Contraire !!!   Since coming back “home,” Jeff has given Coach K a tremendous boost in recruiting.  Moving from an Assistant Coach to Associate Head Coach, he is an excellent voice with the players, mentoring many along the way.  He has also been Coach K’s Assistant with Team USA.

While it took a firing to bring him back to his Alma Mater, he has brought a wealth of experience and experiences back to “the family” and “the family” is all the better for it.

Jeff is married to another Duke alum, Kanika Reale Blue. They have a daughter, Cameron Isabella.

Now, tell me that’s not loyalty, naming your daughter after the famed arena where we first got to know him ???