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Rasheed Sulaimon: two pictures, one thought

Sunday afternoon, Rasheed Sulaimon and the rest of USA Basketball's U19 team defeated Serbia 82-68 to win the FIBA U19 World Championship for only the second time since 1995. The win also makes Team USA the reigning champion in every FIBA age bracket: U17, U19, senior and Olympics.

Sometime after the win, Sulaimon, who started eight of Team USA's nine games, tweeted out this picture with the caption, "I can't believe it. Momma imma champion. Did it for our country"

It's an emotional shot.

It also reminded me of a picture I took last Easter, after Duke's season ended in the Elite 8 with a loss to eventual champion Louisville. There was a different type of emotion at play then.

Duke basketball notebook: Rasheed Suliamon makes USA Basketball U19 team; UCLA game date set

Rasheed Sulaimon will suit up for Team USA in the Czech Republic. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

A few Duke basketball notes from the past few days...

••• There's an official date for the long-whispered matchup between Duke and UCLA in Madison Square Garden: Dec. 19. This continues the long-standing tradition of the Blue Devils playing a game in the city that's the most popular destination for recent graduates.

Duke will also be in New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament Nov. 27th and 29th, presuming the Blue Devils win their pod games first (according to The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk State, UNC Asheville, and East Carolina are in with the Blue Devils). Arizona, Alabama and Rutgers are the other pod hosts. The Virginian-Pilot is also reporting Duke hosts Norfolk State Nov. 17 in Cameron.

So, to review, here are the nonconference dates for Duke that have been confirmed:

1371595649 Duke basketball notebook: Rasheed Suliamon makes USA Basketball U19 team; UCLA game date set The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Weekend wake up: Positive reinforcement

Mike Krzyzewski has opted to focus on the positives with the media this season. Credit: ROBERT WILLETT

Every Saturday, the News & Observer takes a look around the ACC. That also provides an opportunity to check in with the Blue Devils and look for any emerging trends.

After capping off a perfect home record with a sometimes-ugly 85-57 win over last-place Virginia Tech, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked if he was satisfied with his team as postseason play awaits.

“We’re ecstatic about it,” Krzyzewski said.

Game Preview: Duke vs. Georgia Tech

Mason Plumlee and the rest of the Blue Devils are eager to get back to their winnings ways against Georgia Tech. Credit: ETHAN HYMAN

Duke vs. Georgia Tech
9:05 p.m.
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham
TV/Radio: ESPN/WKIX-102.9 FM
And? Duke tried to move to 1-1 in its new season

Projected starting lineups:

No. 3 Duke (15-1, 2-1 in the ACC)
G Quinn Cook, So., 11.8 ppg, 6.2 apg
G Seth Curry, Sr., 16.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G Rasheed Sulaimon, Fr., 10.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F Josh Hairston, Jr., 2.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg
F Mason Plumlee, Sr., 17.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg

Georgia Tech (10-5, 0-3)
G Mfon Udofia, Sr., 10.0 ppg, 3.2 apg
G Brandon Reed, r-Jr., 5.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
G/F Marcus Georges-Hunt, Fr., 10.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg
F Robert Carter, Jr, Fr., 10.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg
C Daniel Miller, r-Jr., 7.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg

Player to watch:

The secret to Duke's better chemistry? It's not Austin Rivers's absence

There have been a few constants for Duke this season. One is winning, as the No. 1 Blue Devils are 11-0. Another is Mason Plumlee, who has been Duke’s go-to guy night in and night out. And, not to be forgotten, the nightly questions about team chemistry.

After every game—every single one—there are at least two questions about Duke’s chemistry. Thursday night after Elon was no exception. When head coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked when the last time Duke had this good of chemistry this early in the year, he paused.

“Even ’10, I thought we had good chemistry, but it really got good in February,” Krzyzewski said of his most recent national championship team. “I’ll tell you what, Kyrie’s freshman year (2010-11), I thought we could maybe run the table. We had good chemistry right away with that group.”

So, Duke’s chemistry hasn’t been this good since the last time the Blue Devils were ranked No. 1, and, since we’re talking about Duke, that was just two years ago. And before that, you’d have to go back a whopping three years, and the chemistry improved right as the team improved (it was against Maryland on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010, Brian Zoubek scored 16 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in 22 minutes, and that was the start of the Blue Devils’ run to Indianapolis).

12 thoughts on Duke's season thus far


There have been a few surprises this season in Durham. Pretty much all of them have been positive. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

In honor of the day (12-12-12 for those who, somehow, haven't had this pointed out to them at least 12 times today), here's a dozen thoughts on No. 2 Duke (9-0) so far this year

1. Anyone that tells you they predicted Duke would be 9-0 at this point of the season is either a) lacking objectivity or b) not being truthful. Not even Mike Krzyzewski could have predicted this strong of start.

“If you looked at our schedule, I don’t think you could have expected to be 9-0 at this time,” he said after the win against Temple.

In fact, by being 9-0, Duke has done something no team in NCAA history has done before: beat three top-5 teams before the end of December. As a review, Duke beat then-No. 3 Kentucky 75-68 in Atlanta in the second game of the year, then-No. 2 Louisville 76-71 in the Battle 4 Atlantis final and then No.-4 Ohio State 73-68 in the ACC/Big 10 challenge.

2. While Kentucky has fallen out of the polls, both the Cardinals and the Buckeyes remain in the top 10. Minnesota, another Duke victim in the Bahamas, is now No. 13 with an 11-1 record. I was super impressed with the Gophers when I saw them. Rodney Williams (who was held in check by Ryan Kelly) is as athletic a player as you will find in college basketball.

Game preview: Duke vs. Georgia State

Duke will be counting on Rasheed Sulaimon for both lockdown defense and dribble-drive ability on offense. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Note: click here for links to our Duke-specific season preview content. Also, click here to read Tuesday's story about Seth Curry's injury status. As noted below, Curry is projected to start. 

Georgia State at Duke

When: 7 p..m

Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham

TV/Radio: ESPNU/102.9 FM

Projected Starting lineups:

N.C. Pro-Am: Catching up with Quinn Cook, Amile Jefferson and Rodney Hood

DURHAM—While Mike KrzyzewskiChris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski were in London prepping for Team USA’s gold medal game, a quartet of current Duke players were playing in a championship game of their own.

Thursday night, Quinn Cook and newcomers Amile JeffersonRasheed Sulaimon and Rodney Hood teamed up to play for Dream Works in the championship game of the N.C. Pro-Am summer league last Thursday. Ultimately, the de-facto team Duke lost 91-84 to the Banks Law Firm team of Jerry StackhouseQuincy MillerReggie Bullock, and J.T. Terrell (formerly of Wake Forest, now with Southern Cal) among others.

Blue Devils happy out of the spotlight

DURHAM — Much of the preseason talk in the ACC basketball race has centered around N.C. State and North Carolina.

That's fine with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team went 13-3 in the league last season, a game behind UNC for the regular-season title, and has added two McDonald's All-Americans.

"I'd rather have you talk about what we've done, than what we're going to do," Krzyzewski said Thursday at his annual summer press conference.

Interesting second choices for Triangle recruits

Rodney Purvis, evil Twitter genius toying with the emotions of N.C. State fans? Duke recruit Rasheed Sulaimon almost went to UNC?

Those secrets were revealed in ESPN's Jason Jordan's report from the Jordan Brand Classic, which is Saturday in Charlotte. Jordan asked several players, including Purvis, Sulaimon and UNC signee J.P. Tokoto about which school was their second choice.

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