SDBB: After a 4 & 4 Conference Record, Can Duke Right This Ship After a Series of Very Un-Duke-Like Performances ???

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Considering that we’ve seen so many naysayers and faire-weather fans who believe that Duke’s season is sunk, today, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob address the topics everyone is talking about.

Here goes …

 

Topic #1:   Amile’s Injury & Return

Everyone thinks Amile returning is going to turn this team around.  

How can that possibly be ???

Rowan:

This all sounds great until you realise that Amile played against Utah and Kentucky. Then, couple that with the fact that Duke has yet to play 4 of the top ACC teams. That’s not to mention there is no telling what kind of condition Amile may be in. I say that is “Fool’s Gold.”

Bermuda Bob:

All the conditioning in the world to keep the rest of Amile as close to playing shape as possible are for naught because it can’t replace Court time.   Timing and the “shooting eye” are just two aspects to consider.  Yes, Amile’s on-the-Court leadership will return, but there are so many intangibles that I don’t expect an immediate impact.

One thing that no one seems to want to consider is that Coach K won’t be able to force Amile into 30+ minutes a game without exponentially risking re-injury.   That presumes that Amile can overcome the natural instinct to protect against re-injuring himself.

Look, both of us have loved this guy going back to his protracted recruitment. He was a major role player in last year’s National Championship, especially considering his Defense against Wisconsin.   I just don’t see him as the “knight in shining armour” to this programme that has many other problems. 

Topic #2:   The Failure of Chase Jeter

Everyone thinks Jeter deserves more chances when his play has been abysmal.  

What about giving Obi & Antonio the same type of opportunity ???  

Don’t they deserve the same consideration ???

Rowan:

Jeter’s issues go beyond figuring out his position in the Zone. As things stand right now, it looks like Jeter was minding his business last week and someone came up to him and said “Heh you are quite tall, you should play basketball …” … now here he is.

Bermuda Bob:

About 9-10 years ago, on a bit of a dare, I once played golf attired all in various shades of pink. I even played a pink golf ball.  On the 1st Tee, the Ranger, was hard of hearing, so he never realized he was speaking much too loudly to the Starter.   So, every one of the 8 of us heard him loud and clear.   As I approached the Tee,we all heard him say: “I hope he has game enough for that get up.”   Well, have to admit the pressure was on, and I (luckily) crushed my Drive to within Wedge range on the short Par 4, 1st Hole.  I chipped it close for a tap-in Birdie.  I then turned around to the Ranger, who was following us, and asked him: “… that enough game for you ???”   He sheepishly tipped his hat to me and we never saw him again.

When I first saw Chase Jeter and his Bedlington Terrier style haircut, my reaction was the same as that Ranger.  I hoped he had the “game” that allowed him to make himself look so foolish.

Well, since then, he has not done a single thing to dissuade me.  He has played 131 minutes in 17 games, scoring only 28 Points and pulling down only 29 Rebounds.  He’s also committed 14 TurnOvers in those 131 minutes, meaning he’ll turn the ball over every 9+ minutes.

One article, by Chris Bunn of 247Sports, claims that: Jeter has played 28 minutes in conference play and he’s been whistled for 14 fouls.”  My count sez he has committed a total of 32 Fouls in 131 minutes of play, meaning that he’ll commit a Foul ever 4 minutes he’s on the floor.

So, if you put him on he floor, you’re guaranteed that he’ll give up a TurnOver and committ 2 Fouls !!!  Stats like that mean he ought to stay in the Locker Room …

I’m going to share a little secret.  Ro and I watch each game live, while commenting to each other on Viber in real time.  That’s why we’re rarely on Twitter during a game.  Ro is in London, England and I am in Pennsylvania.   I say this to note the sacrifice Ro makes to do this, as he is 5 hours ahead of us. That means a 7PM game starts at Midnight for him, and a 9PM game Tips Off at 2AM for him.   We text so as not to wake up his wife and son.

During many of those games we have shared anguish over Jeter. “Dud” is maybe the most gentlemanly thing we would share here.   Ro has asked who is personally responsible for ranking Jeter so high, and then, who recruited him to Duke ??? Those are frustrated queries for very good reason.

I think he ought to be banished to the Bench to cause no more harm.  Many other players ahead of him were relegated there after far less play, and subsequently transferred. Remember Alex, “Silent G,” and Semi ???

Note to Coach K:

Can you PLEASE explain why you extended a transfer scholarship to Sean Obi and recruited Antonio Vrankovic, but refuse to extend the same opportunity to play, and contribute to this team  as your have given Jeter ???

Even Dick Vitale has commented that he thought that any kid recruited ought to be able to contribute at least 10 minutes a game !!!   Let’s face it, both Obi and Antonio could not be as much of a liability, individually or together, as Jeter has been !!!   Actually, in those 21 minutes Obi has played, he has accomplished more statistically than Jeter !!!  Who knows what Antonio is capable of as he’s only gotten microscopic minutes.

 

Topic #3:   Only 6 Guys Playing …

How can only 6 guys be expected to handle the load of a season in one of America’s toughest conferences, especially when none of them played that many minutes last year ???

Rowan:

Some of the best college teams depend on a very short rotation. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Wichita State and maybe Virginia, but they do a very good job of finding a breather for their Starters who play big minutes.  There is, however, one important factor these teams have that differs from Duke immensely. These guys are Seniors.  Considering that the returning players on Duke were support players last season, and most of the other players were in high school last season, playing only 6 guys is not a great idea.

Bermuda Bob:

One of my favourite things to see in the past was when Coach K took up Coach Roy Williams’ practice of platooning his players. Now, for some unbeknownst reason, Coach K did not recruit the type of players that would allow him to do this, presently … well, unless he played his “Walk-On” players. 

So, when Coach K sees his players dragging their respective posteriours, how on earth does he expect them to shoot and play effective Defense with tired legs ???   As Ro points out, not one of these kids were Starters in the ACC last year, so how can we expect them to perform up to Duke standards when they collectively could envoke Scottie’s famous lament to Captain Kirk:

“Aye Captain … I don’t think the engines can handle the load !!!” 

 

Topic #4:    That Same Old Look !!!

There was no discernible difference between the look of Duke in the last 5 games.   If it has only worked in one game, doesn’t it stand to reason that a different offensive approach is on order ???

Rowan:

Other than jacking up too many 3 Pointers against Syracuse, Duke has a fine offense.  Their issues stem from the other end of the Court where guys are pacing themselves and playing to avoid Fouls.

Bermuda Bob:

Man-oh-man, have you said a mouthful !!!  How many times have we lamented that Duke was just jacking up shots without much circumspection ???  Up goes the shot, and no one even attempts an Offensive Rebound.  That was the original meaning of the “one-and-done.”

If I was able to show you the last 5 games, and blindfold you at selected spots in each game, then remove the blindfold, aside from the opposition uniforms, I bet you’d be unable to tell the difference. The only commonality is that they’d all be losses !!!

Sure, Coach K has employed a variety of Zone defenses, I simply do not see a congruous set of Offensive plays being run.

Not once …

… have I seen anyone even attempt a fall away shot like Seth perfected …

… have I seen Ingram posted at the Free Throw Line providing a double offensive threat of a give-and-go, or a pivot to the basket, or even a turn around shot from 15 feet …

… have I seen “Plums” and Obi (is he still on the team ???) present a “twin towers” look causing the defense to wonder who to double-team …

Come to think of it, I’ve only seen Obi in the blink of an eye (21 minutes), and Antonio even less.   How could both of these guys be more of a liability than Jeter ???

Topic #5:    Another Foot Problem in Those Nike Shoes …

This may not be an answer this year, but doesn’t the prolonged perpetuance of foot problems over recent years, and the fact that Duke genuflects at the foot of Nike (contractually), seem to have a strange coincidental ring to it ???

Rowan:

Nike are said to be the best in the business, but Ryan Kelly now Amile, small sample, maybe Duke should look into this more carefully. Better be safe than sorry.

Bermuda Bob:

Well, Ro, I’m going to dispute that Nike is the best in the business.  They might be the best at marketing themselves, or buying themselves into major programmes, or creating so many different uniforms for cuckold college players, but I question of they are the best shoe.  I can tell you that I know, first hand, that most intense athletes I have come across look elsewhere for their competitive footwear.   Sure, Nike makes collectible shoes, but are they equally designed to perform ???  I can’t wear Nike, and my marathoner daughter can’t either, nor can many of her contemporaries in her running club, so how good could Nike really be ???

Let’s look at this in recent times.  Start with Zoubs, then consider Kyrie, then move to “Plums” and then to Seth, on to Ryan, a problem for “Oaks” … and now to Amile.   That may be just 7 guys, but in the real world, that’s considered a trend !!!

I’ll admit it … I have a particular distain for Nike because they believe that they can dictate what teams will wear simply because of the $$$ they pay schools for the right to outfit their sports teams.  What I don’t understand is why those schools allow Nike to deviate from their school colours just to provide a 3rd uniform in an attempt to sell more fan memorabilia.  The idea emanated in European Futbol, and has now been employed in college basketball and other sports.

So, simple logic means that since they are more concerned with selling product to fans, they may very well be less concerned about the actual needs of the feet/legs of the players !!!   My empirical proof is the seemingly yearly resurgence of a foot injury to a Duke player.

Thank for the Read !!!

Do you agree, disagree, or have another point of view ??? 

Please tell us about it …

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SDBB – “After Sleeping On It …” If You Had The Chance, What Questions Would You Want To Ask Coach K At This Point In This Disappointing Season ???

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob wonder out loud about something many other Duke fans fantasize about … being able to ask Coach K some burning questions …

Query #1

Chase Jeter has proven to be a dud, so why have you kept trying with him when you were so quick to bench guys like Alex Murphy, Mike “Silent G” Gbinije, and Semi Ojeleye ???

Rowan:

This is a very good question because as Dick Vitale observed during the Duke/Syracuse game, ” … if you give a kid a scholarship he should be able to give you at least ten minutes on the court.”

Why does Coach K give certain players numerous chances while alienating others ???  He gave Jeter so many chances to prove himself yet when Obi gets on the Court he gets yanked after one mistake.  I would love to be a fly on the wall during practice to see what Jeter does to get the benefit of the doubt, or is it because of his very high ranking and All American status ???

Bermuda Bob:

I could not agree more and like your “fly on the wall” idea. As you know, I have long discounted the “… it’s how he performs in practice …” representation.  It’s game time performance that counts the most because the pressure is diametrically opposed.  If you doubt me, why have some coaches piped in crowd noise to ready their players for big games in venues that his players would find off-putting in some way ???

Query #2

Sean Obi has proven performances at his former school, Rice.  Why did you recruit him, and watch him waste a year of eligibility, if you are not willing to play him, especially after seeing Amile go down and with Jeter failing ???

Rowan:

Sean Obi played his Freshman season at Rice where he averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds in 27 minutes.  Rice finished dead last in Conference USA and were 7-23 on the season.  An impressive stat line for a Freshman but as a team they were terrible. However, Duke did offer him a full ride after Obi decided to transfer from Rice.

One would have thought a year defending Jahlil Okafor in practice and watching Duke win their 5th National Championship under Coach K, would have Obi ready.  Despite his shortcomings he has a skill that cannot be disregarded. Rebounding !!!  Something Duke has been noticeably deficient of in their recent losses.

Would Obi have allowed Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson to grab a dozen Offensive Rebounds ??? T here are no obvious answers to these questions because Obi has yet to play relevant minutes.  One or two minutes scattered throughout the game is a small sample size.

Bermuda Bob:

You make an excellent point about a year playing “designated combatant” to “Oaks” …  I honestly thought that he would get the nod at Center this year, but when the rumours began to be spread, I knew something was awry.  Once again people were quoting his performance in Practice, that he had come in out of shape, that he wasn’t practicing hard, and things like that.

Now, I’m not discounting the heightened skill set of “Plums,” but let’s go to Dick Vitale again when he noted that “Plums” had a limited skill set, but made up for it with intensity.  Yes, he does, no honest fan would deny that … but Obi HAS those skills.  Amile compensated for them from the first Tip Off of the season.   So, why not use Obi when Amile went down … and Jeter proved to be a dud ???

Any guy who can pull down 9+ Rebounds in ANY D-1 programme, can do at least half of that in the ACC.  Duke lost a 9.3 RPG player in Amile, so why not give Obi the chance to replicate that ???  I honestly don’t get it !!!

Query #3

Is there a reason why you did not play Antonio or Obi during those blow-out games early on ???  

Rowan:

Coach K is a winner because he loves to win.  That may sound like an incredibly obvious statement but bare with me.  Knowing this team is young and inexperienced, would it not have been to Duke’s benefit to throw Jeter, Antonio and Obi into games against LBSU (105-81), Elon (105-66), or any of the teams they played in December ???

I would understand that if in practice these guys get lost on Defence, or didn’t know the offensive set plays, but in Duke games they play mostly “Man-to-Man.”  As for Offense, all they need to do is keep the other team from scoring while the main scorers for Duke get a “blow.”  There is a reason the 3 games Duke has lost recently have been close games, and you can’t discount the amount of minutes the Starters are playing.

Playing these guys in the lead up to Conference Play would have given them at least some experience, and allowed Ingram to play as hard as he can … instead of playing to avoid Fouls, as he does now.

Bermuda Bob:

We have both agreed that in the waning minutes of games, Duke’s shooting prowess falls off markedly and the answer is simple … tired legs.  I maintain that even the most fit athlete is unable to perform at the same level for an entire game. Totally re-hydration is impossible.

Plus, let’s face it … these guys are still kids !!!  That’s not a knock, it just the truth.  The Frosh were in High School last year playing with and against 9 other players with nothing close to their skill set.  The ACC is as much the “Big Time” as any other conference, so their energy level needs to be considered.

If you look at the minutes played by the top 7 guys (including Amile), they average from 34.5 MPG by Grayson to 28.3 MGP for “Plums” !!!  The next players average from 8.1 for Jeter to 2.2 for OBI …  How can the Starters maintain their energy levels if they never get enough time to recover because all the Bench guys get to do is work on their splinter-picking skills ???

Query #4

 Have you forgotten how you have broken Syracuse’s Zone Defense in the past by placing a Blue Devil at the free throw line ???

Rowan:

Ingram and Allen are far too talented to be shooting 8 Trifectas each, in a game. That tells me that they were just settling.  Ingram didn’t even shoot a Free Throw in 40 minutes of action.  We can dispute the end of the game all we want but, the reason Duke lost is not because of the non-calls on Matt Jones at the end of the game.  It was because (1) Tyler Roberson got a dozen second-chances in the form of Offensive Rebounds, and (2) Duke shot 37 3-Pointers, and made only 10.

Isn’t Ingram the perfect player to break that zone ??? I think an opportunity was missed here.

Bermuda Bob:

Somewhere in another galaxy, there’s a book explaining College Basketball on Earth, and in the reference section where “Zone Defense” is listed, it sez: “See Syracuse Basketball.”

In my opinion, the easiest was to break down a Zone Defense is by ball movement that includes a High Post on the Foul Line by a player who can both facilitate the “Drive & Dish” and be a risk to turn and drop a 15 footer. “Plums” is not that player.   Amile played the position well, but was rarely considered a scoring threat from there, even though he often pivoted for a Lay-Up when he felt unguarded.  Brandon Ingram surely is that player. Why was he lining up outside the Arc with Matt, Grayson, Luke, and Derryk ???  I think that in their weariness, they simply didn’t wish to see themselves beaten and battered as “The Chief” was last season.  Now, that might sound trite, but even with the new Rules this year, favouring the Offensive Player, much contact is allowed.

Another aspect is that everyone knows that Coach K loves a 3 Point shooter, so most of his players love to shoot, so when Syracuse gave them long shots – even some from Jimmer Fredette range – they took them !!!

Lastly, have you noticed that no one on this year’s squad employs the “Float Away” shot that Seth Curry employed so successfully ???

Query #5

Why do you insist on playing Matt Jones at Point Guard ???

Rowan:

Derryck Thornton is testing boundaries and sometimes he can be overzealous, which makes him turnover prone yet, he is a better Point Guard than Matt Jones.  Jones can’t pass and, worst of all, he can’t dribble and pass. His reaction time is too slow, and he has zero “Court Vision.”  When he drives to the paint it is a miracle.  If he gets a shot to the rim, because he is so predictable and slow, his passes always end up in the wrong hands, or he gets stripped cleanly.

In games where Duke needs to protect a lead, he is a calming presence on the perimeter, and playing Point Guard works when the Blue Devils need to kill time.

Jones should be allowed to play to his strength, being a “Spot Up” shooter and a defensive player … anything else is asking too much of him.  

Bermuda Bob:

Let’s first address the silliest rumour I’ve heard … that Coach K was surprised that Tyus Jones went to the NBA early.  To people believing this, I’ve got a bridge for you out in the desert.  “Oaks” and Tyus were linked for more years than they were not, so you had to presume both would go pro at the same time.  If you believe that, you must believe that Coach K didn’t have a vision for this year.  I simply believe he thought he had plenty at the Guard position and could interchange them at the Point.

As for Matt versus Derryck, I think he is making a mistake.  Matt is a solid player with verve and experience, and while he’s a good quarterback, he lacks some of the aspects great Point Guards are made of.   Think of Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams, or whomever else is your favourite and you’ll immediately see my point.

I think that Thronton’s inexperience is far down the list of Coach K’s problems. I simply believe that Coach K MUST put aside his traditional comfort levels and play his whole squad … if not, he might be amongst those schools wishing upon a star to get into the Big Dance in March !!! 

Query #6

Can Coach K turn this season around ???

Rowan:

 Duke Basketball Report has the utmost confidence in Coach K.  They reminded us of Duke’s early conference struggles, and go back as far as 2000, when Carlos Boozer went out with an injury, much like Amile Jefferson, to show how Coach K is a resilient man who always comes through with a solution.  Funny enough, those solutions were normally on the bench, not to mention those were two of the most talented teams Duke has ever had.

There is no easy fix for this team and I am sure Coach K will keep trying.  It’s just baffling that a man who once started a “Walk On” against his biggest rival, UNC, can’t get 30 minutes out of 3 players on scholarship against Syracuse or Notre Dame.

Bermuda Bob:

Maybe I just answered that question in the above, but let me itemize the things I’d change:

  • “Plums” has had a very good season, but someone needs to instruct him to STOP those goofy Picks out close to the Arc.  If you notice, in the games when he has excelled, he stayed in the Paint, where he belongs.  He lacks the footwork and foot-speed to recover to where he belongs, causing silly Fouls, or getting beaten along the BaseLine.
  • Utilize Obi in the same way Lance Thomas was. Many people conveniently forget that Lance was a prolific scorer in High School. His old High School Coach went public disagreeing with Coach K that National Championship year. Yeah right, buddy !!!

Note:   I’ve “borrowed” this point from a conversation Ro and I had during the ‘Cuse game, and I thought so much of it, I had to include it here.

  • Obi is the perfect player to do this.  He is a big presence who never fails to be positioned properly for a Rebound on either side of the Court. He was a .591 scorer in that position at Rice.
  • Post-Up Ingram as I mentioned earlier.  While some might think this would slow down his scoring, and it might, isn’t turning this team around and getting them back to winning the goal ???
  • Also as previously mentioned, the ENTIRE team has to be contributing and that means playing the bench.  Why has Walk-On, Nick Pagliuca played in more games (10) than Antonio (5) or Obi (9) ???   Why has Jeter stunk up the Court for 129 minutes and 14 TurnOvers, while Antonio and Obi have played a paltry 33 minutes, combined ???

Query #7        

Since the Duke Blue Devils were named for the “les Diables Bleus” a French Military Unit known for their flowing BLUE uniforms, why do you and Duke University allow Nike to put Duke Blue Devils in black uniforms ??? 

Rowan:

I think this team has bigger problems than their outfit …

Bermuda Bob:

Last year, Hall of Fame Golfer, Phil Michelson commented on why he preferred to wear black. His comment, while scientifically and grammatically incorrect, does reflect some common thinking. “It also helps me get more aggressive. Studies have shown, like NFL teams, when they wear black, they have more penalties. That’s what I need to do tomorrow is play more aggressive.” 

Everyone understands that Nike pays out tonnes of $$$ to programmes who, in turn, allow them to dictate alternative uniforms. This is so Nike can make more money on silly fans who will wear a colour that does not correspond with the school’s official colours.

My position is well documented. No player ought to be wearing black unless it is (A) the school’s official colour, (B) corresponds to the school’s namesake, or (C) corresponds to the team’s Mascot.

Black doesn’t have a place at Duke for all these reasons.  Phil Michelson is wrong, Nike is wrong, and both Coach K and the Administration are wrong to allow this to continue.  Players ought to be playing in school colours, and not be made into shill models, forced to wear a colour some marketer in Beverton, Oregon thinks will make Nike $$$ !!!

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