CountDown to the “CountDown …” – Rasheed Sulaimon

 This Article by Bermuda Bob

SDBB - 2014 Profiles - Rasheed Sulaimon Collage

Rasheed Sulaimon was heavily recruited out of High School and came to Duke, playing every game as a Frosh.  That was the year Duke reached the Elite 8.  His future looked bright as the odds-on favourite to pair with Quinn Cook in the BackCourt, but something happened along the way.  He apparently fell out of the favour of Coach K. The reason was the fodder of great speculation.

The truth of the matter was that he was subverted by Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood being cemented into starting roles.  He fell into a quandary as to what his role was expected to be.

Who will forget the game when he sat for the whole game, compared to his role in keeping Duke in their first conference game at Syracuse.  It seemed the tale of two players in one mind and body.

I have not been shy about my worry about the psyche of a player, recruited heavily by Duke, only to find themselves see a player recruited behind them to a starting position.  I’m not criticizing the kids who are recruited such as Jabari Parker, but ask you simply to put yourself in the kids’s shoes.  In the Sports Illustrated article about Jabari last season, there was a reference to Jabari’s mother being able to insist on a meeting with Coach K.  It makes me wonder if each player’s parents can do the same.

So, after a stellar Freshman season, a query of a Sophmore season, Rasheed finds himself, once again, needing to accept a role having to prove himself behind a player recruited behind him.   Once again, I’m not down on that Frosh, I’m just wondering how much a kid like Rasheed is oblidged to be able to accept.

This is one of the unexpected and unreported downsides of the “one-and-done” debacle.  It is apparent that to get those great recruits each year, “representations” of some sort are made.  So, what must go thru a player’s mind, when year after year he is subverted to a player who comes to Duke, have no intention of matriculating ???  Now, put yourself in Rasheed’s shoes.  He did not come to Duke as a “one-and-done” recruit.  He had a wonderful Freshman season.  Then he discovers that regardless of how well he plays, the Starting role he expected is summarily handed off to an incoming kid, who has no intentions of staying at Duke any longer than he has to.  No wonder some speculated that he came back to school less than the Coaching Staff might have expected.

In recent comments by Coach K, we hear things like “I think Rasheed is in a real good place, I think at times you, as you are growing as a young player, you see yourself in only one role. You don’t see yourself in the most productive role. I think right now he sees himself in what would be his most productive role.”

I’m sorry folks, but that does not sound like a resounding endorsement, nor affirmation. I know it leaves me, and most likely Rasheed as well, echoing the words of GrandPa in the movie “MoonStruck who, when asked why he was crying proclaimed, “I’m confused.”

There are two basic tenants, that are well documented in Duke Basketball:

  1. The players must buy into Coach K’s vision for them.
  2. The players must prove themselves each week in Practice.

So, once again, let’s listen to what Coach K has recently said about Sulaimon: “I think Rasheed is in a real good place, I think at times you, as you are growing as a young player, you see yourself in only one role. You don’t see yourself in the most productive role. I think right now he sees himself in what would be his most productive role.”

As a long-time fan and observer, all I have to depend on right now is what is being released in carefully molded snippets. Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer recently noted that “Rasheed needs consistency.”  

Then again, Coach K adds: “He is our best on-ball defender.  At 6-4, he’s an outstanding athlete.  That’s what he does the best.  So concentrate on that, as your staple, your foundation. Then the other things will come.  And how does that fit in to the other things that we’re trying to do ???”

Gosh, I hope that’s something positive because right now, it appears that Rasheed is the proverbial “6th Man” who is expected to come in off the Bench and put fires out … I hope !!!  He is too good a player to be just giving the Starters a “blow.”

By now, you have a pretty good idea that I’ve long been a fan of Rasheed “Su-Su-Su-laimon” as I have been know to Tweet when referring to times when he excels.

I am known for noting that incoming players are nothing but a blank sheet of paper because they come to Duke and face some of the roughest competition in college basketball. We have no way of knowing if they will rise from being the center of attention in High School. If they do, then it’s going to be a fun year, if they don’t, then my prediction of the downside of the “one-and-done” recruit comes to pass.  One only needs to recall Lehigh and Mercer as proof of my contention.

The prevailing thought right now is that Rasheed will rise from ashes and emerge a stronger, more versatile, and smarter veteran player on a team that desperately needs the leadership I hope he will be allowed to bring.

Rock On, ‘Sheed, Rock On !!!

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