Point/CounterPoint #15 – After the Virginia Tech Game

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Today, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob cover the surprising Virginia Tech game, “Oaks,” Amile, “Quinny,” and Saturday’s visit by Syracuse to Cameron.   Here we go:

Query #1

The usual question just has to be asked, so here goes:  

What did we learn about this Duke team from their performance against Tech, or maybe the lack thereof ???

Rowan:

Nothing new was learned. Duke has no Rim protection and perimeter defense can lapse at times.  We also learned, or it was reinforced, that Quinn Cook is a very resilient fellow.  He will fight until the Final Whistle and has silently become Duke’s MVP.

Bermuda Bob:

Well, I’m of the opinion that we can never be too sure which Duke team shows up.  As many folks who do not get ESPN3 lamented, we did not get to see the game until the 1st Half was almost over.  Expecting to find Duke blowing out a 2-12 Va. Tech, we were flabbergasted !!!   Once again, as you have pointed out so many times, it seemed that Duke was playing down to the level of it’s competition.  Then, all of a sudden they awoke and realized they were in danger of losing.  Fortunately, it was in time, but just in the nick of time !!!

Query #2

“Oaks” had a career high of 30 points and 7 of his 9 Rebounds were on the Offensive Boards.  

Does it matter that neither he, nor anyone else, did not log a “double-double” ???

Rowan:

I can’t understand how he can be so nimble on the Offensive end and much less so on Defense. There is no set goal for anyone to achieve a “double-double” every game, at least none that I am aware of.

Bermuda Bob:

I agree that there is no goal of a “double-double” but the media seems obsessed with it. I think if you look at the stellar shooting of Va. Tech. you will realize the cause for so few Defensive Rebounds.  There simply were not many Rebounds to be had !!!  As a matter of fact, this was the worst Defensive Rebounding outing of the season for Duke. Of course when most of your opponent’s shot are going in, there just ain’t many Defensive Rebounds out there to be had !!!

Follow up Query:

What do you think of this tweet by @JeffBorzello, one of ESPN’s CBB Recruting Insiders ??? 

“If Jahlil Okafor has a chance to go against the defensive version of himself, he would score 50 points a game.”

Rowan:

Yikes !!! They have discovered Duke’s worst kept secret.

Bermuda Bob:

Ha !!! It would be more fun to see what would happen if “Oaks” were able to double-team himself, since he is more often double-teamed than not.  That could be the next version of “Twilight Zone” (CBB version) !!!

Query #3

Quinn Cook scored 26 Points on 6 of 11 from outside the Arc and 8 of 13 otherwise, plus 4 of 6 from the Charity Stripe.

Coach K sez he’s a 1st Team All-Conference Player.  

How does his continued performance compare to other Guards in this year’s class ???

Rowan:

When I hear First Team All-Conference only two names immediately spring to mind, Jerian Grant (17ppg, 6.6apg) and Malcolm Brogdon (14ppg 4rpg and 3 apg).  How does Cook compare to these guys ???

Duke’s lone Senior averages 16 Points, 3 Rebounds and as many Assists, but in the last 5 games he has failed to score over 20 Points only once, and that was a 17 Point game performance at Syracuse. 

Of the listed players only Jerian Grant plays as many minutes for his team (36 mpg) as Cook does for Duke.  As the Blue Devils are now second in Conference Standings and with Virginia’s players neutralizing each other, I think that First Team All Conference is a lock for Cook but he should have higher ambitions than that.  We should probably be discussing Cook as the Conference Player of the Year.

Bermuda Bob:

I think the knee-jerk voting will allow “Oaks” to sweep as many non-specific awards as possible. Of course, “Quinny” ought to be in line for the Bob Cousey and Jerry West Awards for exceptional Guard play.  I sincerely hope that consideration be given to the level of competition in the conference, as opposed to someone who is simply a shooter.

Query #4

Amile only played 14 minutes.  He logged in 6 Rebounds, 3 on each side of the Court.  He also blocked a shot and had an Assist, yet most of his minutes went to Matt, and a few to “Plums” and Grayson.

Coach K sez he has no “dog house” so what do you think is going on with Duke Co-Captain ???

Rowan:

I haven’t seen any egregious mistakes on the court from Jefferson, at least nothing worse than any other player.  DukeBasketballReport has tracked each player’s minutes before and after Rasheed Sulaimon, and Jefferson is the only player playing less.  They attributed this to Coach K playing a smaller lineup more often.  This doesn’t make that much sense because Jahlil is playing 33 minutes, so maybe they mean a smaller line up with the big fellow. Justise Winslow has been very effective at the “four spot,” has been hitting the boards hard, so maybe Coach K likes exploiting that mismatch.

Jefferson’s Free Throw shooting leaves a lot to be desired, but right now he is Duke’s best pick and roll defender among the “Bigs.”  Whenever he switches on to a Guard, it is not considered a mismatch with those long arms !!!  He is still an effective Low Post scorer and an above average Rebounder.

Do you remember how they beat Louisville ???  That was a beautiful game with Jefferson being effective in the High Post or around the Free Throw Line, and Okafor in the low post.

The man in the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 Zone will be important.  It may be Jefferson, but more likely Winslow, but just know either can be effective.

Bermuda Bob:

OK, it’s time for some truth.  Even though Amile has the second highest scoring average among Starters, he is not the greatest scoring threat.  He is more likely to score on a “put-back.”  He will not turn from the High Post and throw up a 15 footer, nor will he shoot even as much as Tyler Thornton did from outside the Arc.  That means that Defensive Players can “lay off” of him outside the paint and are available to double-team “Oaks.”

Matt Jones is more likely to have a good scoring night from distance, and he more-often-than-not plays good Defense.

You’re correct about his performance from the Charity Stripe, as he is only a smidgen better than “Oaks” there.  That pick-and-roll performance is certainly correct, but it only seems to happen when “Oaks” is off the floor.

I originally got caught up in an upperclassman Co-Captain not playing, or even the affect of Rasheed’s dismissal.  Looking at the big picture, at this time of year, one has to look at what works, and I’m sure that’s what we all want, even Amile !!!

Query #5

The Hokies shot and amazing 54.5% from outside the Arc, 53.4% from the Field, and 80% from the Charity Stripe.  There were plenty of folks on Twitter who were critical of Duke’s defensive prowess.   After the game, Coach K blamed it on “slippage,” insinuating he could not practice the team hard.

What do you make of that ???

Rowan:

All I can say to that is, when Duke came back into the game, around the 11 minute mark, Jahlil Okafor was sitting on the bench.  He is an amazing talent who “mails it in” on Defense.  When his teammates are watching him in the Low Post, they become very complacent.  In contrast, whenever those same teammates are all involved on Offense, they are incredibly active on the other end of the Court.  They are not beaten so easily off the dribble.

I want to give Virginia Tech some credit but I can’t see past the fact that Jalen Hudson scored a career high 23 points, while averaging only 6.5 a game.

I have heard some cries that maybe Duke could have gone to a Zone much earlier and taken the fight out of Virginia Tech, but they played most of the 1st Half in their weakest Man-to-Man Defense.  So, by the time they started playing Zone, VT’s confidence levels were off the charts and they were hitting everything they threw at the rim.

Bermuda Bob:

By anyone’s standard, the Va. Tech shooting was incredible. It has only been surpassed in a Duke game by the Blue Devil’s annihilation of Notre Dame in Cameron, where they shot 60% from outside the Arc, 61% from inside, and 73% from the Charity Stripe. In that game, Notre Dame played the same abysmal defense Duke played for most of the game. Fortunately, the difference is Duke woke up from their slumber in time to get into OverTime.

Your point on “Oaks” is not lost on me, especially if you note that towards the end of the game, where Coach K was making defensive/offensive substitutions.  He routinely took “Oaks” out in defensive situations and it paid premiums.

Sometimes, I believe the obvious, that “Oaks” “plays” defense so as not to get into foul trouble and be able to stay on the Court to score. Don’t take that as selfish when Coach K sez that everything goes thru him !!!

Look, I like the kid as much as any other Duke player, but there has not been a who played equally on both side of the Court since maybe the great Wilt Chamberlain.  That is why I am not a fan of NBA play anymore.  It seems to be that a player who excels on both sides of the Court is considered to be mediocre, even if he logs in Points and Rebounds in the teens every game of the year.  It is yet another negative impact of the “one-and-done” that is so distasteful to me.

Query #6

Tied for 5th place in the ACC with North Carolina, Syracuse is not rolling over and playing dead, even though they will have no post-season games.  They gave Duke a run for their money in the Carrier Dome and “Oaks” was very complimentary of Rakeem Christmas.

What do you expect this time in Cameron ???

Rowan:

They have nothing to lose, but there are some sub-plots to consider. Rakeem Christmas is a Senior and has NBA aspirations. Who best to prove yourself against than the potential first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft? Christmas thinks that he missed some easy shots and looks forward to the second matchup according to Syracuse.com. 

Jim Boeheim is next in line to crack 1000 Wins in Division I Men’s Basketball. He isn’t going to give Duke a win would he? Not again! Surely he will want to avenge his indiscretion last season.

Michael Gbinige comes back to Cameron.  

Bermuda Bob:

Well, “Silent G” will certainly be comfortable with the tims at Cameron, and I believe that the fans will be classy and welcome him back … well, as long as he doesn’t duplicate his effort back on the 14th.

Yes, regardless of where they are not going in post-season play, they would love to clip Duke at home, even more so than at the Carrier Dome.

The battle between Christmas and “Oaks” should be a good one, and I look forward to seeing them both on both sides of the Court. That would bode well for Duke going forward.

Query#8

With three games left in the regular season, what do you think of the season so far ???

Rowan:

It has been a very emotional season. Shouting at inanimate objects (TV) hair pulling etc. For a team that appears to be one of the best in college basketball, they have had one too many close games.  You just never know what Duke team will show up, but it has been fun rooting for these guys.  One thing I must say is the season has gone by pretty quickly !!!

Bermuda Bob:

WOW !!!   So, I’m not the only one yelling at the TV during a game ???  It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

I was heartened that Duke proved that they had a “Plan B” when “Oaks” went down briefly.  While that’s not something I want to see, it also means that foul trouble might not weigh as heavily on Duke in the post-season.   It also demonstrated that Duke is capable of stellar Defense under certain circumstances.

 

A Special Thanks to you, our readers !!!  

We welcome your comments here as well as on our Twitter address at:

@SimplyDukeBB

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Point/CounterPoint #14 – After Clemson …

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about the Clemson game, the weekend homage to Dean Smith, and make a wonderful recommendation to get to know Jahlil Okafor … 

Query #1

We always ask this, especially after an exceptional game like Clemson, so what did we learn after this game ??? 

Rowan:

Well to state the obvious, Duke is still a pretty formidable team without star Freshman, Jahlil Okafor.

Bermuda Bob:

Recalling the old John Houseman Smith Barney commercial, Duke won the game “… the old fashioned way …”   They EARNED it !!!

Granted, Clemson has been having a rough season right from the start, but Duke proved that in the event “Oaks” gets into foul trouble, they have a very capable “Plan B” !!!

They also proved that they can still prevail, even when the Trifectas are not dropping. Duke shot 35% on 7 of 20 shooting from outside the Arc.  Also, while we’re talking about shooting, the team converted 11 of 13 from the Charity Stripe.

Query #2

Who would you give the Game Ball to ??? 

Rowan:

I want to give it to Justise Winslow with his “double-double” and a personal best of 13 Rebounds, but Quinn Cook already has it with 27 points, 4 rebounds and as many assists.  Cook controlled the game from start to finish.

Bermuda Bob:

OK, then I’ll give my Game Ball to “The Chief” – Justise Winslow, in recognition of his inspired play and looking like the player from earlier in the season. We have both noted that his contributions were needed so very much.

Query #3

Marshall Plumlee and Grayson Allen got plenty of minutes each.                   Who impressed you more ??? 

Rowan:

Grayson Allen scored 10 points in 18 minutes, but I like how Marshall played.  He didn’t have the stats but played big on a night when Amile Jefferson was a no-show.

Bermuda Bob:

I’m just so pleased to see Grayson getting time on the Court in this Guard-heavy Duke team.  Each and every game he demonstrates the athleticism and verve he was recruited for.  As I’ve said so many times before, a Frosh cannot get better without actual game experience.  I understand he started as odd-man-out, but with his demonstrating that he is up to the challenge, he ought to be seen more in important circumstances.

I agree that “Plums” played important minutes very well that do not show on the Box Score.  I will continue to say that, especially as the only “big” in a 4 Guard line-up, he HAS to stay around the Paint and stop with those goofy looking and rarely effective Picks outside of the Arc.  He does not have the hands for Pick-and-Roll plays, and his best chance at not being Boxed Out is remaining down low.

Just to humour me, notice in the next game, how often one of those goofy Picks produces a score, versus his missing out on a Rebound for a Put Back.  In this game, he had no Offensive Rebounds because he was always out of position and easily Boxed Out while trying to return to where he should have been positioned.  I’m totally surprised the Coaching Staff has not “delivered” him from that predilection.

Query #4

Justise Winslow looked like his old self from the beginning of the season with a huge “double-double” of 20 Points and 13 Rebounds.  Did you notice anything different in his play now from early on, before he was injured ???

 

Rowan:

From the start of this game it was obvious that Justise Winslow’s strength is penetrating off the dribble.  Teams usually clog the middle to prevent that. Plus, with Okafor taking up so much space on the Block, it is normally crowded around the basket, with the double-team assigned to stop the Freshman Center.  Against Clemson, at least in the 1st Half, the Lane was open for business and Winslow took advantage of that.  Clemson made an adjustment, closing down the middle, in the 2nd Half that slowed him down.

Winslow was also great on the boards filling in for Okafor.

Bermuda Bob:

I was so pleased to see “The Chief” back in the form we came to expect from him, early on. Understandably, he was victimized by much-too-much contact Referees routinely allow in the Lane.  Plus, in more than one game, he had gone to the floor for a loose ball, and made awkward contact with the floor on his shoulder.  He has an uncanny way of scoring in some of the strangest situations, and the most unseemly angles. He’s also a viable threat from outside the Arc !!!

I’m glad he is back in time for the March run !!!

Query #5

Should we be worried about Amile Jefferson, because in a game where he was meant to play huge minutes, he played far less than Marshall Plumlee, without the burden of foul trouble ??? 

Rowan: 

Against Syracuse Amile scored 13 Points, had 5 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.  Without Jahlil Okafor, Amile started at Center and only played 16 minutes, registering 2 Points, 2 Turnovers, and a Foul.

A very strange season indeed, so far, for the Junior.

Bermuda Bob:

In Ocean’s 12, a character named Matsui gave us the expression “Lost in Translation” where he spoke in odd machinations that meant nothing to anyone except one of the few people he was speaking to.  I would have to say that Amile’s season is one that is “Lost in Translation” because there are times when he appears, playing very well, and times when he simply disappears on the floor.

Some folks have postulated that part might have been due to his relationship with the banished Rasheed as they also share the same classes.  If that is so, maybe we have a peephole into why Sulaimon received his pink-slip.

All this means that neither of us has a clue as to his erratic play this season. I surely hope something changes in time for the tougher play that is guaranteed ahead !!!

Query #6

Coach K made sure the energy was “up” for the entire game, and made no bones about crediting the “Crazies” as the “6th Man.”  Down Tobacco Road, Coach Roy Williams chided his crowd, on the eve of the Dean Smith memorial service for not being all that involved in the game.  The media thought him to be wrong.  What say you ???

Rowan:

I think William’s problem was that the crowd was not clued in to what they were doing when they paid homage to Dean Smith with the “Four Corners Offense” play.  To be fair not many fans recognise basketball plays.  That play was designed specifically to burn time without the use of a Shot Clock.  To play it at the beginning of a game would cause me to be confused at best.  I believe the play resulted in a score but barely as the Shot Clock almost expired and the pass was almost stolen or deflected.

It is one thing to pay homage to a great man off the Court, but in live action with the season they are having !!!

Then you have to factor in the age of the students, most of them wouldn’t know the “Four Corners Offense” if it jumped up and hit them in the face.

I thought it was a good tribute until William’s attack.

Bermuda Bob:

You have hit the nail squarely on the head, Mate !!!   I believe that present Carolina fans know who Dean Smith was, and that he was a cornerstone of everything that is good and true about the university.  I do not believe they know why.  I don’t believe they know much more about his coaching than what hangs from the rafters in the building named for him.

I understand that Coach Roy Williams wanted to honour Dean Smith by bringing back the “4 Corner Offense” by raising his 4 fingers, as his mentor did way back when.  Later, Coach Roy explained how the team practiced it in secret.

Ricky Nelson sang a song where he noted: ” … no one recognized me, I didn’t look the same …”  So when THIS Carolina team did something that THOSE Carolina teams of old (before the Shot Clock was instituted) they “… didn’t look the same.” 

I have to wonder just how many of those in the Dean Dome were even born when the Shot Clock was instituted … to thwart the genius of the “4 Corner Offense” … some 30 years ago.

As someone who is often guilty of over-thinking things and then getting one’s feelings hurt when it’s not appreciated, it takes one to know one, and I saw it as a mistake right from the start.

I think that in this situation, under the circumstances, with Coach Roy being of the purest intent, he had the right to have his feelings hurt.  That’s what his comments meant to me, and I surely felt for him !!!  If anyone thought otherwise, I’ll bet they never lost a mentor of the stature of Dean Smith. 

To our Readers:

There is a wonderful video entitled:  “Jahlil Okafor:  Playing with Purpose” that was done by a local Fox affiliate.  If you have not seen it yet, we most heartily suggest it to you.  It will tell you so much about why he is who he is !!!

Here’s the link:

https://amp.twimg.com/v/8c5b2708-fcc6-43e0-bd05-3f72474fd4cb

 

Thanks for reading.  We welcome and hope you will comment on our thoughts, and add you own !!!

Also visit us at:      @SimplyDukeB

 

Point/CounterPoint Installment #13 – After the UNC Game #1

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In this Installment. Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob answer some of the questions left unanswered about the Duke-Carolina game at Cameron, the first of the yearly series …

Query #1

We always seem to ask this question because this team continues to mature and gain poise, but aside from that, what did we learn from this performance ??? 

Rowan:    You learn a lot about a team that is down by 7 with 90 seconds left on the clock, and who are able to claw their way to Overtime, then seal the victory. To quote Bill Raftery, “Onions !!!” 

Bermuda Bob:

Very well said !!!   I’m sure Coach K has found an opportunity to thank and praise the efforts of Duke’s “6th Man” – The Cameron Crazies. I basically think we learned that these young men are growing up fast, because they have had to. It is a very good thing as March approaches quickly.

Query #2        

All the Starters were in Double Figures …

Who do you give the Game Ball to ???

Rowan:

Quinn Cook started out the game with some hot shooting, keeping North Carolina at bay, even though they were playing better.  I have to credit everyone for playing at an incredible level, especially Jahlil Okafor for coming back out after an injury sustained in the 1st Half.

I didn’t think he needed to play the whole 2nd Half, but Marshall Plumlee did not exactly sell himself as a viable replacement in limited minutes. Hopefully, it is just a precaution but I understand the Freshman is now wearing a boot. He played a good game and rebounded well on a night when Duke was struggling to control the boards, especially on the Offensive side.  In the end the gap in rebounds was not as big as it looked like, 49-46, but that’s because Duke was able to address that issue during the game. Okafor had a huge part in that.

The game ball goes to Tyus Jones. When the game was all but lost, he went through the UNC defense like a hot knife through butter, scoring 9 straight points at one point, not to mention sending the game to overtime with a driving layup.

Bermuda Bob:

I agree with you on Tyus. It’s funny that he originally described himself as a “pass first” type of Point Guard. That’s hard to believe by just looking at the Box Scores, but watching him on the floor shows a very special dimension. He has emerged as the “take charge” guy who reminds me a bit of Bobby Hurley in the way he does that. Inasmuch as he gets the ball to who needs it, and if that’s not available, he takes it himself.  I also love his deflecting praise to his teammates. That’s wonderful !!!

Query #3

Immediately after the game, which ESPN was “all in” and began to crown Quinn and Tyus as maybe the best BackCourt in CBB.  Remember when everyone was worried about how they would work together ???  What do you think now ??? 

Rowan:

I am not sure about them being the best backcourt but I think they work very well together. Not many BackCourts score 44 points in such a monumental game though. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but I cannot anoint them the best backcourt, yet.

Bermuda Bob:

Let’s face it, the media jumps to ridiculous conclusions, and I have always wondered how a coach keeps his kids from actually believing all of it. The idea is that they must keep an “even strain” for the sake of the team, and when they do, they shine.

The best aspect of all of this is I do not think anyone has thought about the earlier concerns for one moment thru this season. That’s a great thing going forward because it means that this great mindset is imbedded. 

Query #4

Coach K essentially only played 6-Deep, giving “Plums” only 7 minutes and Grayson 4 minutes … 

What do you think of that ??? 

Rowan:

Whenever Coach K is in a dogfight he doubles down and goes back to his tried and trusted method of relying on his First Five, unless foul trouble forces his hand. I thought Grayson Allen looked good in limited minutes, but Plumlee looked outclassed.

Do you think Jahlil Okafor should have played that much on such a bum ankle ???  

Bermuda Bob:

I have heard a lot of ideas, and even proffered one myself in liking the old fashioned 2-1-2 with Amile in the Center position and “Oaks” and “Plums” at the Forwards.   I’m not the Coach, and I’m sure they have thought of it. I think seeing Grayson more often is more likely as he is developing well into the player we expected him to be.

Coach K noted that he relied on the adrenaline pumping to keep “Oaks” going despite the pain. I think putting him on the Bench would have not allowed him to take advantage of Carolina’s single-teaming him, plus, on the Bench, he might have stiffened up, making re-entry to the game difficult.   I’m also pretty sure that the team OrthoPod OK’d his playing further on.

Query #5

After using it here and there since the Louisville game, why don’t you think we saw a Zone in this game ??? 

Rowan:

I thought I saw glimpses of am occasional Zone but I guess perimeter offense was not too much of a threat. Nate Britt had his moments and Marcus Paige had a tough night. The damage was being done on the inside by Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks. I don’t think Roy Williams knows what he has with Joel James because he could have reproduced Johnson’s contribution after he fouled out.

Bermuda Bob:

I was looking for it and each time I thought I saw those wisps of a Zone, they evaporated into the old Man-to-Man Defense.   I thought the Zone might keep Carolina out of the Paint, plus even a slight showing of “Orange” could have thrown them off for a bit. On the other hand, you might see it in March. I’m sure Coach Roy might have been expecting it, and that won’t change next time.

Query #6

Afterward, some Duke fans bemoaned the officiating on Twitter.  

What do you think ???

Rowan:

I will agree with Jay Bilas when he said it was equally bad on both sides of the court.

Bermuda Bob:

I believe that the officiating was much better than the Syracuse game. I cannot recall a heinous issue, even though people like Doug Gottlieb made a big deal out of a few calls down the line. Once again, I believe that some members of the media often over emphasize, or even dramatize, things just to have something to say that sounds unique. 

Query #7

Jahlil Okafor is now walking in a boot and is questionable for Saturday’s Clemson game.

Do you think Duke can win without him ??? 

Rowan:

Clemson is a tough opponent with or without Okafor, but I like Duke’s chances either way.

Bermuda Bob:

I hope that there is not a let down after such a great game on such a short turnaround. Fortunately they are home, which helps. Clemson’s record does not reflect their ability to be a stern opponent.

 

Thanks for checking us out …

Please know that we welcome your comments !!!

You can find us at:  @SimplyDukeBB on Twitter 

 

Point/CounterPoint #12- After the 1st Syracuse Game …

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In the installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss the 1st Syracuse game this weekend, their recent violations problem, and the upcoming 1st North Carolina game.

Query #1

This year’s game was another sell-out in the Carrier Dome, but the game had a different feeling.  Duke won quieting the sea of orange fans in the 2nd Half. What did we learn about this team with THIS win ???

Rowan:     I learned that Jahlil Okafor is a decent post defender. Rakeem Christmas went right at him over and over and came up short.  I do wonder if the fans bought their tickets before Syracuse announced their postseason ban ???

Syracuse just did not have that fight in them considering the amount of support they had. I was confident of the outcome regardless of the score in the 1st Half when Syracuse was up big.

Bermuda Bob:     I’m pleased that Duke looked like a more cohesive unit who could maintain their composure, even when they were getting beaten.   I’m glad they could effectively make the changes Coach K made at halftime, like Quinn on “Silent G,” who was hurting them.  I’m curious why Amile only got 14 minutes, but I’m glad Matt excelled.  Both “Plums” and Grayson got meaningful minutes and took advantage of them, even if was just 8 minutes each.  I won’t pretend to understand why …

Query #2

Jay Bilas of ESPN, while covering the game, was extraordinarily outspoken about the terrible officiating on both sides.  

Do you agree ???  

Rowan:     I don’t know, sometimes he gets it wrong. Jahlil was standing straight up and Christmas was creating the contact with his many fakes. Okafor even took a few elbows. However, that fast break where a Syracuse player was fouled on one end, then Cook got fouled on the other end was a legit “swallowing of the whistle” moment. Cooney didn’t get the call but Cook fortunately did.

Bermuda Bob:     I am not a fan of Referees who have any impact on a game, except for the real reason why they are there.  When the game is over, I should never even think of a question like this.  Unfortunately, all too often the Referees insert their personal perspective into the game.  We’ve seen it plenty this season:

  • Some call “Charging” much less when it comes to a Duke game …
  • Some call “3 Seconds” more than other Officials …
  • Some won’t call “Traveling” except when the kid “Moon Walks” …
  • Coach Knight likes to ask why “Palming” is not called more often …

I disagree with the notion that if they call the game equally, it is faire officiating.  No, it’s not !!!   Officiating exactly the same from game to game to game is faire.  That means:

  • It is equitable and identical from game to game …
  • It is commensurate to what is called by every other official …
  • It is disinterested in the caliber of play nor team reputations …
  • It is unconcerned that their rental car(s) is parked outside …

The fact that a Commentator the caliber of Jay Bilas felt it necessary to point it out on so many occasions means that the officiating was somewhere between appalling and atrocious.

Query #3

“Oaks” had nice things to say about his opponent, Rakeem Christmas.  

Our friend at Duke Report, David Aldridge, posted an excellent article this week asking if “Oaks” has become a victim of his own success.  

It that possible, or just another way of saying that everyone has his “number” ???

Rowan:      Jahlil Okafor is very well mannered and his having good things to say about an opponent is not a surprise. As they say, “Game does not lie.” Personalities shine thru on the Court, and he is always the first to help a fellow up off the floor, whether it’s a teammate or not.   

As for the ‘victim of his own success,’ part well with numbers like this of course, there will be game plans especially for him. It is the ultimate sign of respect. For my part he makes a great decoy as in while opponents are worried about him. Guys like Quinn Cook can take advantage. That’s how Virginia was beaten.  

Bermuda Bob:     It was surely wonderful to see that “Oaks” is a gentle and gentile giant.  He just fought a battle with another “big” and prevailed in being a large part of a hard fought win. He did so while not getting into foul trouble nor fouling out.  Your point about being an excellent decoy is as much a part of his game as is his scoring.  The very fact that teams have to formulate their Game Plan around “Oaks” makes the point. The counterpoint is that he is so flexible that there is no one specific plan that will consistently prevail against him.   That speaks to his adaptability but also to that of the rest of the squad too. You can’t have one without the other.

I think that David’s point was both complimentary and wishful. I too am happily voting for Quinn as the team MVP because he has consistently fulfilled his recruitment by his leadership. I guess David and I would be fighting to be first in line to plead with “Oaks” to stay !!!

Query #4

Mike “Silent G” Gbinije scored 17 of his 27 points in the 1st Half, shooting 5 of 8 from outside the Arc.  

A fan on Twitter wondered if he had his old Duke jersey underneath his ‘Cuse jersey.  

Do you think he was inspired by proving, as Coach K noted: “I’m glad he turned out to be the player we thought he’d be …” 

Rowan:     The rest of that quote is, “and that he did not beat us tonight.” Cut to Duke fans collectively nodding at this.

Actually in the last few games Michael Gbinije has been playing really great basketball, and this was his third game in a row scoring over 20 points. I am glad to see a player flourish upon leaving Duke, which is not normally the case. A player doesn’t normally transfer to another ACC team either, so there you have it !!!

Bermuda Bob:     I do not doubt for a moment that Mike’s adrenalin was pumping sky high, and he did a great job of playing within himself. Thankfully, Coach K had a weapon in his quiver – Mike’s old roommate, Quinn Cook.   “Quinny” played “Silent G” well in the Second Half and reduced his effectiveness. I would have thought that, considering how well he has played as of late, he would have been mortified by a poor performance. I expect the same on the 28th in Cameron because, as Coach K noted: “Look, we recruited him because we thought he was good …”

I certainly wish he had gotten the playing time he was recruited for, and stayed, instead of becoming disillusioned and being forced to take his talents elsewhere, especially within the ACC. 

Query #5

Considering that ‘Cuse has self-penalized themselves for something that happened before most of these kids were recruited, do you have any thoughts on the fairness of such penalizations happen ???

Rowan:     How many people came to see Duke play Syracuse ??? Over 35,000 right ??? That is a lot of ticket sales for a team playing for nothing. The general feeling is that Syracuse is going nowhere this season so they could afford to absorb such a punishment much easier, especially considering the recruiting class they have coming in next season.  That means that the only people hurt are the fans, and the players being denied a chance to prove their worth in both the ACC Tournament and the Big Dance, especially the Seniors.

Bermuda Bob:     I believe that it is patently wrong to penalize any kid for the actions of a predecessor. I’m not sure if monetary fines are the answer, but it has to start somewhere else rather than this inequitable penalizing of kids who did nothing wrong.   I feel terrible for the present ‘Cuse kids for a very real reason.

When I was a youngster, my brother broke a window throwing a baseball bat at me. When my father got home he lined us both up and asked who broke the window.  My brother lied, and I simply said “Not me !!!”  We each got a lick, then the question was asked again.  Over and over and over again my brother lied, each time my response was the same, and each time the same lick.  A total of 4 each until my brother broke down. My father finished doling out his punishment, then my father turned to me and said nothing more than, “You see what you get for lying ???” 

Yup, I truly feel for the present “Cuse kids, but I sure wish the real violators could get theirs !!!

Query #6

Carolina comes to Cameron on Wednesday night at 9PM  …

Any thoughts ???

Rowan:     We had this discussion previously and my prevailing thought is that UNC is like a wounded grizzly (I don’t remember using such colorful terms though) and they should not be discounted after losing to PITT over the weekend. Duke is at home, so hopefully they can find that same intensity they played Notre Dame with.

Bermuda Bob:     The reason why the Duke-Carolina rivalry is the best in sport is because the players are playing for all the right reasons.  They do not profit like the Yankees/Red Sox or the Celtics/Lakers or so many other supposed rivalries.  The other reason is because the kids, from all over the country, on both sides, share the same small geographic area as compatriots, not enemies !!!

This rivalry has guaranteed such incredible competition on both Home Courts that it is always scheduled promoted so all will not forget to watch.  It can make temporary heroes of pariahs as when Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers sank the winning shot, even though he is now looked upon as the makebate for that terrible season.

This year will be a somber one after the passing of Dean Smith, as he was instrumental in developing and perpetuating this rivalry, and I, for one, am so glad he did !!!

We welcome your comments here or at our Twitter site @SimplyDukeBB 

Point/CounterPoint Installment #11 – After Notre Dame & Florida State

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Today, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss the 30 Point satisfaction of the Duke win at Home against Notre Dame and the tough win at Florida State on the road … 

Query #1

After blowing out Notre Dame at home, people were expecting a bigger win over Florida State, do you think this was unreasonable ??? 

Rowan:

It is a shame that the more success Duke has, the higher the expectations. Florida State has to be given some credit here, they did something a few teams have achieved this season: Move Jahlil Okafor off the block.  Michael Ojo is 7′ tall and weighs almost 300 pounds.  When he was in the game he used his strength to push Jahlil off the block.

The Freshman scored most of his 13 points in transition, or when the Nigerian import was on the bench. Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and especially Quinn Cook picked up the slack, offensively.

Bermuda Bob:

The Notre Dame game was an excellent effort and a great shooting exhibition. It may have been a demonstration giving credence to the thoughts we have had about Rasheed being a distraction.

As for Florida State, any opponent playing in Tallahassee will find it unwelcoming with intense fan pressure, just like at Cameron. That said, one of the criticisms of Coach K’s non-conference scheduling has been his noticeable lack of true “Away” games. I think this played a part in Monday’s game. 

Query #2

How would you rate the performance of the bench ??? 

Rowan:

Marshall Plumlee did a great job of holding down the forte while Okafor sat for most of the first half with two early fouls. Grayson Allen has lost ‘his deer in the headlights’ tag as he looks a little more comfortable on the court.

Matt Jones didn’t make any of his 6 shots but had 3 big offensive rebounds.

Allen played more minutes than usual but the trust isn’t there yet as Cook and Tyus Jones played around 40 minutes a piece !!!

Bermuda Bob:

Duke went into the LockerRoom up 32-24 with “Oaks” on the Bench in foul trouble, which caused the team to pass and find the cutting player.

Matt couldn’t find the “Hole” but looked like Duke’s new Tyler Thornton.

“Plums” again contributed 10 major minutes, playing tough Defense and showing better hands on Offense.

Grayson got 11 minutes off the Bench and began to look more comfortable. Just before his time was finished, he made a monster block from nowhere, leaping even higher than he needs to Dunk. 

Query #3

Who would you give the game ball to ???

Rowan:

That would be Quinn Cook, who scored a season high 26 points. Tyus Jones is a close second registering a personal best of a dozen assists to go with 16 points and a team high 6 rebounds.  This performance sent their coach into an ‘I told you so’ mode after the game.

“Those two guards have been rock solid for me, [Jones] and Quinn,” Krzyzewski said.  “Remember when we started the year, I don’t know if you remember, but everyone’s saying, ‘How’s that going to work out ???’  Well, it’s worked out pretty darn well.

Offensively they are good.  Defensively they still need work judging by the way Florida State got back into the game, but who am I to rain on Coach K’s parade !!!

Bermuda Bob:

I agree on Quinn, but think he ought to share it with Tyus. After all, they often played off each other, as proven by the 12 Assists Tyus was responsible while none for Quinn.   

Query #4

There is a consensus that Duke is a different team since the start of the conference year, when they lost two in a row, can you see this ???

Rowan:

Their limitations are still very evident … no rim protection, or pick and roll … Defense on the perimeter is still a sieve, however they are doing a good job of covering these weaknesses.

There is also a little more bite in their bark. Against Miami and NC State, when they were taken out of the game, they just didn’t seem to have any fight in them.  Now, they go down 10 to an undefeated Virginia in the waning moments of the game, and still manage to win.  On the road, against Florida State, even though they gave up a good lead, they remained composed and held on for the victory.

I think the turnaround was at Notre Dame when they fought hard but still lost. After that game Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook have played with a lot more zest. Winslow seems to be overcoming his injury game by game.

Bermuda Bob:

Duke is a maturing work in progress. Early on, opponents had no clue how to contain “Oaks” but now every opponent seems to have a game plan for him. Now, if “Oaks” goes to the Bench, they are showing a different but very effective look thanks to good Guard play. “Plums” playing hardnosed has been a big plus. The return to form by Justise is a huge plus. Matt has seemed to have begun to be Amile’s substitute, making that Forward position hard to consistently defend.

All that said, they are not yet tournament ready, but they’re getting there.   Once again I have to wonder what the heck was going on with Rasheed that catapulted him from the team and the team into a more unified squad.   Something tells me we won’t know anytime soon !!!

Query #5

Coach K turns 68 on Friday but Jason Williams (now of ESPN) thinks he has a lot left in the tank, do you think this is possible ???

Rowan:

First of all let me wish a very Happy Birthday to our own Bermuda Bob who was born two days (albeit years later) before Coach K but has never brought this up in all the years that I have known him.

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating your own milestone.

Larry Brown who currently coaches SMU is 74 and Jim Boeheim is 70, so yes I think Coach K has another 5 years left in him if he desires it.

Incidentally Coach K’s mentor, Bob Knight, resigned from Texas Tech at 68.

Bermuda Bob:

Thanks, Ro !!!  I’m a bit younger (by 8 years) and I can tell you that it all comes down to your mind and body together cooperating with what you want to accomplish. That said, it appears that Coach K has no visible reason why he could not continue as Jay Williams notes.  He does not seem to have lost any physicality, nor a bit of his wit and presence … just ask the Reporters on the Duke “beat.”    I think that he would never stay even one day past the time when he could no longer be everything he feels he needs to be to the team, each player, the fans, and the University.

I know it sounds hackneyed, but age is just a number. When you’re doing what you love, with those you love, supported by those you love, longevity comes naturally. He will know when it’s time …

 

Thank you for reading our articles …

Please give us you thoughts on our articles either her or on Twitter at: @SimplyDukeBasketball

Dean Smith: There Will Never Be Another …

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Rarely in sport, or any other faction of society, has there been a man who has had such an impact on so many. On February 7th, we lost that man to eternity, and probably the best line-up he ever coached.

There are so many accomplishments that mean so much to so many that it’s hard to accurately ever count them, so these are the ones that we believe were the most important and part of the “Carolina Way” he instituted.

First an foremost, Dean Smith ran a clean programme that graduated 96.6% of his players, even if it meant they had to comeback to school to do so …

Equally worthy of being named initially here is his promotion of the desegregation of his team by recruiting and giving Charlie Scott a full scholarship.  This was at a time when people like Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp would not play a team with Black Players.

Many do not know that today’s “Shot Clock” was installed because Coach Smith’s teams had perfected a b whereby they would get a reasonable lead, then freeze the opponent out by accurate passing.  It was the ultimate “Ball Control Offense.”

He instituted so many aspects taken for granted in today’s game. The huddling at the Charity Stripe, pointing at the player who made the pass to a player who scored, and the hand signal by a tired player, were all instituted by Coach Smith.

North Carolina never had a “one-and-done” player under Coach Smith, and it was he who instituted a “Senior Day” on the last home game of the year to honour his Players who fully matriculated.   That included Bench Players and even Walk-On Players.

Coach Smith recorded 879 all time Wins in 36 years, and while his records have been and will be surpassed, he will be remembered for how he did so while ushering in the “modern era” of college basketball.  Coach Wooden of UCLA and Coach Knight of Indiana may have preceded him as greats, but neither had the caliber of competition North Carolina faced.

From 1977 thru 1993, Coach Smith was recognized as National Coach of the Year 4 times.  From 1967 thru 1993, he was ACC Coach of the Year on 8 occasions. Of course, he was inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  Sports Illustrated made him Sportsman of the Year, while naming him one of 5 greatest American coaches in any sport. He was also awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award by ESPN.

Coach Smith was enshrined as one of the 5 original members of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.  Finally, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

According conventional knowledge, in 1986, when the University of North Carolina named their new athletic facility as the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Centre (AKA “The Dean Dome”) there had never been a major arena named for a living, actively coaching personality.  It was an honour everyone agreed was proper and fitting, even if it defied conventional wisdom.

It goes without having to mention that Coach Smith has seen many of his Players go on to both the NBA and the coaching ranks. Interestingly, he is also one of only three who have both played and then coached a National Championship Basketball Team.

Here is his career by the numbers:

  • 1133   –         Games coached
  • 27       –         NCAA Tournament appearances
  • 26       –         North Carolina Players were recruited as All-Americans
  • 25       –         Player were 1st Round Draft Picks
  • 22       –         Seasons with at least 25 wins
  • 21       –         UNC Alums in the Coaching Ranks
  • 17       –         Regular Season ACC Titles
  • 13       –         ACC Tournament Titles
  • 11       –         Final Four Appearances
  • 8        –         ACC “Coach of the Year” Awards
  • 5        –         Players were NBA Rookie of the Year
  • 4        –         National “Coach of the Year” Awards
  • 2        –         National Championships
  • 1        –         Olympic Gold Medal (1976)

Coach Smith was not only an athletic personality, he took his position in the community seriously.  An active Democrat, he took the lead in the desegregation movement, and was even recruited to political office.  While turning down the offers, he did support his alumni within North Carolina.

All the numbers and all the accolades could never adequately encapsulate the very wide swath of influence this man had on so many. The measure of his influence can only be measured by how many now feel they need to speak out about him, now that he is gone, and do so with such admiration, affection, adoration, and appreciation.

People like Dean Smith cross our paths very rarely, and when they go, the gap left is the measure of his legacy … a legacy that lives on each time a Tar Heel Player utters that motto he gave them …

“Play Hard, Play Smart, Play Together” !!!

Point/CounterPoint Installament #10 – After the Duke Win Against Virginia

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about what we learned from Duke’s win against Virginia, and what we expect going forward to the Georgia Tech tonight, and then Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon …

Query #1

We have had plenty of time to think about how and why Duke won on Saturday in Virginia.

Why do you think Duke won that game ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I have been over the Virginia game from every perspective.  I reviewed the Play-by-Play, I even went back over our comments to each other during the game.  I honestly believe that Virginia did what we both have criticized Duke for in the past – they took their foot off the throttle and it allowed Duke to double-down on their efforts.  The stern perimeter defense of Virginia got lazy and simply double-teamed “Oaks” which allowed Tyus, Quinn, and Matt to hit very big 3 Pointers and shift the momentum to Duke.  Knowing Tony Bennett, that will not happen again against anyone else in the conference !!!

Ro:

Some people have credited Duke for going to a 3-2 Zone in closing moments of the game, which cut off the middle and flustered Virginia, but Duke should really be credited for playing a team game.

In the 1st Half, Virginia did a very good job of taking Okafor out of the game, offensively, and that was their mistake. When Okafor carries the Offense, it makes his team mates complacent.  Keep all 5 guys involved and Duke is formidable down the stretch.  With the big Freshman tied down, everyone was forced to get involved offensively and that does marvels for one’s confidence. Hence, Tyus Jones’s big shot at the end of the game.

I have to give credit to Okafor for overcoming a horrendous start (5 turnovers) to finish the game strong. Those guys would not have been as open as they were if Okafor hadn’t made himself into a target.  This was the most psyched I have  seen the Freshman in 21 games. He ran the floor hard and hit the Offensive Boards for a put back.  He really worried his defenders and made some clean, crucial passes.

Query #2

One of our Readers, Bill W has asked why “Plums” is not playing more, and maybe even on the Court WITH “Oaks.”

What do you think of Bill’s idea ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I think Bill has touched on an excellent point.  Very often “Oaks” seems to be playing not to Foul, which means there is no Defense at all !!!   I lost track of the BackDoor scores and times when Virginia drove the lane uncontested.  The Offense suffers when “Plums” is in because he is not an offensive threat.   He continues to try to set those goofy looking Picks much too far away from the Paint.  He does, however, play hard-nosed defense and challenges everyone who approaches.

I think he deserves more floor time.  Besides, “Oaks” seems to often be “puffed” from having defenders hanging on him constantly, so “Plums” has a role.  I also think a 2-1-2 Zone with the “Twin Towers” look, with Amile as the Center, could flummox defenders with yet another Zone look. 

Ro:

Offensively, Lieutenant Plumlee has potential.  We have seen him pull off the occasional back-to-the-basket move, but those are rare occasions where he was allowed to get comfortable on the court.

I do agree with Bermuda Bob when he says that Plumlee challenges everything.  He may Foul often but he does something very valuable for this team – he hedges.  Whenever the opposing team picks off a Duke Guard, Plumlee does not retreat to the paint, but steps forward to plug the hole, stopping the easy penetration. Someone else might have let the Guard through hoping to block the shot.

Query #3

Grayson Allen got in 11 minutes of Court time against Virginia.  

What did you think of his performance ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I honestly believe that no player, especially a Frosh, can get better and contribute to his team’s system, without playing time.  Grayson has looked somewhat tentative because he has gotten only 109 minutes in the 21 games Duke has played.  A few times he never got his Warm-Up off during the game.  Since we know that he is capable of driving the Lane, and is seemingly willing to do so, I think he ought to be encouraged to.  That way, he might be more open for shots from the outside.  Let’s hope it happens for him and he gets a faire chance. 

Ro:

He was not very memorable. Maybe Allen should practice dunking less and work on his overall game more. I always marvel at a kid’s Youtube highlights where he is dunking everything, then gets to college and looks grounded. With his athletic ability he should be able to get to the paint more often. For homework he should study film of Gerald Henderson and his pull up mid-range Jumper.

Query #4

What do you make of the very evident lockdown of any information about Rasheed’s dismissal ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

There are two great scenes in the movie “Moonstruck” that the banishment of Rasheed reminded me of. In each scene, Professor Perry is seated in the Grand Ticino Restaurant with a young, beautiful student of his when she abruptly jumps up, throws water in his face, and leaves. Each time the Waiter assists the Professor as he proclaims: “… just please take away all remnants of her …”

I think that it looks like Coach K has installed the “Loose Lips Sinks Ships” mode for the team.  It makes perfect sense, but it has caused a wholesale wave of speculation.  Most of it is probably a bunch of baloney by people looking for a story.  I presume Rasheed might be forthcoming sooner or later, but here’s a thought … He was not expelled, so there is no reason why Coach K couldn’t reinstate him next year after addressing whatever was the cause of his dismissal.  Time will tell !!!

Oh, and by-the-way, I believe that henceforth any questions about Rasheed to Coach K or anyone from the programme will be met with Cosmo Castorini’s (also of “Moonstruck” fame) favourite proclamation: “I don’t wanna talk about it !!!”

Ro:

It is as if he was never there.

Query #6

Was this game an emotional reaction to the loss of Sulaimon, and as cooler heads prevail will the Junior’s absence be more evident from the team ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I believe fans will notice the loss more than the team will. He was a true “prime-time player” and the loss of his defensive prowess will be noticeable. Rasheed played both side of the court. I do not see anyone else on the Bench capable of filling his shoes. 

Ro:

I thought that Duke may have turned a corner after the Notre Dame game because the general feeling was that they all played well but they lost. I felt that it was a “good loss” because they knew that they could “hang” with a team like that. They lost because of some key mistakes down the stretch.  Tangible mistakes that they could improve upon. Then Sulaimon got dismissed.

We won’t know if this is a distraction until maybe the second or third game after the emotions have subsided.

Query #7

What are your thoughts on the Georgia Tech game tonight ???

Bermuda Bob:

I hope that Duke does not take Tech for granted and begin to look to Saturday afternoon’s re-match with Notre Dame at Cameron.  I hope they use the game to work on execution of their Zone.  I prefer a 2-1-2 Zone to address Duke’s penchant for allowing BackDoor cuts because they rarely deny the BaseLine to opponents.  I’d also like to see Duke put the “hammer” down and finish a game as tough as they usually begin each half.

Ro:

I wonder if Duke is a team that plays to the level of their competition. They get psyched for games against Louisville, Wisconsin and Virginia but drop the ball against Miami and NC State. They even played well against Notre Dame but struggled against conference bottom dwellers like Wake Forest and Boston College even though they eventually prevailed.

I want to see Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook being aggressive all game and not standing around waiting for scraps off Okafor’s plate. Also, Jahlil Okafor didn’t get to the Free Throw Line, but Duke shot only 53% from the Line. It would have been worse if Tyus hadn’t made 5-of-6. There is still room for improvement.

Query #8

Are you amazed that Duke has continued to be ranked very highly in the Associated Press ???

Bermuda Bob:

Both of the rankings are nothing more than snapshots in time, and as such makes them somewhat reactionary, almost a “What have you done for me lately” type of thing. It honestly means nothing to me. Everyone knows that the month of February is pivotal in each of the major conferences as it sets the tone and seedings of the Conference Tournaments. Those Conference Tournaments seed the Big Dance. Ranking anyone anywhere does not necessarily reflect on who they are, just who they have impressed !!!

Ro:

I can see why Duke is still ranked high after losing to #8 Notre Dame and beating #2 Virginia. Plus Virginia was undefeated in 19 games, so Duke beating them on their home turf has to be rewarded. Some people point to the fact that Duke is currently middle of the pact in ACC standings. but they ignore the fact that the Blue Devils have played only 8 Conference games. Most teams have played 9. Notre Dame and North Carolina, both ahead of Duke in the standings, have played 10.

 

 We welcome all of your comments, and suggestions for topics !!!