In today’s conversation, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about how Duke got to the Final Four, if the “one-and-done” recruit has served Coach K well, Duke’s newly found Defense, Duke’s best tourney player, and looking forward …
Duke has changed it’s recruiting policy over the last five years, whereby they seem to be more interested in recruiting top recruits who wish to enter the NBA draft after one season in college.
Within that time frame, the furthest Duke had made it into the NCAA tournament was the Elite Eight (that 2012-2013 season just happened to be the only year that a recruit didn’t head to the draft after the season) with two embarrassing first game upsets thrown in.
Does this Final Four berth change the view that Coach K cannot win with “one-and-done” kids ???
Does one season change the opinion that Coach K cannot win with “one-and-done” kids ??? Props have to be given to Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen (highly unlikely to be a one year player) for getting Duke this far. One season is not enough to change that opinion, and if it was, they will need to do better than a Final Four to change that view.
Well, there are very different circumstances between this year and those previous years. I’ll explain, but first, I need to note to our readers that I have, and still am, a profound opponent of the whole concept of the “one-and-done” recruit. That said, here goes:
- 2010-11 was the first time Coach K tipped his toe into the “one-and-done” water, he had Kyrie Irving, who played so very little because of his toe injury. That team reconstituted itself (I’m sure Coach K had something to do with it), won the ACC Tournament, and was awarded a #1 Seed in the West Region.
They won their first two games, then Kyrie Irving declared he was physically fit to play, and along with his family conspired to make Coach K believe he was coming back. They were slaughtered by Arizona because that reconstituted team was subverted to Kyrie Irving. It was later discovered that all he wanted to do was try and cement a #1 Pick in the NBA Draft.
- 2011-2012 was the next dalliance with the “one-and-done” recruit. He was Austin Rivers, whom another Duke fan nicknamed “Da Black Hole” because Rivers turned out to be a ball-hog. I will always believe that he was the most-un-Duke-like player ever to be rostered. His mouth got to campus before he did with his self-proclamations, and desire to be called “SubZero” to match his choice of jersey numbered zero. I will also always believe that he was a “favour” to Doc Rivers by Coach K. This team was severely subverted to Rivers. So much so, in a game against Temple in Philadelphia, when he was knocked down and a TV Timeout called, his own players left him on the floor. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to have an opposing newspaper focus on ??? Even instead of their team’s win against Duke.
That team earned a #2 Seed in the South Region and was promptly dispatched by Lehigh, a #15 Seed from the Patriot League. They were 12.5 Point favourites, losing by 5 Points. Rivers did not even go back to Duke with his teammates !!!
One last thing … Mike “Silent G” Gbinije transferred from Duke. He would be the first in his recruiting class to leave because of the subversion, wasting a year at Duke and another waiting to go to Syracuse.
- 2013-14, after a great run to the Elite 8 the previous year without a “one-and-done” recruit, Coach K’s recruited the very talented Jabari Parker. He was a fan favourite because he was talented, good looking, very well spoken, and humble. He caused comparisons to Grant Hill. Then in February, a Sports Illustrated article chronicled the relationship that was born and the promises made by Coach K to Jabari AND his parents. The most worrisome aspect for me was that Jabari’s Mum could call the coaching staff and get a call back from Coach K anytime she wished. I wondered often if the other player’s parents had the same ability to do that.
Jabari was paired with a transfer, Rodney Hood. Duke insiders will recall that Coach K made no bones about his desire to have everything go thru Jabari. The upperclassmen at Duke were again subverted.
Duke was Seeded #3 in the MidWest Region and lost in the First Round to Mercer, a 14 Seed of the Atlantic Sun Conference by 7 Points.
In the middle of this year, Alex Murphy finally gave up hope of not being subverted to a recruit coming in behind him. He transferred to Florida, after wasting 1 season and a half at Duke and another waiting to play for the Gators.
- This year, after 3 of the last 4 seasons being abject failures with a single “one-and-done” recruit, Coach K changed his approach. He recruited 4 very different kids, making 3 of them instant Starters.
Semi Ojeleye, having warmed the bench the season before, could stand no more subversion and left Duke in mid-season, having wasted a year and a half, only to see himself being recruited behind. He is now wasting another year of his life waiting to be allowed to play at SMU.
The question is if Coach K has mastered the “one-and-done” recruiting situation. The record and earning a Final Four spot would seem to mean that he has. Time will tell, but moreover, what happens next year is important. Everyone will be interested to see if he can replicate this year. That is regardless of what happens this Saturday.
Duke has thus far prevailed against upperclassmen laden programmes in this Big Dance in two very different ways. The next opponent, Michigan State, will be led by very talented upperclassmen, but the most prolific Big Dance Coach of the century in Tom Izzo.
Three #1 Seeds and a #7 Seed made it to the Final Four, which team had the easiest path ???
Kentucky may have created the most carnage until they ran into Notre Dame, who gave them a huge scare. Duke has had a good tournament so far, but they made it that way with unbelievable defense.
No doubt Michigan State has had a tough route, if not the toughest. Wisconsin has been the most lackadaisical until they woke up to dispatch Arizona, showing that they are definitely one to watch.
Kentucky played in the weakest conference, and played the weakest schedule of any of the other programmes. The ACC & Big 10 have been well represented, even having to go thru each other to get here. It was an ACC team that near defeated Kentucky, so up to that point they had “cupcakes.”
Furthermore, while many are falling for all the flauntings and flountings about the Kentucky team, the truth be told, they are half a team of kids who didn’t expect to be here this year, and hence the “reinforcements” idea. No team in America has gotten so much attention while achieving so little, with so much, over the course of a substandard schedule.
As always we have to ask this question … What is your biggest takeaway from this tournament ???
“I think for these four games, we’ve played outstanding defense,” Coach Krzyzewski said. I can’t add any further to that.
Ah yes … Defense. How many times this year have we talked about the questionable defense that a certain member of the Starters played ???
Well, Duke either played the greatest game of “snooker” up to this point, or they simply picked the best time to play stellar Defense. Damn, I’m happy they did !!!
Who has been Duke’s best player throughout the tournament ???
The easiest pick here is Justice Winslow, but the real MVP is Jahlil Okafor. This may sound dumb after all the defensive plays and big shots by the former, but if you look closely, every team that Duke has played in the tournament is really worried about Okafor. Their Defences are geared toward stopping Okafor, meanwhile Winslow, Cook and company have been wreaking havoc.
All Okafor has to do is score occasionally to throw the opposing coach into a panic. Defensively, Okafor has also had his moments.
I praise Jahlil but I must acknowledge Winslow, who has been one of the most versatile players Duke has had in a while. He always finds a way to contribute whether it is hitting the boards, or passing the ball.
You make a very astute point that seems to be lost on the media. The simple decision of which Game Plan to develop to thwart “Oaks” flummoxes opposing coaches. They can either try and neutralize him, or allow him to score with passing resistance, and focus on the Duke shooters. Both have been tried and failed.
I think that without “Oaks,” the focus would be more centered on Justise. I doubt that he would not relish the challenge, but early on this year we saw how opponents battered him, making “Hack a Shaq” more like paddy-cakes. I am happy that, along with Tyus and Quinny, they make an impressive ensemble cast !!!
Going forward, are there any areas where Duke needs to improve in order to win on Saturday ???
I haven’t the foggiest Idea. All I know is that I will be cheering loudly and proudly. This team has shown a lot of resiliency, throughout the season. If you had to ask me if Duke would be playing in the Final Four, back in January, I would not have immediately said “Yes.”
The biggest mistake anyone could make would be to think that they could prevail over either Michigan State or Wisconsin using the same Game Plan they used earlier this season. Both teams have matured, and are full of highly experienced upperclassmen who have the taste of being here and having fallen. Duke does not have that aspect because everything is new to them, well, except Quinny.
In March, coaches are more important than in any other sport. Three of the four coaches here are legends of March, and have returned to a very familiar place. Regardless of what Duke does against the Spartans or the Badgers, it will be a “must see” for every college basketball fan.
To that I simply say …
“Rock On” !!!
Thanks for Reading !!!
We would love to hear from you either here or on Twitter at: