SDBB: “What Have We Learned So Far ???” after the 2K Title Game

SDBB - So ... What have we learned so far ???

Tonight, Bermuda Bob & Rowan Shiell discuss “What we have learned so far” in this very  young 2015-16 Duke season. 

Query #1

After the obvious choice of Grayson Allen, who has impressed you the most thus far ???

Bermuda Bob:

I actually have 2 guys … “Plums” and Amile“Plums” has played so much tougher than either of his big brothers ever did !!!

Amile has defined what a true Journeyman is.  He could be called the “garbage man” because he quietly gets things done without fanfare.   I think this Senior Leadership will pay long term premiums !!!

Rowan Shiell:

First of all, who saw this coming from Allen ??? Incredible !!!

I like Derryk Thornton’s poise. Expectations were raised when he forewent his Senior year of High School to join Duke early. He didn’t immediately have the success that was required of him, mainly because – even if people want to admit it or not – he will always be compared to Tyus Jones.

It was disappointing that Thornton wasn’t a Starter, and when he played, he didn’t exactly overwhelm.  In Duke’s first two games he was shooting 3-of-17.

Then against Kentucky, it became abundantly clear to Thornton that he could actually play with the best of them.  He literally matured before our eyes, but it wasn’t obvious because Kentucky won big.  That’s not to mention Tyler Ulis got the upper hand down the stretch, but then he (Ulis) is probably the best Point Guard in college basketball.

Next game, against VCU, he Started and scored 19.  Against Georgetown he dropped 14.  In the NBA you don’t need a Point Guard to win, but not in college basketball. It is a must !!!

Query #2

In Allen’s last game, against Georgetown, he shot 9/12 on 5/6 from 3 and went 9/9 at the Free Throw Line.  A more perfect game he may never have.  If he continues at something close to this pace, he’s the hands-own Player of the Year, but the real question is:  

Is his current play enough to win Duke an ACC and even a National Championship ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think the real question is to wonder how adaptable Grayson is.  JJ proved to us that a Duke Guard could score tonnes.  Grayson is multi-faceted.  He Rebounds and dishes Assists.  I wonder if other defenses can replicate what Kentucky accomplished.  Personally, I believe that Kentucky’s “bigs” did what “bigs” instinctively do … hands up and block shots.  The sheer size of their Front Line schooled Grayson.  It wasn’t something Kentucky needed their “recruiter-in-coach” to direct them to do.   He just enjoyed looking like he did.  The end result was that they gave Coach K plenty of fodder to help make his Sophomore a better player and leader !!!

Rowan Shiell:

No. As the young season has shown, Duke wins only when Allen has not just a good game, but a great game.  That is a high standard to uphold.   We know what we are going to get from Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. Matt Jones looks like he can take on some more of the scoring load, however, if either Luke Kennard, and especially Brandon Ingram, cannot find their legs it is going to be a long season.

Remember, JJ Reddick used to be so run down by season’s end, he could barely get his “dukes” up for the tournament ???  That was the last time Duke had a player scoring 28 plus points a game.

Query #3:

Which Frosh has impressed (or not impressed) you the most ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think Thornton is maturing before our eyes.  I know that Ingram is in the mold of Kevin Durant, but he seems to get battered around when he penetrates.  It shows in his shots always being short.  Kennard finally found his shot on Sunday, and Jeter could be odd man out.

Rowan Shiell:

Have a guess who I think is the most impressive ???  Thornton is still learning, but I like his progress so far.  He has a good mid-range shot and he can hit the Three.  He just needs to get those Assist numbers up.  It does help if his teammates are making those shots too.

Query #4

What single factor do you think will define the rest of the non-conference season for Duke ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

While I think he has been forced to go to it because of the immaturity of his Frosh, I think Coach K’s acquiescence to go to a few Zone defenses will pay high premiums.  That 1-3-1 on Sunday was brilliant !!!  I almost changed the channel between a 1-3-1 defense and those horrid black uniforms made me wonder if I was really seeing Duke, or had I inadvertently switched channels ???

Rowan Shiell:

If the Georgetown game taught us anything, it was that 8 won’t do this season.  Now, with the propensity to Foul being far too easy to accomplish, I imagine Coach K will be looking to work another player into the rotation. It might be Chase Jeter, or Sean Obi.  I don’t know.  We saw Georgetown mount a furious comeback without Jefferson or Plumlee protecting the Rim.  Duke needs insurance against that happening again.

Query #5

Can Duke succeed with who they’ve got ???

Bermuda Bob:

Considering that Duke has the best College Coach of all time, I think he will have to “coach his brains out” because I think this is the biggest challenge he has had in all his years.  I honestly think he is up to it, and with the supporting coaching staff, I think they have the potential to go deep.  Remember, we have not yet seen the very deep bench, who are equally as talented.   It all hinges on leadership …

Rowan Shiell:

Yes, but Coach K is going to have to be on his “A” Game with this team. Right now, I have them middle of the pack in the ACC. Florida State has some great pieces, and Miami has been a revelation.  UNC should have Marcus Paige back by then, and even though they lost to UNI recently, they are still a dangerous team.  Even Wake jumped up and bit Indiana without their best player.  Then there is Notre Dame.

Most defenses are struggling under the new rules which are designed to promote scoring.  So, the best defensive system is now practically a good offense, and the ability to make Free Throws.

Bermuda Bob:

You are so right, my friend … Anyone remember when Vice Lombardi noted that “The best Defense is a good Offense” ???

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