Duke men’s basketball Player of the Week: Week 2…

Grayson Allen

The statline:

Tuesday vs. No. 2 Kentucky: six points on 2-of-11 shooting, three rebounds, one assist and one steal in 28 minutes. 

Friday vs. Virginia Commonwealth: 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in 37 minutes. 

Sunday vs. Georgetown: 32 points on 9-of-12 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 38 minutes.

The good: After a poor performance in the Blue Devils’ 74-63 loss against No. 2 Kentucky, Allen decided to start with a clean slate this weekend. It worked.

Thanks to two monster performances at Madison Square Garden, Allen totaled 62 points to help Duke take home the 2K Classic crown. In Duke’s 79-71 victory against Virginia Commonwealth Friday night, the Jacksonville, Fla., native came off the bench and scored 30 points to set a new—albeit temporary—career high. With 11:15 left to play, the Blue Devils and the Rams were tied at 55 but in a one-minute span, Allen hit two free throws and drained a 3-pointer for a personal 5-0 run that started to cement Duke’s win.

The guard was hungry for more and improved his own career-high scoring numbers Sunday, notching 32 points in the Blue Devils’ 86-84 thriller against Georgetown. Allen was perfect from the charity stripe—converting each of his nine attempts—and made five of his six attempts from downtown.

The bad: Duke is struggling with turnovers early in the season and Allen was not exempted from this. The sophomore guard gave the ball away nine times—and four of those turnovers came in his clunker against the Wildcats.

Allen did not look sharp in the Blue Devils’ defeat against Kentucky in Chicago and headed to the locker room shooting 0-of-9 from the floor. The sophomore guard ended the game with only six points—the only time he’s been held below 25 points all season.

The bottom line: Allen has shown that he can become a scoring machine when aggressive and aware of his surroundings. He owns the athleticism to attack the basket regularly and also boasts a potent long-range touch.

Honorable mention: In his first year at Duke, freshman guard Derryck Thornton is looking to make an immediate impact in the Blue Devil offense. The newcomer—who graduated from high school one year earlier to join head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad—registered seven points against Kentucky off the bench, a career-high 19 against Virginia Commonwealth in his first starting appearance and 14 against Georgetown.

Published on Duke’s The Chronicle

Duke women’s soccer tops Florida 2-1, advances to Elite Eight…

Two years to the day removed from a 1-0 victory against the Gators at Koskinen Stadium, the Blue Devils outlasted Florida once again, this time on the Gators’ home pitch.

Thanks to goals from junior defender Rebecca Quinn and freshman attacker Taylor Racioppi, third-seeded Duke orchestrated an impressive comeback to defeated second-seeded Florida 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., in the third round of the NCAA tournament. A year after being left out of postseason action altogether, the Blue Devils’ victory against the Gators earned Duke a trip to the Elite Eight for the sixth time in the last decade.

“I thought we were really, really good offensively. We moved the ball well. We attacked at speed,” head coach Robbie Church said in Duke’s postgame press conference. “[We scored] two great goals, especially the game-winning one. I thought we defended really well. Obviously we kind of went a little bit on the defensive side at the last 15 minutes or so. I thought E.J. [Proctor] was just tremendous. She has been all year in the goal. We’re very, very proud and we’re very fortunate to be moving on.”

Although Racioppi, classmate Kayla McCoy and sophomore Ashton Miller had the first scoring attempts of the contest, it was the Gators (19-4-1) who took the lead in the 21st minute when freshman Sarah Troccoli broke the scoreless draw with a header from three yards out.

But the Blue Devils (13-5-4) evened the contest just nine minutes later off of a set piece.

In the 29th minute, sophomore Casey Martinez took a corner kick that was deflected by a Florida defender. The bouncing ball found junior captain Christina Gibbons who put a curling cross inside the small box from 25 yards out. Quinn scored the equalizer and her third goal of the season with a slight header that Florida goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese could not turn away.

“It was difficult coming off of last season not making the tournament, but I think what was different from this year is just having that true belief that we can win this tournament and that we’re a good enough team,” Quinn said during Duke’s press conference. “Maybe we haven’t gotten exactly the results we wanted throughout the regular season with some games, but we know that we can show up for huge games and we’ve shown that throughout the season.”

The Blue Devils headed to the locker room with an 8-2 advantage in shots taken, but that was not reflected on the scoreboard, as the sides remained tied 1-1 following Quinn’s score. Just after intermission, each team had two scoring opportunities but could not find enough space to convert.

And then Racioppi broke through.

The freshman from Ocean Township, N.J., notched what turned out to be the game-winner for Duke in the 55th minute with a right-footed first touch, finishing an inviting cross from Martinez and an assist from McCoy. It was Racioppi’s seventh goal of the season and third in the Blue Devils’ last four contests.

Duke’s defense stepped up and made sure the advantage held up for the rest of the game as Proctor and the Blue Devil defenders only allowed two shots from forward Savannah Jordan—who entered the match with 24 goals, the second-most in the nation.

“We had talked a lot about getting numbers in the box and really pressing into them,” Racioppi said. “I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, and put it in the back of the net. It was a great ball and a great deflection, [I was] just pretty lucky. It came across pretty quick, so I barely reacted on it.”

In a rematch of the 2011 NCAA tournament final, the Blue Devils will travel to California to visit top-seeded Stanford Friday evening looking to capture a berth in the Final Four, which will be played Dec. 4-6 in Duke’s backyard of Cary, N.C.

“Obviously with our seed, we understand we have to travel,” Church said. “We do that in the regular season. I think we’re a very good team on the road. We’ve proven that game-in and game-out with big games on road. We’re very confident we can play anybody now if it’s at our place or now it looks like we’re going to California. Not a bad place for Thanksgiving, so we’ll head that way.”

Published on Duke’s The Chronicle

Movie Review: ‘Spectre’…

Released Nov. 6 in the U.S.,Spectre is not the typical film about the über-super-famous James Bond. Instead, Sam Mendes’ second Bond cinematographic product resembles a TV show season finale as it wraps up all the subtle and sometimes not so visible dots that connect “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solaceand “Skyfall“—the other three films in which Daniel Craig plays the titular spy. The bad guy, who was the boss of all the previous bad guys, is punished, but is he completely out of the picture or will he come back in the next movie? The good guy who has been single for a while falls in love, but will it be definite love and will it last? Just like a solid season finale, the ending scene of “Spectre leaves several questions open and unanswered.

After traveling around the world destroying private property and seducing women in Mexico, Italy and Austria—what else does he ever do anyway?—Bond eventually discovers that Franz Oberhauser (Christopher Waltz), is the source of all his woes. Oberhauser’s real name is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) who is related to the deaths of Bond’s dearest people—his parents, former boss M, Vesper Lynd and, if one goes back to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service(1969), his wife Tracy Bond née di Vicenzo. Bond’s archenemy has planned to control the world through omnipresent security surveillance but England’s favorite spy will look to stop him.

One of these questions is precisely whether Bond has finally fallen in love again. Unfortunately, the emergence of love between the spy and the daughter of one of his previous enemies seems abrupt and reinforces gender stereotypes of a weak lady falling for the macho man who is protecting her from the evil. Mendes said that Madeleine Swann—a radiant Léa Seydoux—was a complex and an empowered female character, which is fair but not totally convincing.

An appealing aspect of the movie is the opening scene. The representation of the role of exotic places in the global politics has added layers of complexity to each movie from the very first James Bond film, despite (or shall I say, precisely because of) their colonialism. Just “Dr. No” (1962) portrays the role of the Caribbean in the Cold War, or as “Die Another Day” (2002) displays the political anxiety of the English-speaking world about the rise of North Korea, the opening scene of “Spectre—the celebration of Día de los Muertos in Mexico, depicted through one of the most aesthetic and successful long shots in the history of the Bond movies—could be seen as a commentary on the growing influence of Latin America and its people in the international economy.

Now the real question is, will Madeline Swann have the same destiny as Tracy Bond did? Don’t be surprised if Blofeld returns in the 25th Bond movie and murders Swann. If this happened, would it not that be the perfect excuse to make 007 seek revenge and then retire, handing over the Bond baton to another actor in grand style? As Christoph Waltz shined as a cold-blooded psychopath but only had an active role from the second part of the movie on, he would hopefully be part of that hypothetical scenario. We will see.

Published on Duke’s The Chronicle

Duke rowing to wrap up fall slate at Rivanna Romp…

After taking the baton handed over by Robyn Horner, head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno has one more regatta to set the tone for her squad before the Blue Devils put their competition boats away for the winter.

Although the real action for Duke’s crew starts in March, Cooke Carcagno and her rowers will hit the road to compete in the Rivanna Romp Sunday in Charlottesville, Va. The Blue Devils finish their fall slate facing the Cavaliers, two other conference foes, Pennsylvania, Old Dominion, Columbia and Oklahoma.

“Anytime that we go against our competitors in the ACC, I think it’s great competition,” Cooke Carcagno said. “We’re going to see Virginia again. They are setting the bar right now in terms of [speed, and] we’re going to get the chance to see Clemson and Louisville, so we’ll get to see a lot of people we’re facing in the spring. [Having an early look at these rivals] validates your training. Mostly, it validates why you’re getting up early, why you’re slugging out 40 [kilometers] on the erg.”

The Varsity Eight races start at 10 a.m. and the Varsity Four competitions begin 90 minutes later.

The Blue Devils opened their fall slate Nov. 1, with three varsity 8+ squads and five varsity 4+ boats racing at the Princeton Chase on Lake Carnegie, N.J. The varsity 4+ crew that registered the Blue Devils’ best mark consisted of Phoebe Donovan, Jessica Findlay, Katherine Maitland, Simone Pitre and Isabel Ruby-Hill with a time of 17:29.372.

The varsity 8+ squad formed by Donovan, Findlay, Maitland, Pitre, Ruby-Hill, Katie Dukovich, Elizabeth Horne, Sophie Simister and Alex Stonehill finished 17th with a time of 15:31.203.

Sunday’s race will help Cooke Carcagno apply the lessons learned in the Princeton Chase and continue to strengthen her bond with the Blue Devil rowers.

The Blue Devils will have a long break to prepare their spring slate, which starts March 19 with a scrimmage in Clemson, S.C. One week later, they will travel to Redwood Shores, Calif., to participate in the Pac 12 Challenge.

“I think all four of the classes have stepped up a ton,” Cooke Carcagno said. “The seniors are starting to really provide some solid leadership to the team. They were a little hesitant before. The freshmen have gotten so much better. They’re finally starting to get serious about what they are doing. We’re all in a very new position. The assistant coaches and myself, we’re all figuring out how this team is different from the team that we coached in the past. That’s been a little bit of a learning process but I’m really excited.”

Published on Duke’s The Chronicle

Ischiropoulos to represent Duke fencing at North American Cup…

Dean Ischiropoulus has one goal this year—to participate in his second consecutive NCAA tournament. But to achieve that, the sophomore epée has to fence first.

Ischiropoulos will be the only Blue Devil traveling to Kansas City, Mo., to participate in the November edition of the U.S. Fencing Association North American Cup, which runs Friday through Monday. For the sophomore from Media, Pa., the event hosting more than 200 national and foreign fencers marks his first fall tournament, as he did not compete in the summer and did not attend the NAC’s October edition in Richmond, Va.

“It will be a good benchmark to see where I am at,” Ischiropoulus said. “I’m looking to do well because that would mean that I’m at a good spot. But if I don’t, [I will] know what I need to work on heading into January so I can be ready to go for our first meet.”

In his first year as a Blue Devil, Ischiropoulus posted a squad-high 37-26 record in the epée category. He captured third place at the ACC Championships in Chapel Hill in February and earned a seventh-place finish in the Mid-Atlantic/South Regional tournament hosted at Duke one month later.

Even though the epée squad collectively posted just a 10-11 record, Ischiropoulus and his teammates earned a bronze medal and defeated North Carolina and Boston College at the ACC Championships. The epées had already beaten the Tar Heels in the Duke Meet Feb. 7.

“The main thing that I’m looking to be good at is to be mentally focused and prepared for real competition,” Ischiropoulus said. “I’ll be happy if I can do that because then the physical part of [the competition] will flow and everything will work out.”

Ischiropoulus’ season culminated last spring with a trip to Columbus, Ohio, to participate in the NCAA Fencing Championships, where the freshman finished 18th, claiming nine bout victories.

“I look forward to seeing what Dean will be doing,” Duke head coach Alex Beguinet said. “He has experience so we’ll see what happens. I think he’ll do well.”

Ischiropoulus and the Blue Devils start their spring slate Jan. 16 in State College, Pa., where they will compete at the Penn State Duals.

Published on Duke’s The Chronicle