Today, we begin a periodic installment here at Simply Duke Basketball. We call it “Point – Counter-Point” after the many great TV and radio shows that have entertained a thoughtful debate about the topics of the day. Now Bermuda Bob and Ro Shiell step up and apply the idea to Duke Basketball as the season formally begins.
Please join us by dropping us a comment, give us your opinion for just one question, or all of them !!! Here we go …
Can Platoons work for Duke this season ???
Do you think Coach K will use them ???
Platoons won’t work because this team needs Okafor to be on the court for as long as possible if he is going to live up to his Pre-Season Player of the Year nomination!
Platoons have worked for some coaches who have deep benches. Sometimes it’s an expression of displeasure, other times it’s to screw up the opposition. The downside is that it breaks up continuity and momentum. I think it’s an in-game decision and always an option, but Coach K has only used it sparingly. I think that’s the best guess of what will happen this year …
Who do you think is Duke’s X-Factor Player for the coming season and why ???
An X-factor is described as a variable in a given situation that can have the most significant impact on an outcome. In all the pre-season hype, we know what the Freshman, three of them currently included in CBS Sports Top 100 players, are expected to bring to the table. Quinn Cook, Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon, and maybe Matt Jones, are all known quantities.
Therefore, my X-Factor can be one of two players. They both have qualities that, if exploited properly, will make Duke a much better team. Marshall Plumlee brings size to the equation and Semi Ojeleye shot 57% of his Field Goal Attempts and 90% of his Free Throws, in limited minutes, last season. The ceiling is very low for these two guys who, more than likely, will be marginalized in the coming season. If Plumlee can either pair with Okafor, or back him up effectively, and if Semi can prove that his scoring numbers weren’t a fluke, then Duke will be a much better team.
If an “X-Factor” is the pivotal person, I’d say it was Okafor, but if you’re looking for a guy who has changed his game to best serve the team, I’d say it was Amile. He has been adjusting to his body and his incredible wingspan since coming to Duke, but has gotten into Foul trouble often. If he can control everything, he will be the team’s X-Factor.
Is Coach K trying to compete with John Calipari ???
They are two big fish in the same little pond. They are trying to recruit the same players and they are trying to win the NCAA Tournament on an annual basis. So, in that sense, there is some competition. All D-1 coaches are competing against each other in some way. Having said that, I don’t think Coach K wakes up every morning and works out to “Eye of the Tiger” with Calipari in mind! It’s not on that level for him.
On the other hand, I do think that Calipari does set out to challenge Coach K. If you are building a legacy you have to go through the guy who has already established himself.
You are trying to compare apples and oranges. The only similarity they have is their “Head Coach” title. My long-time nickname for Calipari has been “Cal-the-Lip” because he is a great recruiter, but only a mediocre coach. His championship proves the old adage that “… even a busted clock is correct twice a day …_”
What is Duke’s biggest weakness going into the season ???
Defense. Sure, they are generally a “new” team but as Mike Tyson famously says, “… everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I want to see this Defense under pressure before I can rule it out. Plus, you can’t discount the fact that the backbone of this team couldn’t get a stop against Mercer in the last NCAA Tournament.
The Front Court has many questions because it is anchored by a guy who fouled out of one of his most anticipated high school games – against, Cliff Alexander.
Added to that, with Okafor being lauded as a “dominant force,” one can imagine many an opponent’s game plan would be to attack him offensively. That is not to mention the disparity between the Block/Charge on the other end that young big men have to face. If that succeeds then Duke is stuck with Jefferson and Plumlee, two players who are magnets for Fouls themselves.
All this boils down to is that the traditional man-to-man defense might be a struggle.
I do not see a weakness right now because Duke is deep at all positions. They all seem to have accepted Coach K’s vision for each of them, so, it’s a matter of how he uses them. Otherwise, it’s execution, reaction, and how they evolve together.
What do you think is Duke’s biggest strength ???
Depth in the Back Court. There isn’t much difference between Sulaimon, Matt Jones, Quinn Cook, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen. When you add Semi Ojeleye, and to some extent Justice Winslow, to the mix, things get very interesting.
Coach K has admitted: that “You can’t compare him (Okafor) to anyone in the past … maybe Elton Brand, but he’s bigger.” The real question is if Coach K can coach a player with as many dimensions.
Can Rasheed Sulaimon return to his previous form ???
Sulaimon had a strong Freshman season and played well sporadically last season. Who remembers that shot to send the Syracuse game into overtime? At this point, we must conclude that he serves Duke playing big minutes from start to finish.
Will he start this season ? Now that is the million-dollar question.
I certainly hope so. I never quite understood what Coach K was doing with him last season, but, as the Syracuse game proved, he is capable … It really breaks down to the question of if Coach K gets him playing time.
What is the ceiling for Duke …
Final Four, Elite 8, or somewhere else ???
This Duke team is very balanced and if they can play as a team, no one player taking on too much, then they have a shot at redemption for last season.
Barring injuries, Duke could win the ACC and be a Final Four team. I think we will have a better idea in December as they are on the cusp of the conference season.
So, there you go. Our first installment of “Point – CounterPoint.”
Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle for our next installment ???
Want to add your thoughts to what we’ve discussed here ??? Please drop us a line here and we will include it in the next round.