SDBB: Looking at Duke’s First Big Dance Weekend, and a Look Forward to the Sweet 16

SDBB - On to Sweet 16

Tonight, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob take a look back at Duke’s first weekend in the Big Dance, and then look forward to the challenges that present themselves in the Sweet 16:

Query #1:

On Thursday, Duke needed an exemplary 2nd Half performance from “Plums” (9 of 10 shooting, plus 5 of 6 from the Charity Stripe) to prevail over a very talented UNC-Wilmington team that led by 3 at the Half.  Was there anything else that you’d point to as the reason why they won ???

Bermuda Bob:             

As I’ve said before, “Plums” is the toughest of the 3 brothers.  He rose to the occasion, taking advantage of the UNC-W “bigs” fouling out practically en masse.  Brandon and Grayson added 20 and 23 respectfully, but it was Grayson’s 15 of 17 shooting from the Charity Stripe that was a wonderful help.  

Rowan: 

There was a lot of whispering that this was a potential upset in the making, and it almost was, until Duke realised that they were bigger and started playing like that.

Query #2:

In that Thursday game, 51 Fouls were whistled under these new contact rules.  Since WE don’t get fined, or sanctioned, for stating our mind, what was your opinion of the officiating ???

Bermuda Bob:             

This was an abomination, especially considering that they were so inconsistent.  I’m not saying that they weren’t equally abdominal to both teams, but they routinely made calls for a violation that they didn’t call the next time it happened.  An identical Charge was called only 3 of 5 times.   I am hoping that those Refs are NOT allowed to work another game !!! 

Rowan: 

That was a lot of whistling, but it didn’t hinder Duke, this time, thankfully.

Query #3:

In this game “Plums” and Matt Jones fouled out.  Duke got only a modicum of assistance from Chase Jeter in 11 minutes on the floor, relying on a 4 Guard Line-Up.  Do you think Duke can prevail against the caliber of teams left with this solution ???

Bermuda Bob:             

In a word, NO !!!  If you look at most of the teams that prevailed into the Sweet 16, you will note that they play a full accompaniment of credible players.  Coach K has refused to play his Bench this season, thus he only had one proven player available to him, and he won’t play him.   Thus, he is short handed and his team is prone to getting “puffed” by the 10 minute mark.   I do not see that as plaguing anyone else in the Sweet 16.

Rowan: 

UNC-Wilmington utilised a 4 Guard Line-Up, so this was the perfect team for Duke to play this way against, considering the Blue Devils were bigger anyway.  I think that any 4 Guard Line-Up that Duke utilises has to have versatile defender, Matt Jones in it against any other team.

Query #4:

In the next game, against Yale, Duke had to overcome a Yale team they had beaten earlier in the year at home, but then Amile Jefferson was playing a large part.  Duke got out to an incredible start, leading by 23 at the Half, only to see Yale outscore Duke 39-23 in the 2nd Half.  What do you make of this game ???

Bermuda Bob:             

Do you remember the old children’s rhyme about the 3 Little Pigs ???  “… not by the hair on your chinny chin-chin.” ???   Well, that’s about all that Duke had left to hold on to keep from losing … the non-existent hair on the chin of a pig.   The only saving grace was that Yale had much too much to make up and too little time so to do.   

Rowan:   

Ingram and Allen started off hot which gave Duke a comfortable lead.  We now know of Plumlee’s heroics behind the scenes, encouraging his teammates to not give up.  He was also pretty good on the Court. Even though he only scored 2 Points, he hit the Boards and blocked 5 Shots.  Matt Jones may have Fouled Out, but between he and Derryk Thornton, they corralled Yale’s Makai Mason into a 2-of-12 outing. 

Query #5:          

Duke was soundly out-rebounded by Yale on both the Offensive and Defensive sides, primarily because “Plums” was outnumbered, regardless of his best efforts.  Considering that this will be the norm going forward, how do they prevail against the likes of Oregon, who logged 44 and 35 Rebounds in their previous games ???

Bermuda Bob:             

The conundrum exists that the more Duke tries to aid “Plums” with the present Starting Line-up, the more they commit Fouls.  Inasmuch as Coach K is not going to rotate all 4 “bigs,” he is left with only a 4 Guard Line-up to go to.   That won’t be enough, I fear.   Only a consistent pair of Halves shooting lights out will give Duke the chance they need to prevail.

Rowan: 

Rebounding is indeed an issue for Duke, and it has been all season, but this Duke team wins by outscoring it’s opponents.  By now we have to accept this.

Rebounding is a skill that Duke players just do not have.  They think out- jumping their opponent is the best way to do this, but it isn’t always so.  I was always taught that as soon as the Shot goes up to put a body on the closest Defender, thus preventing them from getting to the ball.  Then go for the rebound when the ball is safely off the Rim. Many people know this as “Boxing Out.”

Ingram and Plumlee will always out-jump anyone for a Rebound due to the latter’s size and the former’s athleticism.  What happens when they meet someone Like Zack August who Boxes Out like a champion, or Tyler Roberson the human pogo stick ??? Both of these players had record games, on the Boards, against Duke.

I have only seen one player who Boxes Out consistently, and that is seldom used Sean Obi.

Query #6:

It was more than insinuated by the CBS Commentators that Duke had the easiest ride to the Sweet 16 of the majority of the teams that who also got there.   What do you make of that assertion ???

Bermuda Bob:             

Well, Duke got lucky when Yale beat Baylor, a team that Duke did not match up against favourably.  I would note that there might be some credence to that argument, once again, only because of that Baylor early exit.

As an aside, considering that the Selection Committee put Kentucky and Indiana in each other’s paths, because of the refusal of “Cal-the-Lip” to schedule a Home-and-Home arrangement.   Considering Coach K’s expressed objection to ever schedule Maryland, I surely would have thought Duke and Maryland might have been placed in the same Region. Thus, creating the possibility they may cross paths in a match of former rivals.  Once again, the Selection Committee proved that all they are consistent about is their being inconsistent !!!

Rowan: 

You can only beat whoever is in front of you and worrying about anything else is futile.

Query #7:

Speaking of the CBS Commentators, whom we will have to endure for 2 more weekends, who were your favourites, and who do you wish were not around next week ???

Bermuda Bob:             

Once again, CBS has tried to put around peg in a square hole.  They insist on trying to prove that NBA Commentators are capable of doing college basketball.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Just because it’s basketball does not mean it is the same game.   All year long we listen to ESPN Commentators, but when it comes to the National Championship, with the exception of 4 or 5 guys, we are forced to deal with idiots and imbeciles.

The best team is still Jim Spinarkle and Vern Lundquist, while the best trio is Raftery, Grant Hill, and Nantz.  When the rest of them are on, I wish I could listen to the radio and watch the game to get better Commentators.  The worst team were the guys Ian Eagle was saddled with … Len “I Hate Duke” Elmore and Chris “No Time Outs Left” Webber are masters of useless, idiotic, and over-used observations.  Doug Gottlieb, on the other hand believes that because he sez it, it is gospel.   Last but not least are the NBA Studio people, who routinely prove that they are making it up as they go along.  They prove it each time they must speak without notes in their hand.

Rowan: 

Their insistence in using guys who aren’t familiar with the College Basketball landscape beyond the popular players has been simply unforgivable to the well-heeled fans.  As March Madness has many casual fans, I suppose this works for them to see a familiar face.

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Want to add yours ???

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@SimplyDukeBB

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SDBB: Updating our Recent Story: “Why Are Duke’s “Beat Reporters” Afraid To Do Their Job ???”

SDBB - Update to Our Recent Article

To Our Friends, Readers, and Fans:

We thought it would be appropriate to update you after our most recent article (13th, March) after giving the folks involved plenty of time to respond.

FOR THE RECORD:    Immediately after we published our story, we e-mailed both “Beat Reporters” and their respective Editors.  We did so en masse so they each knew how faire we wanted to be.  Here’s what happened:

A.     We heard back from Steve Wiseman’s Editor, Bob Ashley, who understandably supported Mr. Wiseman.  We are happy he enjoys such support.

The problem was that the response from Mr. Ashley was snarky and insulting.  His response did not address the topic at hand. He was given an opportunity to clarify his comments by return e-mail, or even apologize, but he has not.

B.    We NEVER heard back from Steve Wiseman, Laura Keeley, nor her Editor.

Therefore, we offer the following postulations:

A.    It is apparent that both “Beat Reporters” are only interested in hearing their own voice in what they speak, what they write, or what they post on social media.

That means they are NOT interested in the Duke fan base !!!

B.     It is evident that they cannot take simple criticism, even when it is an honest query from the Duke fan base.

That makes one wonder about the credibility and integrity of their respective Editors, especially if they will not rein in their “Beat Reporters” for not being responsive to the people they are in place to report to !!!

C.     It is obvious that they worry about the perception of some sort of impertinence toward the programme if they were to ask probative queries.

That infers that the Duke programme is not forthcoming !!!  

We honestly wonder about that …

D.    It is obvious that they are not interested in defending what they produce in any format. What type of “Beat Reporter” blocks a “follower” when they get a question they don’t wish to answer.

That must mean that they cannot handle criticism.

In the end, nothing has changed to the detriment of the inquisitive fan base, so we continue our challenge to debate the issue with either or both “Beat Reporter” …

A debate with interested participants who believe they can defend their positions.

So far … the silence is deafening !!!

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If, you the ardent Duke fan, believe that you ought to have full and faire access to these “Beat Reporters” inasmuch as they choose to post on social media, then we encourage you to let them know you demand full access !!! 

Tell them that if they can post, then they need to interact !!!

We suggest using social media, e-mail, or any other way you are comfortable with, but we urge you to have your voice heard !!!

Thank you !!

 

SDBB: Why Are Duke’s “Beat Reporters” Afraid To Do Their Job ???

SDBB - Squirrels Don't Ask Questions ???

By Bermuda Bob

There’s an old fashioned way of describing when something, or someone, bothers you to the point where you need some form of satisfaction.  The expression is:  “I have a stone in my shoe.”  Well, recently something happened that has caused a stone to be in my shoe.  So, today I’m going to do something about it … Here we go:

 

The proper Oxford defines a “Reporter” as:

” … a person who reports, especially one employed to report news or conduct interviews for newspapers or broadcasts.”

It further defines a “Beat” as:

” … an area regularly frequented by someone … a person’s area of interest …”

So, plain and simply, when applied to sports, a “Beat Reporter” is someone who is assigned a programme to follow and report on.

When it comes to Duke Basketball, it is a very special assignment in that the Reporter would be covering a legendary programme, led by the winningest Coach in the modern era of College Basketball.

It does not require the Reporter to be a play-by-play Announcer, Duke has one of the best in Bob Harris, the “Voice of the Blue Devils” since 1976 !!!

A “Beat Reporter” is hired by a newspaper to be the insider’s eyes and ears for it’s readers.   Fans depend on those eyes and ears so as to know everything about the programme, the coaches, the players, and as much as is faire to cover of their lives outside the Court and Locker Room.

The “Beat Reporter” is essentially a conduit between the fan and their favourite team.

Today’s social media, is comprised of Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of other portals which allow for interaction.

  •        Twitter limits those interactions to 140 characters, often comprised of odd abbreviations.
  •        Facebook has less limitations, and is often full of “TMI” or stuff no one ever needs to know.

If you find the need to be enrolled in more portals, then you understand the pitfalls, and probably have too much time on your hands !!!

The problem with social media is that it carries no responsibility.  If a subscriber or a “follower” to someone’s portal, posts a comment, or DARE to question the subscriber, he or she may ignore the “follower” or worse, they may block them from ever contacting the subscriber again.

To make it a bit clearer, today’s “Beat Reporter” seems to feel that they need to use Twitter as if they were a play-by-play Announcer.  This makes no sense to me because it reduces the subsequent article moot if the fan has read the “Beat Reporter’s” Twitter feed.

To try and combine these jobs, while completely unnecessary, requires someone who needs to, first, not forget their responsibility to the fans.  By going on a portal that allows interaction, then you are expected to interact !!!

I believe that there is never a reason for a subscriber to have to withstand vulgarities, crassness, or off-topic comments. Blocking those “followers” is the only way to handle them, however, blocking someone because they do not wish to answer faire questions is irresponsible, puerile, and wrong-minded.  If you don’t want to avail yourself to faire questions, then get off of Twitter and go back to your typewriter !!!

Duke’s primary “Beat Reporters” are:

Laura Keeley works for the News Observer.

Laura never publishes her contact phone number

She only rarely publishes her e-mail: LKeeley@NewsObserver.com

Her Twitter presence is: @LauraKeeley

Laura’s Editor is: Sport’s Editor, Steve Ruinsky.

His contact phone number is 919-829-4530

His e-mail is SRuinsky@NewsObserver.com

His Twitter presence is @RRSteveRR

 

… AND …

 

Steve Wiseman works for the Herald Sun.

His contact phone number is: 919-419-6671

Steve’s e-mail is: SWiseman@HeraldSun.com

His Twitter presence is: @SteveWisemanNC

Steve’s Editor is: Bob Ashley

His contact phone number is: 919-419-6678
His e-mail is: BAshley@HeraldSun.com

 

So, recently, during Duke’s very serious rebounding problems, I wondered why Coach K was claiming he has a “short Bench” when he had two (2) “Bigs” sitting, perfecting their splinter pulling techniques.  They are Sean Obi and Antonio Vrankovic.  Obi is a proven Rebounder in his previous life at Rice before transferring to Duke.  Antonio is a Frosh, but still worthy of being recruited and being given a uniform.

Our concerns were bolstered by a comment made by Broadcast & Basketball Hall of Fame Legend Dick Vitale, who noted that any kid given a uniform ought to be given the chance to contribute at least 10 minutes.

So, I posed the question to both Miss Keeley and Mr. Wiseman on their Twitter sites this way:

To Mr. Wiseman:

SDBB: During the PITT game on the 28th of February …

“When are you going to ask Coach K why he refuses to play Obi ???

You’re not afraid, are you ???”

 Mr Wiseman replied:

“OBJECTION Asked and answered counselor. He’s not ready to compete at this level in the staff’s opinion. The end”

On the 1st of March, I wrote an article that was going to use this very quote, so, in the sense of fairness, I messaged Mr. Wiseman on Twitter, whereupon he promptly blocked us from further contacting him there.  A strange response to a hand extended in friendship.

To Laura Keeley:

SDBB: During the UNC Rebounding debacle on the 5th of March …

“Maybe you could ask Coach K why he didn’t use Obi & Antonio to give his kids a blow & presence down low !?!?!”

Miss Keeley replied:

“… they’re not good enough.  Move on from that …”

 

So, here is my beef.  If a “Beat Reporter” is supposed to be the eyes and ears of their readers who rely on their asking the questions the fans want asked, then:

  1. Why haven’t either Miss Keeley nor Mr. Wiseman asked a follow-up question to such a ridiculously phrased answer ???
  1. Why are Miss Keeley and Mr. Wiseman so emphatic, adamant, and dogmatic in their replies to a simple and reasonable question ???

So, as I asked in our article of the 1st of March:

Don’t you realize that you are supposed to be the eyes and ears of the programme for the fans (your readers) ???

By the very position you hold, you have the responsibility to be the voice of the fans who read your efforts.

Don’t your readers deserve your best efforts at getting ALL reasonable questions answered ???

Don’t you realize that when you don’t ask probative questions to odd replies, you fuel conjecture, and even conspiracy theories, that often make some modicum of sense ???

Inasmuch as neither of you have asked probative questions, our readers have wondered things like:

  •  Does “Coach K’s Dog House” really exist, and why does a player gets into it …
  • One reader took it in another direction, wondering if Obi caused Amile’s injury in practice, so his not playing is a punishment …
  • Another wondered if Obi was not playing because Coach K feared that Obi might outshine “Plums”
  • Coach K has asserted that he doesn’t have enough players for practice.  The last time I looked, he had 13 players dressing, and one (1) injured.  I may be missing something, but that’s 12 players when only 10 are needed to play a Blue & White game, or Practice !!!

There, you’ve just been given questions that make sense and have easy answers. 

See, that’s how it’s done ???

I am not asking for the world.  We’re asking why you have not posed a follow-up to a very vanilla response.  We’d also like to know why, when asked why you didn’t ask a follow-up question, you acted so unreasonably ???

NOTE:

So, in yet another extension of fairness, on the overnight before the North Carolina State game I reached out to both Mr. Wiseman and Miss Keeley by e-mail. Neither replied, however, Miss Keeley promptly blocked us on Twitter.

I certainly don’t believe that this is a responsible reaction to a simple question posed of you in your position as the eyes and ears of the fans …

Why didn’t you ask a simple follow-up question ???

Was it so difficult to ask when they expected these players WOULD be ready ???

There are simple answers to the above questions.

Where are the answers ???

So, shortly after publishing this article, I will be sending a link to both of these folks AND their Editors.

Someone needs to challenge such immaturity and arrogance.  If you take the jobs you both have, you have a responsibility to NOT shut yourself away from reasonable questions, even if they are probative, or even point out a failure on your part.  Once again, there are simple answers to the above questions.  Where are the answers ???

I would ask any of our readers who are so moved to join me in my quest for answers.  I believe we all deserve it !!!

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Thanks for reading !!!

As always, if you have questions or comments, please feel free to do so here, or on our Twitter site, where you will not be blocked for asking realistic questions:

@SimplyDukeBB

SDBB: The ACC Conference Season is Over: So … NOW, What Do We Think ???

Thinker w_Cloud

Tonight, with the ACC Conference Season over, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss their impressions of the Duke team 

… and …

Look forward to the ACC Tournament

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Query #1:

Do you have any reflections on this year’s ACC Conference Season ???

Bermuda Bob:        

After the unfortunate injury of Amile in practice on the 12th of December, Duke was never the same.  They went 4 & 4 in January.  They went 6 & 2 in February, but, they only beat Virginia by one (1) Point on an acrobatic buzzer beater by Grayson Allen, and only by one (1) more Point due to a coaching error at UNC.  They swapped wins with Louisville and got embarrassed at PITT.  They went 1 & 1 in March.  This was not the team anyone expected after the highlighted recruiting.

Rowan: 

The conference was pretty competitive, this year. Duke finished with an 11-7 record but they were in every game except one (1) and that was the 14 point loss to PITT.  Duke may have finished middle of the pact, or 4th with Louisville’s “dislodgement,” but they were one or two moves away from the top.

Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram have played some exceptional games.  With the injury to Amile it is a wonder they didn’t lose much more.  These guys have proven to be very resilient and it was a pleasure to cheer for them.

Marshall Plumlee has been a revelation at times.  Derryck Thornton has probably lost all confidence in his go-to mid-range shot, but there is no better ball hound on Defense, than he in the conference.

Matt Jones got injured, yet even though he is still visibly hobbled, he is still competing.  There is no doubt that Luke Kennard will set some records at Duke, but right now his Jekyll and Hyde act is limiting him.  The more he plays, the more confidence he will have in his abilities.

Query #2

What’s your biggest question about what you saw this conference season ???

Bermuda Bob:        

The biggest question loomed around why Coach K insisted that he had a “short Bench” when he had a full accompaniment of 3 replacements to, at least, ameliorate Amile’s absence.  He had:

(A) Chase Jeter, who turned out to be a highly over-rated faulty flop.  His hands were terrible, he averaged a Personal Foul every 4.34 minutes or 1.74 per game.  He was a hot mess, but Coach K played him 204 minutes in 27 games.

(B) Former proven Rebounder, Sean Obi but inexplicably only played him 21 minutes in only 9 games.

(C) Frosh Antonio Vrankovic played 14 minutes in 5 games.

When I put the question to Duke two (2) “beat reporters” my replies were:

Steve Wiseman:   “OBJECTION Asked and answered counselor.  He’s not ready to compete at this level in staff’s opinion.  The end.” and then he blocked us on Twitter.

Laura Keeley:   ” … they’re not good enough.  Move on from that …”  

Obviously, both are afraid to ask a follow-up question to clarify such a ridiculous assertion, especially when …

Duke was getting killed in the Paint game after game after game.  Sunday’s season finale against UNC was the worst, as Duke was out-rebounded 58 to 26.  One Carolina Player pulled down 21 Rebounds while the Duke Starters only had 22 !!!   If there is anyone out there who doesn’t think my questions are valid, then we’re not watching the same Duke team …

Rowan: 

Yes it is baffling that one of the best coaches in the business couldn’t find some minutes off his Bench.  Duke’s biggest weakness was in the Front Court and they just happen to have 3 guys 6’8″ or taller on the Bench, but couldn’t get anything out of them.  One was given numerous opportunities to prove himself, while they didn’t even bother with the other two.

I guess this is hard to comprehend because the days of stashing players on the Bench for later development seems to be well and truly behind us with Coach K fully invested in the ‘one and done’ culture.  As fans, we have come to expect each scholarship recruit to earn his spot from day one.

We expected Sean Obi to be a beast on the glass but from the moment the season started he was on the outside looking in when Coach K designated him a “9th player” in a matter of fact way, at the season opening Press Conference.  Since then Obi has clearly been out of favour and we can safely write him off for this season.

Just before the UNC game I spent half an hour watching Duke’s layup lines and while all the players used every opportunity to practice game shots, coupled in with a few show time dunks (they are all kids after all!) all Jeter did was try impress with his dunks.  We may have been told that Obi and Antonio were not ready, however Jeter has proven he isn’t.

 Query #3:

Do you have any thoughts about Duke, going into their 2nd Round game on Wednesday at 2PM EST ???

 Bermuda Bob:

I do not hold out much hope for this team to move very far forward. Duke has had a very obvious stamina problem all season long.  It is because Coach K has played his Starters, or his 5 hottest players without a “blow” throughout conference season.  The result has been that around the 10 minute mark in the 2nd Half, Duke shows tired legs.  Shots are left short or carom wildly off the back of the Rim. Duke has struggled especially in the Paint, often leaving “Plums” triple teamed, regardless of his best efforts.  He was given no help from the Bench. I simply don’t see them playing 4 days in a row against teams they have lost to.

If they win their first match, they draw Notre Dame … should they win there, they play either ‘Cuse or UNC … I don’t see it happening.  The only variable would be playing Obi and Antonio about 10 minutes a game, but unless Coach K is playing the ACC version of “lopelee” it’s not in the cards.

Rowan: 

I think that Duke can go far in the ACC Tournament, and they would need to if they are to retain that projected #4 seed in the NCAA tournament.  All 5 Players just need to hit those boards. Playing only 2 or 3 outside, and not 4 players on the perimeter, with Plumlee inside.  Mix up the Offense.  Duke is too good a Free Throw shooting team to be settling for 3 Pointers.

Also, whenever Thornton makes a mistake he gets yanked but other players are not beholden to that process.  He is a “score-first” Point Guard that needs the shackles to be removed.  Let him lose a la Nolan Smith !!!  Especially when the other team plays man-to-man, because not many Guards can keep up with him.

Query #4:

Are you happy with the Post Season Awards ???

Rowan:

On the face of it I thought Allen deserved to win most improved player but when I looked at the statistics closer for Jaron Blossomgame it appears his playing time increased minimally while his scoring and shooting percentages improved drastically. A deserved win.

Bermuda Bob:

I was happy with where everyone landed. At first, I was curious about Grayson Allen not being named #1, but upon seeing that Malcomb Brogdon won it, I could not question it. Hopefully, Grayson will come back next year to win it !!!

BTW: The GoDuke claims that Grayson & Jaron were names co-most improved … maybe an afterthought, eh ???

Query #5:

Anything else you would like to add ???

Rowan:

Eight (8) years of Plumlees came to an end in Cameron Indoor with the loss to UNC last week.  I challenge you to find another set of brothers in the last two decades who has been more productive than the Plumlees.  The O’Bannon brothers won a Championship for UCLA while the Plumlees won 2 for Duke.

Marshall will probably not be an All American like Mason but without him (Marshall) Duke probably would not be looking at a bid this season.

Marshall has come a very long way from his Freshman season, and if Duke is to go far in the tournament they will need him to be very productive.

Bermuda Bob:

When I first heard that all 3 Plumlee brothers were going to play at Duke, I nick named them the “PlumTrees” as an homage to what looked like 3 wonderful boys, and, instead of trying to remember who was who, I named them #1 = Miles, #2 = Mason, and #3 = Marshall.   WOW, over a millions dollars of tuition saved by their parents, but moreover, they were kids any parent would be proud of !!!

I have said it before, so I might as well say it one more time … I do not believe that either #1 or #2 fulfilled the reason of their recruitment.  Both were not major role players in their Championships, but interestingly, both became much better players in the NBA.  That might go to the knock on Coach K that he has really never known how to play/coach “Bigs” … well, until he got “Oaks” last year.

I think #3, or “Plums” as I came to call him, benefited greatly from having been the practice partner to “Oaks” and it showed on plenty of occasions this season.  I think he was by-far a tougher player than his big brothers.  He always hustled, never gave up trying to score until he was fouled, and played both sides of the Court.   I think he became much more important to this team than his brothers before him.  Unfortunately, he very rarely had enough help down low, or he might have sparkled even more.

I applaud Marshall for his patriotism, but I will always wonder what would have become of him in the NBA. Maybe someday …

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Thanks for spending your time to read our thoughts …

We always welcome your thoughts either here, or on our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

SDBB: Duke Ruins a Nice Sunday Afternoon at PITT, Creating More Questions Than Answers

Questions & Answers

By Bermuda Bob

Ro didn’t get today’s game, so you’re stuck with me and my thoughts on one of the most embarrassing and frustrating outings I can recall in recent Duke history.   As Betty Davis once observed:

“Fasten Your Seatbelts, Were Going to Have a Bumpy Ride” …

Today was a beautifully sunny and unusually warm February Sunday where we live.   We opened the windows to allow the warm natural air into our place to switch-out the winter stuffiness.  It was a welcomed treat.   I wish I could have furthered the treat with an exemplary Duke performance.   It was not to be …

Duke came into Petersen Events Center to meet PITT and all 12 of their players who would contribute to a complete and utter thumping.  Of those 12 were 5 Seniors who were fêted on Senior Afternoon.

PITT needed a win to bolster their resume for the Big Dance and Duke needed to prove that many of their recent wins were not a fluke.   I’m pretty sure the former was accomplished, but I’m not so sure about the latter.

From the very start, PITT would shoot “lights out,” scoring the first 10 points, and never looked back.  They would enjoy as much as a 13 Point lead.   PITT continued their abuse until Brandon Ingram began a run that would bring Duke to within 39-32 at the Half.

PITT started off the 2nd Half just like the 1st … They quickly scored often to return their lead to double digits.  Duke tried to counter but never got closer than a 10 Point margin, then try as they did, tired legs and fatigue reared it’s ugly head as it has in just about every conference season game.  PITT went on a 16-3 run.  Shots were left short on the rim, or long, caroming off the back of the rim, or even caught nothing but air.

Here are the ugly facts of the game:

REBOUNDING:

“Plums” was not allowed to even think of shooting, and he only grabbed 4 Rebounds of Duke’s paltry 20 for the game.  PITT would grab 39 by contrast, 23 of them on the Offensive Boards that often were put backs for scores.

Admittedly, “Plums” was practically always triple teamed.  Unfortunately, he was offered no help.  He was replaced with Chase Jeter, who committed 2 quick Fouls, a Turnover, and a missed shot in another poor outing.  He only lasted 9 minutes in total on the Court.

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Question the Answers

I might as well get this off my chest now.  I must wonder why Sean Obi was not inserted.  He is a wide-bodied proven Rebounder in his previous life at Rice, and while Rice is not Duke, a Rebounder is a Rebounder in any circumstance !!!

I posted an open inquiry on Twitter today during the game, asking jointly Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald-Sun, and Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer:

“When are you going to ask Coach K why he refuses to play Obi ???

You’re not afraid, are you ???

Keeley did not reply, but Wiseman, to his credit, did:

“OBJECTION Asked and answered counselor.  He’s not ready to compete at this level in staff’s opinion.  The end.”

I must admit that I believe there is much more to it than such a guarded vanilla response.

PLEASE NOTE:          As I could not find an e-mail address for Mr. Wiseman both on his Twitter site and at his newspaper, I tweeted him, asking for an e-mail response if he objected to our using his quote.   His response was to Block us on Twitter.   We received no e-mail response.  It is an curiously illogical action that causes more questions than were already on the table !!!

I fully understand that Beat Reporters serve at the pleasure of the programme, and that there is always a replacement waiting in the wings.  I also understand respect for Coach K.  I pay attention to wordings.  Mr. Wiseman indicated in his Tweet that it was the opinion of the Staff, so why not a more probative query ???   The Staff is not Coach K, and if they are allowed to comment, they ought to be probed to a respectful degree.

To Mr. Wiseman and Miss KeeleyDon’t the you realize that you are supposed to be the the eyes and ears of the programme for the fans ???  You have the opportunity to be the voice of the fans who read your efforts.   Don’t your readers deserve your best efforts in getting ALL reasonable questions answered ???

Don’t you realize that when you don’t ask probative questions for odd answers, you fuel conjecture, and even conspiracy theories, that often make some modicum of sense ???

Because neither of you have asked probative questions, our readers have wondered things like if  “Coach K’sDog House”  really exists and why a player gets into it.  One reader took it in another direction, wondering if Obi caused Amile’s injury in practice.

Coach K has asserted that he doesn’t have enough players for practice.  The last time I looked, he had 13 players dressing, and one (1) injured.  I may be missing something, but that’s 12 players when only 10 are needed to play a Blue & White game, or Practice !!!

There, you’ve just been given questions that make sense and have easy answers.   See, that’s how it’s done !!!

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Further to the game and the season, Coach K has consistently given Jeter a chance to prove himself, and he has failed on most outings.  So, why didn’t Obi, or even Antonio Vrankovic, get a chance, especially when “Plums” was being so neutralized ???

The most glaring example of Coach K’s resistance to play his Bench, was exemplified by 2 facts:

(1)  At one point in the 2nd Half, with Jeter ineffective, as usual, Ingram played the #5 Spot.

(2)  When the game was obviously lost, he refused to insert anyone, leaving Starters on the Court with a 14 Point differential.

I must admit that I was unsettled to read in the The Chronicle that Coach K commented that:

“We could not muster up anything today.  They’re big in every way …  It’s not like we didn’t expect it. We couldn’t stop it.”

Such reticence is both unsettling and unbecoming, even for the greatest coach of the modern college basketball era, whom I respect greatly.  If you aren’t going to play a kid, why then, did you bother to recruit him and give him a uniform ???

While I’m speaking about Legends, I’ll refer you to another – Dick Vitale, who a few games ago commented that any kid worth recruiting, and being given a uniform, ought to be allowed to contribute 10 minutes a game.  Such logic is refreshing.  As a Senior Statesman of College Basketball, I believe he was trying to convey a message to Coach K.  Apparently, it was either never received, or ignored out of hand.

SCORING:

Duke shot a meager 34.4% from outside the Arc and 37.5% inside … pathetic by any yardstick. They were soundly outscored in the Paint, 24-6, while throwing up 32 Trifectas, making only 11.  By comparison, PITT shot 50% from outside the Arc and 40% inside.  The only statistic where Duke prevailed was at the Charity Stripe where they logged an impressive 93.8% to PITT’s 80%

ET CETERA

Duke committed 13 TurnOvers, and helped themselves with only 10 Assists.

One continuing aspect of Duke’s Offense is that they rarely seem to be running “plays.”  Instead, they depend on ball movement and individual prowess.  So, if everyone is flat, then what do they do next ???  Today was that “next” !!!

It’s time to be frank …

In the last 5 games, Duke has lost to PITT and Louisville, both teams soundly beat them on the Boards … They beat a sub-par Florida State … They beat Virginia on a buzzer beater, and North Carolina on a coaching error … Each by only one (1) Point.

In each and every Duke game, they run out of gas at the 10-minute mark, plus or minus.  The Bench is never used, and only Kennard and Jeter are.  Kennard has had some splendid games, but Jeter has been a first class dud.

Amile is not coming back this year. I believe he will apply for an Injury Red Shirt and anchor next year’s squad along with Matt.  While last year’s hue and cry, after Rasheed was dismissed, was that “8 is Enough” … The same can’t be said for #6 or #7, especially when #7 is a clunker.

We can never forget that when a team brings in Frosh and makes them Starters, unless they are incredibly formidable like last year’s trio, they’re fitness will never be equal to upperclassmen who have had the benefit of the Duke fitness regimen during the entire year.

Playing kids more does not condition them, it wears down their core.  Remember when Interns were required to work an incredible number of hours continuously ???   Well, those practices have been cut back, and safeguards installed because it has been found that tired bodies cause tired minds, and neither can perform to their optimum.

Additionally, while “Plums” has had his moments, it has always been against lesser competition. The worst thing his teammates can do in a game is hit him in the hands with the ball. Nevertheless, I respect him much more than I ever did his brothers.  They were expected to be more than they accomplished, but Marshall had lesser expectations and has become so much more.

Grayson and Brandon are the stars, but they are not superstars.  Neither can put the team on his back and grind out a win.   Matt does his best, but often, like today, he is unable to compensate for Amile, who could compensate for “Plums” when he leaves the Paint to cover someone, or to set one of those goofy Picks around the Arc that often have no affect.

The brightest spots in this year’s team, for me, are Luke and Derryck.  They show promise in their continued improvement.

Lastly, nothing I have said here makes me any less of a die-hard Duke fan of over 35 years, but as such, I believe that I have earned the right to be frank and honest.  Nothing I have said here ought to be construed in any other way.  If someone like me cannot make candid and forthright observations, then who can ???

As for Mr. Wiseman and Miss Keeley, if you don’t like comments, then don’t Tweet as Reporters.  You have no right to either hide behind blocked Tweets, or to refuse to provide an e-mail address.  You owe the reading public the right to reach you if you want them to read what you put up.  A Reporter reports the news for public consumption.  Without consumers, you are out of a job.  I’d gladly switch places with either of you tomorrow !!!

Thank you for allowing me to say my piece.  We appreciate your “read” and welcome your comments either here, or on Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

We promise to never block you unless you are vulgar or ungentlemanly !!!

 

As Always, Rock On !!!

Bermuda Bob