Point/CounterPoint – Installment #2 … Michigan State Tonight

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Tonight, Ro Shiell & Bermuda Bob talk about this past weekend’s games and look to tonight’s meeting with Michigan State at the State Farm Champion’s Classic in Indianapolis … 

Here we go:

Query #1

What was your biggest takeaway from the weekend ???


Duke won big over opponents that did not measure up. That may seem like a trivial point, but over the last few years, the Blue Devils have a tendency to play to the level of their opponents.

Bermuda Bob:

I saw a very impressive bunch of kids who were very poised. I think that Coach K might actually have his most complete squad yet. By that I mean that they are cumulatively capable of completing his vision. They have so many different “looks” that they will be able to keep the competition on their heels all game long. They also look like they truly enjoy working with each other with none of what we’ve seen the past few seasons.

Query #2:

Do you think he will go further than the 7-8 normal rotation, or will Coach K K employ Platoons like he did over the weekend ???


You learn nothing in a blow out.  The true test will be against Michigan State on Tuesday night.  Then we shall see where Coach K’s mindset for the season will be. Grayson Allen has surely forced his hand though.  I see Sulaimon is being employed as a back-up Point Guard, but as the best perimeter defender he should get some burn when playing bigger back courts. We know Marshall Plumlee will be playing, come what may, because the front court is thin.  Matt Jones has shown that he can be a knock down shooter. Semi Ojeleye still needs to work on his handles, or nerves, but his athleticism should help on the boards. I don’t think Platoons will be used that much though.

Bermuda Bob:

Platoons are a nice idea to mix things up, but good coaches will always have their opponent well scouted and have their kids prepared for such moves.

It is very obvious that when Coach K platoons, he has two completely different squads. The Okafor anchored squad will keep the opposition on more of an alert because of his varied skills, from shooting to dishing. “Jah” facilitates the shooters. “PlumTree” #3 not so much, even though he has an impressive increasing skill set.

As for the others, I think they are interchangeable to a greater or lesser extent. So Substitutions based on foul trouble, nightly performance, injuries (God forbid), etc. will be helped by this depth.

My wish would be to see Coach K break from his traditional 7-8 deep rotation, and use each and every one of his 10 scholarship players.

Query #3

Who do you prefer as the starters ???


I have no issues with the current starters of Quinn Cook, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Amile Jefferson and Justice Winslow. I would prefer to see Sulaimon as the starting “2” Guard because I like his defence. Even Coach K has admitted that Sulaimon “applies the best ball pressure” on the team. Also, Cook always plays well, mostly against weaker teams especially in November and December, but we will see if that changes this season.

Bermuda Bob:

There present Starters are fine with me. I like Rasheed being the firm 6th Man, ready to step in, or being swapped into the Starter’s spot for an especially adroit opponent for the night.   I worry about Quinn’s ability to maintain his level of concentration when things go askew, like his shooting. I have already noticed that he still does not shoot well with a Defender in his face. All of his Trifectas have been gorgeous, but they were hardly contested.

Amile gave up his Starting position quickly in Game #1 to foul trouble. He corrected his mistakes in Game #2. A good sign, but he will surely need to stay out of foul trouble to be most effective. If not, the “look” of the squad is forced to change depending on who Coach K decides is his best Sub.

Query #4

Which player impressed the most ???


Coming into this game, Justice Winslow was hailed as a shaky shooter, but he has shown that he can knock down the open Three Pointer (he is 3-of-5 at the moment) and mixes it up nicely by driving to the hoop, finishing with or without contact, however, the most impressive was Jahlil Okafor.

I have a feeling that he hasn’t even scratched the surface on his potential. Fairfield and Presbyterian were so worried about the big Freshman, Duke was getting open looks from the Three Point Line.

Bermuda Bob: 

Shucks, Mate … You stole my 1st Choice, so I will only add that I saw a guy who was a wonderful blend of Kyle, Lance, Shane, and Grant. The sky is the limit for him. I doubt if many teams have answer for his versatility on both ends of the Court.

I enjoyed seeing Grayson not be afraid to take charge and penetrate. He may find some of the competition a bit more stellar during the season, and all too willing to knock him around. He proved why he was recognized by ESPN as one of Top 10 Reserves this year, described as: “… players (who) might not start, but that doesn’t mean they won’t contribute.”

As a rule, I rarely see incoming Frosh, so to state the obvious that everyone else forecast, Jahlil Okafor is the real-deal and a very special player. His personal link with Tyus will pay plenty of premiums all season long.

Query #5

Did any other player stand out in a less obvious way ???


I love the composure of Tyus Jones, he probably didn’t stand out as much as the other Freshmen, but he scored 21 points and dished out a dozen Assists in his first two collegiate games. He registered three Turnovers. One was a steal he lost due to being out of bounds. The other was a great pass that missed it’s sleeping target on the baseline.

Bermuda Bob:

I was happy to see Matt Jones shoot the way everyone expected him to coming in last year. I think he was put in a different role last year. He will be called on to balance the shooting attack giving nothing away on the defensive side.

The same could be said for Semi, except that he saw such little action last year that I joked that I never needed to learn how to spell his surname. That won’t happen this year. He ought to get minutes this year and prove he deserves them.

Query #6

What is your prediction for the Michigan State game ???


When two legends meet it is always a very good game. If Duke wants to win this they have to let Okafor touch the ball on Offense all the time. That’s their best point of attack.

Bermuda Bob:

Tom Izzo has gotten more teams to the Final Four than anyone else. That’s because his teams always play tough with purpose and focus. This year they come in with a paltry #19 ranking in both Polls, without the familiar names of the past four (4) years. Worry not, as I expect they will still prove a formidable test to the defensive mettle of Duke.

This will be an excellent test for the Frosh, who will then get a few more tests later in the week in Brooklyn, but don’t look past the Spartans, boys !!!


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