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Duke Now is your place for Blue Devil hoops and football. Beat writer Laura Keeley has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @laurakeeley or @accnow.

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Countdown to basketball


In one week's time, Duke will be back on the hardwood. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Get excited, Blue Devils fans: we are one week from the start of college basketball.

Starting Sunday, the News & Observer will begin with the initial round of previews and speculation. Early looks at all four area ACC teams—Duke, UNC, NC State and Wake Forest—will roll out next week. If you can't wait for that, check out my early analysis of Duke's schedule

Game preview: Duke vs. Virginia

Tags: Duke Now


Conner Vernon needs just one catch to set a new ACC record for career receptions. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Duke vs. Virginia

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham

Line: Duke by 1.5

TV/Radio: ACC Network/WRAL, WDNC-620 AM, WKIX-102.9 FM

What they’re saying nationally about Duke:

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel: My preseason Duke-makes-a-bowl prediction is looking better by the week. The Blue Devils are off to their best start since they began 5-0 in 1994 -- also the last time they made a bowl -- following Saturday's 34-27 win over Wake Forest, their first over the Demon Deacons since 1999. Meanwhile, the rest of Duke's division is entirely unimposing. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina are a combined 10-10. Surely there are two more wins to be had in that bunch.

ESPN’s Andrea Adelson: The Blue Devils are not throwing a bowl party just yet, but they are off to their best start since 1994 and have had recent success against their opponent this week, Virginia. Duke has won three of the past four meetings between the two teams. The Blue Devils need two more wins to become bowl eligible, and the way the rest of the schedule sets up, Duke has got to win this game. If they don't, it will be difficult to find two wins in their final six games (at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, at Florida State, Clemson, at Georgia Tech, Miami).

What they’re saying nationally about Virginia:

Duke injury report vs. Virginia

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Sean Renfree grimaces in pain after hurting his elbow against Wake Forest. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

DURHAM—In the aftermath of the Wake Forest victory, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said Duke "was just about shuffled out" when it came to dealing with the numerous injuries.

This week, the Blue Devils will have to shuffle some more.

The loss of Brandon Braxton at safety is a significant blow. His replacement will depend on the down and distance of each specific play, as CB Ross Cockrell and Lee Butler (if he plays) are capable of filling in at safety. Count on seeing more Dwayne Norman, though, a true freshman who is attempting to learn the positions in Duke's system on the fly. If you want a recap of my thoughts on Norman's performance in the Wake Forest game, refer back to my postgame breakdown.

Quarterback Sean Renfree will be a game-time decision. He has been at practice all week and has taken a limited number of reps. Anthony Boone, who led Duke on its two fourth-quarter scoring drives last week, has taken the majority of the snaps. 

Cutcliffe did say Thursday that thinking of all the injuries and how Duke can shuffle his lineup has literally kept him up at night (more on that tomorrow). With the exception of the time he spends lying awake in bed, Cutcliffe has maintained that he is focused on who is on the field instead of who is not.

Duke's toughest problem: attendance


Duke has come out of the tunnel to smaller home crowds than head coach David Cutcliffe would like. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

DURHAM—When David Cutcliffe first came to Duke in Dec. 2007, the football team had many glaring issues, most notably that the players were out of shape and the practice facilities were in disarray. The toughest problem to solve, though, has been low attendance.

“I’m going to be brutally honest, I didn’t realize that attendance was as big of problem as what it would be,” Cutcliffe said. “When our buses came on campus for that James Madison game (Aug. 2008), there just wasn’t a lot of activity outside of the employee picnic that we had. It was like people didn’t know it was a football gameday. And I wasn’t quite ready for that initially.”

Jordon Byas named ACC defensive back of the week


It was a banner day for both Duke and Jordon Byas at Wake Forest Saturday. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

It didn't take Jordon Byas long to recover from his knee surgery.

In his second game this year, Byas was named the ACC defensive back of the week as he registered a career-high 11 tackles and his first career interception in Duke's 34-27 win at Wake Forest. Five of his tackles, including a half-sack and tackle for loss, came in the fourth quarter when the score was tied 20-20.

The Latest in the Lance Thomas saga


Lance Thomas spoke to the media for the first time since news of his lawsuit broke Monday when the New Orleans Hornets opened training camp. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

NBA training camps opened today, and 19 former Blue Devils went back to work. Among them was Lance Thomas, who has had a quite busy offseason. To review:

Video: More on Duke's athletic facilities upgrades

A screenshot from an athletics department video reveals a completely different Wallace Wade Stadium 

Updated 3:45 p.m.

Over the weekend, Duke announced a university-wide fundraising campaign, Duke Forward, that aims to raise $3.25 billion. Part of the plan involves a $250 million goal for athletic facilities upgrades, including major renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium and Cameron Indoor. Read more about the capital campaign in general here. For a look at athletics specifically, click here.

Rewind part deux: Duke vs. Wake Forest


Jela Duncan kept running after a defender twisted off his helmet. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Duke’s 34-27 victory over Wake Forest did a few things:

*Ended a 12-game losing streak against the Demon Deacons that dated back to 1999

*Gave the 4-1 Blue Devils more wins already than they collected in each of the previous two seasons

*Set Duke off on its best start since 1994, the last year Duke went to a bowl

“Things” is also the word the head coach David Cutcliffe used to describe the intangible benefits from finally ending the streak. Check out his epigraph along with the rest of the look back:

The Epigraph:

“It’s a win that we felt like we’ve needed to have happen. We just continued, in this game, to be in a position to win it and not. And you try not to let those things become things, but if you’re not careful they will. Each game has its own personality, but everybody is human. You just didn’t want one of those things in the end where you said, ‘oh my, here we go again.’ We fought it off.” —David Cutcliffe

What we learned:

Duke S August Campbell leaves team

Tags: Duke Now

August Campbell (32) has left the team. Credit: CHRIS SEWARD

Duke's safety unit has been ransacked by injuries. Sunday night, the group suffered a different kind of blow, as redshirt junior August Campbell left the team for personal reasons. Head coach David Cutcliffe said he is still in school and emphasized that Campbell was not forced to leave.

"He's leaving for his personal reasons," Cutcliffe said. "Not ours."

Rewind: Duke at Wake Forest

Three thrid-and-long conversions on passes to Desmond Scott were devestating to the Demon Deacons. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

A full version of rewind, in all its witty glory, will be forthcoming tonight after Duke head coach David Cutcliffe updates the media on the injury reports for QB Sean Renfree, S Brandon Braxton, LB David Helton and CB Lee Butler. All four starters left  during the 34-27 win at Wake Forest and did not return. Until then, a look at what worked and what needs work for both the Blue Devils and the Demon Deacons (hey, consider it bonus information).

But first...

How both David Cutcliffe and Jim Grobe have gone about building programs at their respective schools

How Duke was able to end the 12-year losing streak to Wake Forest Saturday

And now, the quick look back: