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Previewing Duke-Wake Forest: Q&A With Duke Hoop Blog

I recently had the chance to talk with Adam over at DukeHoopBlog to get ready for tomorrow's game against the Blue Devils. Adam does a heck of a job at his site and his twitter is a must-follow for ACC fans.

We talk predictions, Ryan Kelly's progression, Head Coach Jeff Bzdelik and more after the jump...


1.) Coach K is playing it close to the vest, but do you think Kyrie Irving suits up again for the Blue Devils this year, or at all?

Due to the unusual nature of Kyrie's injury, I think it's hard to put an exact timetable on Kyrie's return.  Because of that, it's silly for me to speculate on his return.  I know he wants to be back on the court in the worst kind of way, and will do everything he can to speed up his recovery, but Duke and Kyrie's family have been consistent that the number one concern with the youngster is making sure his professional career is not put at risk.  I have no doubts that the program will err on the side of caution.  If that means he doesn't play another game in a Duke jersey, that's what they'll do.  Everyone will know more in the weeks following February 4th, when his cast comes off.

2.) Wake has a habit of making role players into superstars. Who has their career night against the Demon Deacons on Saturday?

If you watched the NC State game, you saw the team put a larger importance on feeding the post.  That wasn't by accident.  Because of that, I'd guess one of the two post players Duke has will have above average offensive games.  Either Mason or Miles.  One of the biggest luxuries Duke has this year though is that there are 5 players capable of putting up over 20 points in a game.  They are also the only team in the NCAA to have 3 players score over 30 points in a game.  Could be anyone in the first seven rotation players really.

3.) As an ACC fan with an outsider's point of view, what was your impression of the Wake Forest coaching situation/hire, and what are your thoughts on Head Coach Jeff Bzdelik.

It seemed clear to me that Gaudio had to go.  He wasn't really ready to be a head coach in the ACC.  Great recruiter, but that doesn't matter much when the players give up on you like they did at the end of last season.  Whether that was the players themselves (I tend to think a lot of it was) or simply a lack of leadership and control, the administration had to do something.   Bzdelik was dealt a rough hand.  Between injuries in the backcourt, Tony Woods leaving, and a team full of youngsters, it's not the easiest situation in the league.  Hopefully, the powers that be and the fanbase will understand that he needs a little time before they move on. 

4.) What was the fanbase's response after the Florida State game? Was anyone seriously concerned after the poor first half against Virginia?

Like all fanbases, there are nutjobs within the Duke one.  I don't acknowledge the people who overreact, and I won't here.  I think there was reason to wonder about the team's ability to win big without Kyrie against high Division 1 talent.  It was the unknown.  Everyone is scared of the unknown.  Duke will be a work in progress for a little while, but I think they've proven themselves on the court since.

5.) Talk a little bit about the job Ryan Kelly has done this year. Are you impressed with his growth as a player?

I'm very impressed with Ryan Kelly's progression.  Before the season last year, he had an illness which held him back from vigorous weight room and conditioning work.  That really showed itself when he tried to go down low against bigger competition.  It also clearly affected his confidence.  After a summer spent in Durham on campus working tirelessly on building his strength and stamina, you can tell he's not afraid of anything.  It's hard to find a guy who was as highly rated as Ryan was coming into school willing to take a lesser role and work his butt off to get his.  Ryan's that guy.  I think his ceiling is a guy like Jon Leuer at Wisconsin, who will be an All-American this year.  

6.) Prediction time: How does the game play out? What's your final score?

I think Duke has too much talent on the floor for Wake, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Wake put up more points than people expect.  I'll say 102-79.