Duke returns one starter from last season’s 28-win team. While that player is all-American center Elizabeth Williams, it still came with some surprise this week when the Blue Devils were picked to finish second in the ACC women’s basketball race behind Notre Dame.
So far, Rasheed Sulaimon’s time in a Duke uniform has matched how the Blue Devils have fared as a whole.
Two years ago, as a freshman, Sulaimon played in every game, starting all but three, as Duke reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight.
Last year, struggling to find his role, Sulaimon started only 17 times, riding the bench one entire game, on a Duke team that went 26-9 and lost its only NCAA Tournament game.
Now the 6-4 guard is a junior, one of Duke’s veteran players on a team in which the play of its freshmen will go a long way towards determining how the season goes.
Sulaimon figures to have an important role but only if he’s mentally ready to accept it no matter what he’s asked to do.
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Notes from Duke's 20-13 win over Virginia, including Breon Borders' big day and a look at the offensive line's stellar effort
When Shaquille Powell reached Duke’s locker room after the Blue Devils posted a hard-fought 20-13 win over Virginia on Saturday, Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe was there to present him the game ball. Powell’s Blue Devils teammates gave him a standing ovation.
While showing flash and dash offensively as wins came more easily over the last two seasons, Duke quietly worked to develop a grittier, harder edge as well.
Saturday’s ACC Coastal Division showdown with Virginia (4-3, 2-1 ACC) is where that work paid off.
Duke’s defense limited the Cavaliers to one touchdown in the game and a mere field goal in the second half as the Blue Devils stopped Virginia twice in the fourth quarter to protect a seven-point lead.
The Blue Devils mixed in an effective running game offensively, with the running of Shaquille Powell and Anthony Boone keying a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that lifted Duke to a 20-13 win before a crowd of 28,131 at Wallace Wade Stadium.
“We weren’t always clicking on all cylinders offensively,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “Defensively you might say the same thing, looking at the numbers. But you talk about clutch and consistently clutch plays? It was there.”
The Blue Devils (6-1, 2-1 ACC) played without committing a turnover for the second consecutive game. They averaged 5.2 yards per carry against a Virginia defense that entered the day tied for second in the nation by allowing just 2.7 yards per carry.
Duke used an overpowering running game and tight ball security to pull an upset last Saturday at Georgia Tech. To win again over Virginia Saturday (12:30 p.m., WRAL), a similar strategy appears the best course of action if the Blue Devils hope to take key step toward winning the ACC Coastal Division championship for the second season in a row.
Before Week 1, Mack said the Eagles would use a two-quarterback system this season. But Billerman essentially was the No. 1 signal caller and was getting most of the game reps until Week 3, when Bell threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns in a backup role during a loss to Charlotte. Bell answered the bell.
Malachi Briggs, Powell's 7-year-old brother, undergoing surgery for complications with his cancer treatments
Dezmond Johnson, Duke’s starting defensive end who has been sidelined for a month, practiced all week and is likely to play when the Blue Devils face Virginia on Saturday (12:30 p.m., WRAL). Johnson started Duke’s first three games before suffering a right knee injury during a 41-3 win over Kansas on Sept. 13.
North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams got some advice on how to beat Georgia Tech this week from an old friend — Duke quarterback Anthony Boone, who helped hand the Yellow Jackets their first loss last Saturday.
As the start of the 2014-15 men’s basketball season approaches, numerous media outlets recently released their preseason team rankings and individual honors and awards, with the Duke men’s basketball team well represented.
Georgia Tech’s first loss of the season still stings. Coach Paul Johnson said “you don’t get a re-do” and the Yellow Jackets must move past last week’s 31-25 home loss to Duke. Even so, on Tuesday he was still bemoaning his team’s mistakes, including three turnovers, in the game.