Nolan Smith, winner of the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player Award.
words // Nick Engvall
As the defending NCAA Tournament Champions, the Duke Blue Devils are the team that everyone is after. However, if senior guard Nolan Smith has his way, the Blue Devils will become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Florida in 2006-2007. Maybe even more importantly, if the Blue Devils win this year’s tournament it would give them five titles tying them with their rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Nolan Smith has grown into the leader of the Blue Devils over his four years at Duke. This year he has averaged 21 points per game and was voted as the ACC Tournament MVP. Smith’s 20 points and 10 assists led Duke past UNC for their third straight ACC Tournament title. Nolan Smith’s hot hand continued into the NCAA Tournament where he recently dropped 24 points in Duke’s victory over the Michigan Wolverines.
Check out some of Nolan Smith’s footwear during his career at Duke below.
Nolan Smith in the White/Black Nike Zoom KD III.
Nolan Smith in the White/Blue Nike Zoom KD III.
Nolan Smith in the all-black Nike Zoom KD III.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Kobe VI.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Kobe V.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Kobe V.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Kobe IV.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Soldier II.
Nolan Smith in the Nike Zoom Soldier II.
Tuesday superstar Kobe Bryant reached out to Coach K of the USA Basketball team to let him know that he’s on board for the 2012 Olympics. Then later in the evening after he had announced his plans to lead Team USA to Gold in London, Kobe displayed his leadership skills on the court as the Los Angeles Lakers putting on a how-to-score clinic against the Grizzlies. The Lakers moved to 4-0 on the season with the 124-105 victory.
Although Kobe never played college basketball, Nike’s close ties to the Duke Blue Devils have always kept the school that many believe Kobe would have attended had he chose school over the NBA Draft. This Varsity Royal colorway of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI would have been a nice match to those colors worn by the “Cameron Crazies” and with just a week or so to go before the official start of the NCAA Basketball season, we’ll be on the lookout for these to appear in our Sneaker Watch coverage.
Until then enjoy this sneak preview of one of the Spring 2011 colorways of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI.
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College basketball is back!
This past weekend schools from around the country held late night ceremonies to help build excitement for the upcoming hoops season. Last year’s NCAA Men’s Champions, the Duke Blue Devils, unveiled their most recent banner to cheering students and faculty in what the call “Countdown to Craziness.” As the Blue Devils mascot entertained and excited the crowd for the first time in months, it uncorks the passion that sometimes seems to only exist for college basketball. A handful of players, as well as Duke’s Coach K gave some encouraging words, and after, the Blue Devils scrimmaged for the excited fans. The Duke men’s team will open the season by hosting Princeton this coming Sunday.
Of course the excitement for the new season which gets underway for some schools as early as later this week, is not just for the men’s teams.
On the women’s side of college hoops, no other team has been as successful as the Connecticut Huskies. Behind coach Geno Auriemma, the Huskies are currently on an unbelievable 78-game winning streak, the most longest ever by in NCAA Women’s Basketball history. With a handful of incoming freshmen this year however, all eyes are on UConn to see whether or not they can continue their dynasty on the shoulders of these young players.
The Huskies started preparations for the new season with “First Night,” which brought out over 7,000 fans to Gampel Pavilion over the weekend. UConn players and fans will look to continue the win streak and add their third consecutive NCAA Women’s Championship to the school’s heavily decorated trophy cabinet. The Huskies will open up their season November 4th against Franklin Pierce.
Which teams will you be watching this season?
Get ready for the season with NCAA Fan Gear from Eastbay.
words & images_Zac Dubasik
The final player in our series of incoming college freshman interviews may be the most exciting (and best) Duke recruit in recent memory. This week’s draft will see plenty of one-and-done players chosen near the top, something you never expect from Blue Devils players. If Erving lives up to his potential next season though, and chooses to make a quick exit to the NBA, don’t be surprised to hear his name among the most talked about come draft time in 2011.
High School: St. Patrick High School; Elizabeth, NJ
After averaging 27 points, 7 boards and 7 assists per game in his senior season, Kyrie Irving was viewed by many as the top point guard of the 2010 class. After seeing his spectacular performance at the Jordan Brand Classic, where he was named co-MVP, it only strengthened his case for that claim. His play was so impressive that it only seems right that he would be heading to join the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils next season. Sole Collector was able to catch up with Erving to talk kicks, college and about his time at the JBC.
Zac Dubasik: How did you first learn that you’d been chosen to be part of the Jordan Brand Classic?
Kyrie Irving: My father told me. Someone told him, so he found out before I found out. But once I found out, I was happy.
Are tournaments like this something you thought about during your senior season?
From the beginning of the season – like H. White talked about, writing down your goals – I had a goal list from my freshman season all the way up until now. This was one of the goals I wanted to attain at the end of the season.
How does this game compare to the other national games you played in?[Irving also competed in the McDonalds All-American game and Nike Hoop Summit]
This one is so special, because this is the last game of my high school career. This is very special for me, and especially to experience it with all these guys here – they are all great guys. We all have so much fun because we all get along together. That’s very special to me and to be picked for this game is an honor.
So have you actually known a lot of these players from prior to this game?
I know all of them – I know every personality here. I myself am like one of the leaders here, and everybody has their own personality. And we are all special in our own way.
When did you make the decision to go to Duke?
I decided last October. I committed on ESPNU. And once I chose Duke, that felt like the best decision of my life.
What’s it like to play your senior season already knowing you’ve made it to such a big school at the next level? When you’ve already made it like that, what keeps you motivated?
Personally, for me, I’m self-motivated. You always want better for yourself. There’s always someone working, so you have to keep that in mind. Everybody here is trying to make it, so what are you going to do to separate yourself from everybody? That’s something I take into account all the time – just to separate myself. Whether it’s getting up at 6am taking shots early, or working out after practice, or getting those extra shots up. Not everybody is going to do it. Greatness isn’t for everybody.
Do you have any expectations for your first season in college?
You know, my expectations are probably exceeded by Coach K’s. Coach K probably expects more than I expect for myself. I plan on making him happy, but also making myself happy. The next level is going to be very difficult in the beginning, and I’m going to have some trial and errors. I’m just going to get back up and continue to grow. That’s what it’s all about.
Are there any big changes you are expecting as you transition from the high school to college game?
Everybody talks about the pace of the game, but the thing most people don’t talk about is time management. That’s the most important thing in college. No one is there to tell you to make your bed or do your homework. So time management and being disciplined is one of the most important things for adjusting to college.
Have you been a Jordan Brand fan for a long time?
Jordan Brand is my favorite sneaker. Come to my house – I am a shoe collector, and I have most of the Jordans.
Do you have a favorite Jordan?
I like the XIs. I like the all white XIs, the grey XIs, the original ones. And the Space Jams. The Space Jams are the hardest ones to find. I still can’t find them. But I have the grey ones, white ones and the all black ones with the red bottoms. But I can’t find the Space Jams.
Are you constantly on the lookout for new sneakers?
Definitely. I’m always looking for a new pair of sneakers, either to give as a gift to someone or for myself.
Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to about this weekend’s game?
Just having fun. This is my last high school event. I’m just relaxed – more relaxed than I was at the McDonalds game or the Hoop Summit. I’m at home basically. I live right over the bridge, so this is my home, and I’m gonna end it right.
This week’s Monday Memory Lane pays tribute to the 2010 NCAA Champion Duke Blue Devils. Seven years ago in March a guy in a Duke uniform made an appearance on the cover of Eastbay. After winning the Championship this year, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has now collected four national titles with the Dukies (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010). He is one of the more well-respected coaches of all-time.
Page 2 of this catalog was the Jordan page. At the bottom was the last Air Jordan that Michael wore on the court, the Air Jordan XVIII. Page 9 was all DADA. Back when Chris Webber was with the brand and they went patriotic with the American Flag colorway.
Page 19 features the Eastbay Exclusive Air Jordan IX cleat as well as the cleat Griffey wore at that time. Page 35 had the customizable old school throwback jerseys that you could only customize at Eastbay. That Astros jersey is such a classic.
Check back next week as we’ll dive deep into the Eastbay Archive and travel back to the ’80s!