SDBB: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall … Can Coach K Straighten His Team Out After All ???

TO OUR READERS:

Before we go further, I must apologize to our readers for being absent since our Countdown Profiles. I have not been feeling up to snuff, and the Doctors took their sweet time in coming up with a diagnosis, as opposed to a palatable postulation. Anyway, Saturday’s game was more than I could stomach, so I will attempt to provide a faire but just commentary of the game, for the season left.

Thanks for your understanding and standing by me during these difficult times !!!

Bermuda Bob

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Mirror, Mirror

After having turned the corner of the conference season with an unforeseen loss to St. John’s, Duke looks forward to another struggling team in North Carolina.  St. John’s is a bottom-dweller in the Big East with a 0-11 conference record and 11-13 overall records. Duke had no business losing this game that they went into as a comfortable odds-on favourite.

I won’t go into what happened in the game.  They lost because they played a very inferiour game. Coach K would go on to say that they did not play their game for the first 32 minutes.  He claimed that they played as individuals, and that he did not know why.  After going on a diatribe of lamentations, like:

The team was:

  •        “… very frustrating to coach today …” or
  •        “… this is not acceptable …” or
  •        “… we’ve got to get better …” and
  •        ” … we’ve got to grow up …” … then …
  •        “… the Basketball Gods know why …”

All of these are rather hackneyed and overused observations, especially by a coach who just lost his 4th game of the season, when preseason predictions were for an undefeated, or nearly undefeated season.   Having lost 3 games in-Conference, Duke has a not-so-easy schedule that resumes on Thursday.

The comment from Coach K that wrenched my neck when I heard it was when he described the game as “… disgusting …” Really Coach ???

Now, as a 30+ year fan, observing all those ways and means that reflect my recognition of who I’m speaking to, I have to register my sincere disagreement with this type of sentiment. Coach, if the team is “disgusting” and all those other things you said in such a frustrating manner, I have to ask: “Have you looked in the mirror lately ???”            Not once in your “presser” did you once turn the sentiment to you and you Staff, and here is why:

  1. You are not using your whole team !!! You have nine (9) guys sitting on the Bench waiting, willing, and wanting to contribute, but you rarely call on them.  Any of them could start on another team, but they came to YOU because they trusted that you’d allow them to contribute.

There are many coaches who you respect, who realize that if their Starters are not getting it done, you don’t waste 32 minutes waiting for them to come into themselves, you replace them with players who WILL not be “… expressionless …” players.

  1. When you do use one of your Bench players, you can’t insert them for barely enough time to break a sweat. Bench players need and deserve to be used        fairly, but inserting …
  •          Marquis Bolden for 10 minutes …
  •          Jack White for 8 minutes …
  •          Javin DeLaurier for 2 minutes …

… doesn’t give any of them time to contribute, especially a guy who gets in for only               2 minutes !!!

  1. Replacing a Starter should be done based on their performance on that day. Being replaced, for not playing up to one’s capabilities, as opposed to only for being in foul trouble, is understood and recognized everywhere.  Sometimes the replacement ought to be en masse’ while other times, it is appropriate to give another player an opportunity to contribute.

In one of your XM Radio broadcast in January you complemented Jay Wright and Roy Williams for having “consistent” programs that have been to the Final Four twice in the last few years.  Those are just two (2) coaches who understand the idea of making substitutions when they have “… expressionless …” players.

  1. Duke is shooting a paltry 68.9% from the Charity Stripe, where points can be scored without minutes coming off the clock !!!  Why is this accepted ???         I’m really surprised that such a big factor in many pivotal games across America is being accepted. Out of the Top 100 Free Throw Shooters in America, only Gary Trent appears at 58th with 86.9% …

          Oh, if the team were to only share that percentage with Gary ???

  1. Coach, for whatever reason, you have embraced the “one-and-done” recruit. You have used the strange excuse that they were given a significant “job offer” that should not have been turned down.  That means you recruit more guys to replace the guys who left to accept up their offers.  Personally, I believe to equate a “job offer” that almost all Duke graduates expect to receive, but after 4 years of study, is why you are filled with Frosh again, while the upperclassmen languish on the Bench.
  1. If you consider the theorem that “… for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction …” every player you recruit, there will be one player who leaves for another school (as has been done by a player each year since the 2011-12 season) and another who leaves for the NBA.   That’s not equal to the student who matriculates for four (4) years to earn a degree to get a normal job offer, but you’ll bring in more guys who have no intention of staying to matriculate for four (4) years !!
  • What happened to the days of Jay Williams, who you personally orchestrated his ability to get his degree in 3 years ???
  • If full matriculation is not so important, then why do you require that a player graduate in order to have his jersey retired.  Remember when it took years for Christian Laettner to get his up there ???
  • What’s going to happen next year when the only Senior will be Antonio Vrankovic, a true Senior, and Justin Robinson, who is a Red Shirt Junior, and thereby an academic Senior ???  Are you going to make players you have disregarded for years, team Captains ???

Coach, mirrors have a great way of making things “crystal clear” so I suggest it to you.  After all, if you want to leave your legacy to be as it is presently, you have to live with the fact that starting four (4) Frosh is going to cause trouble … trouble that might be solved by the upperclassmen sitting on the Bench.

Imagine how THEY feel ???  I’ll bet you dollars-to-donuts that you did not recruit any of them to the Bench, aka the Practice Squad !!!

I wish you the best this Thursday, as always !!!

Go Duke !!!

“Rock On” !!!

Bermuda Bob

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SDBB – Duke “Countdown to Craziness” From An Attendee’s Viewpoint …

By Bill Wheeler

The bright sun warmed the late October afternoon.  As the doors opened to Cameron Indoor Stadium you could sense the temperature was going to rise inside.  My wife and I moved through the tight security and stopped in the foyer to look at some of the displays – 5 NCAA Championship rings, various sizes and colours of Nike basketball shoes worn by Duke standouts, and a history timeline of the Cameron construction.

We walked up to the second level and found our section only to have the Usher point out that we needed to weave from an upper row down to the row below and back up to reach our seats at the top of Cameron next to a steel girder.  Cameron Crazies wearing light blue horns had already filled their seats directly across the Court at the Sideline.  Graduate students filled the end line seats at both ends of the court.  The rest of the crowd filled in their seats over the next hour and a half.

For each of the 5 years we have attended Countdown, the pre-game entertainment has varied a little from the previous year.  This year there was gift certificate offered if 3 shots could be made within 30 seconds.  An award winning male dancer from Ireland tapped at mid-court over protective paper.  Musical chairs were played for 5 contestants paired with a Duke Woman’s Basketball teammate.  There were acapella singers, and an East Indian cultural dance to entertain before the Main Event.

As 8 PM, approached the song “Every Time We Touch” rang across the stadium and the Cameron Crazies began to clap in unison along with the fans standing and joining in.  When the chorus played, my wife and I kept up with the Crazies pumping our arms up and down. The National Guard marched out onto the floor and chills went down my spine as the Duke women sang the Anthem.

Thank you, Duke fans, for displaying Blue Devil and American Pride !!!

The crowd remained standing and began to reverberate yells of approval and clapped as a 2 minute video of the Duke basketball team played on the scoreboard.  Upon its completion, a florescent green string extended down from the scoreboard to the Court.  My wife asked me what it meant.  Unknowingly, I answered it must represent an electric chord.  Jagged lights flashed on the court and radiated out from Center Court to the End Lines.  The players were introduced with their picture shown on half of the Court and their signature in florescent green on the other half, while the player danced at mid-court to their favorite song.

The final player introduced was Grayson Allen and the noise level reached a deafening approval.  “Every Time We Touch” played again with fans clapping in unison.  Saturday, in the Duke bookstore, I saw this season Duke Men’s Basketball Yeam banner titled “Electric.”

Having watched some of the Freshmen highlight videos, it was interesting to see their skills in real time combined with some impressive improvements from the returning players. Javin DeLaurier was the top rebounder with 9, 3 Assists, and only scoring 3 Points.  Later I learned he was nursing a tender hamstring.

The Blue Team was led by Gary Trent, who scored 13 points, while Wendell Carter had 11, and Alex O’Connell, dwarfed by the physical stature of the “Bigs,” scored an impressive 8 Points driving to the basket and from outside.   Trevon Duval played Point Guard for the Blue Team with 3 Assists and 4 Turnovers.

His counterpart on the White Team, Jordan Goldwire showed some “Heads Up” skills with no turnovers and good defense.  Jack White led his team with 6 boards.  Marques Bolden took several minutes to work his way among the “Bigs” and finished strong.  Marvin Bagley III scored 12 Points. while Grayson Allen had 3 Assists and 13 Points.  He should be a “beast” in all phases of the game this season.

With so many “Bigs” to help out this season, this team could be impressive, of course, as long as they show up with a solid defense.

Go Duke !!!

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SDBB – 2017-18 Duke Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski

By Bermuda Bob

Michael William Krzyzewski (aka) Coach K, is the winningest College Basketball Coach of the Post-Wooden (Modern) era, and acknowledged by many (not all Duke fans) to be the greatest College Basketball Coach alive today.  Many, like myself, acknowledge that the Post-Wooden era began with the:

  • Coast-to-coast team travel within the season & post season …
  • Real Time, coast-to-coast TV coverage of the season …
  • Real Time, coast-to-coast TV coverage of the entire Big Dance …
  • ESPN becomes synonymous with college basketball …
  • CBS becomes synonymous with “The Big Dance” …

This is not to forget to mention the contributions of  Dick Vitale, the most widely recognized Hall of Fame Commentator in college basketball …

During this time, beginning in March of 1980, Coach K has:

  • Won 5 College Basketball National Championships …
  • 31 of 32 “Big Dance” appearances – 22 straight since 1996 …
  • Winningest active coach in “Big Dance” play, a 86–25 record …
  • 13 ACC Championships …
  • 12 Final Fours …

During each of his National Championship winning years Coach K has had teams with a core of pivotal players …

  • 1991 & 1991 –  Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, & Grant Hill …
  • 2001 – Carlos Booser, Jay Williams, Shane Battier, & Mike Dunleavy …
  •  2010 – Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Brian Zoubek, & Lance Thomas
  •  2015  –  Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, & Grayson Allen …

All of these aspects make up just a part of Coach K , but prove, conclusively that Coach is the best of all time and that the Wooden era ought to be considered the “pre-modern” aspect of college basketball.

Coach K is also the “Bionic Man” having had:

  • 1994 – Remove a fragment of a herniated disk in his lower back …
  • 2001 – Left Hip Replacement
  • 2002 – Right Hip Replacement
  • 2017 – Remove 2nd fragment of  herniated disk in his lower back …
  • 2017 – Left Knee Replacement …

The question of this presentation is ask., considering that with all his surgeries, he has been given new lift:

“How long can Coach K continue to coach ???”

In closing, as this new season begins, with a team that is chock-a-block full of highly ranked players, as we have presented to you over the past fortnight …

Can Coach K get his 6th National Championship ??? 

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@SimpleDukeBB

 

 

SDBB – 2017-18 Duke Associate Head Coach, Jeff Capel

By Bermuda Bob

Felton Jeffrey “Jeff” Capel III  is in his 7th season on the Duke staff, and 4th as Associate Head Coach.  Jeff was a Head Coach at VCU.  He then Oklahoma, lead them to 3 Big Dance appearances, and an Elite 8 appearance in 2008.  Overall, his coaching career is as follows:

  • 2000-2001 – Assistant Coach at Old Dominion …
  • 2001-2002 – Assistant Coach at Virginia Commonwealth …
  • 2002-2006 – Head Coach at Virginia Commonwealth …
  • 2006-2011 – Head Coach at Oklahoma …
  • 2011-Prsent – Associate Head Coach at Duke ...

Jeff has been instrumental to some degree of the recruiting of just about every player coming to Duke since he came back to Duke.  Then, once they are in a Duke uniform, Jeff would become integral to their players development.   Since he took over the reigns of Associate Head Coach to Coach K, he has seen Duke earn:

2015 National Championship

2017 ACC Tournament Championship

Capel graduated from Duke in 1997 with a B.A. in History.  In 2003, he married fellow Duke alumna, Kanika Réale Blue.  Their daughters are Cameron and Sydney.  Their son is Elijah.

Editor’s Note:

Capel’s wife is the daughter of Daniel T. Blue Jr., a Democratic member of the North Carolina Senate, representing the state’s 14th Senate District, and is the Senate Minority Leader.   He is also on Duke University’s Board of Trustees, and was elected chairman in 2009.   He was the first African American to chair Duke’s board.

Personal Trivia Note: 

Jeff and I share our birthday with Abraham Lincoln.

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SDBB – 2017-18 Coach K’s Assistants at Duke …

By Bill Wheeler

Duke is unique from other major college basketball programs with 4 Assistant Coaches who played their college ball at Duke under Coach K.   There are 3 who were on National Championship teams.   This brings solid continuity to communicating and implementing the Head Coach’s expectations.   One question we ask is if the impacts challenges to the Coach K’s idiosyncrasy of limiting player game development to 7 or 8 players in the past several seasons.  So, without further adieu, here are Coach K’s Right Hand Men …

Nolan Smith, Special Assistant to Coach K

Nolan is the latest Duke graduate to join the team as a Special Assistant in February 2016. He played for the Blue Devils from from 2009 to 2011, and helped lead Duke to the 2010 NCAA title.   His duties now include assisting the coaching staff in developing game strategies, breaking down game film, planning practices and contributing in staff meetings..

He has volunteered with Teen Cancer America and was named its North Carolina State Ambassador in the summer of 2016.

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Jon Scheyer, Assistant Coach

Jon is in his 4th year as an Assistant Coach after joining the staff as a Special Assistant. Jon  Duke to the 2010 NCAA title, and named MVP in the Championship game.  After graduation in 2010, he played in the NBA’s summer league and suffered an eye poke to his right eye that resulted in optic nerve damage and legal blindness. “Mentally and physically, it took a lot of hours in the gym to get my skill back.”   Jon has been instrumental in developing Duke players Tyus Jones, Frank Jackson and Luke Kennard.    This year he recruited Alex O’Connell.   This past May, Jon married the former, Marcelle Provencial.

The following is a link to a Sporting News article about Scheyer’s injury:

http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-basketball/news/4498716-jon-scheyer-duke-assistant-blind-in-one-eye-blue-devils-2010-champions-coach-k

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Nate James, Assistant Coach

Nate is in his 11th year as a member of the Duke staff.  He played on Duke’s 2001 NCAA title team and was an assistant coach on the 2010 and 2015 title teams.    Following his Duke graduation, Nate played professionally in the United States and overseas.   He has served as an Assistant Strength Coach, Special Assistant and Assistant Coach.   Nate has a knack for training front-line players including Jabari Parker, The 3 Plumlee brothers, Jahlil Okafor and Harry Giles.  He was instrumental in recruiting 4 ranked forwards on this season’s team:   Jordan Goldwire, Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden, & Antonio Vrankovic,

Nate and his wife Bobbi have a son Nathanial.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Grayson Allen

By Bermuda Bob

Grayson is a 6’5″ 205 lb. Senior Guard, who will again wear #3 this year.  Grayson returns as the sole Senior and sole Captain.

Grayson’s story exemplifies what it means to “be ready” and ready he was as a Frosh in 2015 when he was brought in off the Bench in the National Championship game against Wisconsin, dazzling everyone.  It caused Coach K to create a new award for the annual sports awards dinner,, called “The One Shining Moment” award.

Grayson has career averages of 13.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG.  His shooting average was  43.5% from the Floor, .38.6% from outside the Arch, and 83% from the Charity Stripe.

Grayson is a 3 time honoree to the All-ACC Academic Team.  He graduated Cum Laude from Providence School and earned an Advanced Placement Diploma.

Grayson has had a stellar stay at Duke, with the exception of his unfathomable spree of tripping opponents.  As he lost his Co-Captaincy last year, along with a suspension, there were many wondering if he would be re-named as Captain.  Gladly, he has earned back that honour in the eyes of Coach K and his assistants.

There were many expectations that Grayson might leave Duke last year for the NBA, but he has always noted that he promised himself and his family that he would graduate.  He also returned to reconstitute his reputation, and I’m sure every Duke fan hopes he can accomplish that before he graduates.

As may be expected, he is not only the Captain, but he must be the leader of this very young team where talent is superabundant.

Grayson is the son of William and Sherry Allen.

He is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and volunteered with Best Buddies, an international organization of volunteers that create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Antonio Vrankovic

By Bill Wheeler

Antonio was recruited to Duke by Nate James 2 years ago.  This year as a Junior, he is listed as a 7′ 269 lb Center who will again wear #30 for Duke.  Last season, Antonio played in 13 games, averaged 7.8 MPG, 2.5 PPG and 2.6 RPG.  From the bench, he was one of the most vocal leaders and maintained a great attitude.

Like his father, Stojko, Antonio fills out a solid physical like a statue.  Stojko played in the NBA for 5 seasons in the 1990’s and in 2 Olympics for Yugoslavia.

As Marques Bolden returns at Center and a strong roster of 5 Forwards, it is questionable Antonio will see more playing time.  If Duke plays big, then we may see Antonio play more minutes with the second group, however, he needs to improve his aggressiveness on Defense and Free Throw completions.  In a couple of games last year he showed flashes of his Defense and Offense skills on Blocks and Put Backs.  We expect the coaches to draw on his leadership in practice, and off the court to help out with leading the 8 Freshmen.

Antonio’s hometown is listed as Zagreb, Croatia; he was born in Minneapolis and is the son of Stojko and Lovorka Vrankovic.  He has two older sisters Andrea and Matea.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Jack White

By Bermuda Bob

Jack is a 6’7″ 226 lb. Sophomore Forward from Traralgon, Victoria, Australia, and will again wear #41 this year.  Before coming to Duke, he played on the FIBA Under 16, 17, and 19 teams producing respectable numbers.  He played High School ball for The Australian Institute of Sport.

Once again, Duke has one of the deepest rosters in college basketball.  Coach K tends to keep his rotations as short as possible, no more than 7 or 8 players.  Last year,that made it an uphill battle for a little heralded international player to get meaningful playing time.  I presume by now, that he is well aware of the situation.  The confidence he has in himself must be stellar inasmuch as Jack saw only 61 minutes in 10 games last year.

During the mass exodus after last season, there were some, like myself, who thought Jack might seek out one of the mid-Major schools who originally recruited him.  There was not a peep in the media about his looking to transfer, even if he is as buried on the depth charts as he was last year.  It reminded me of his quote I found last year.  Here it is:

“It’s a different path to what most Aussie kids take and that makes it a great challenge in itself, I have confidence I can play straight away but Duke don’t promise anything to anyone whether you are an international kid or a McDonald’s All-American.  That’s part of the challenge, working for your opportunities and proving what you have got.  It’s going to be a great challenge but one I’m ready for.”

In a pre-season video presented on GoDuke.com, Jack explains his mindset dedicated to being ready.  Here’s the link to it:

http://www.goduke.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?&db_oem_id=4200&id=6217005

So, again this year, I find Jack in Limbo on an even more talented team than last year.  I sure hope he is taking advantage of the Duke education being availed to him.

Jack is the son of Jeff and Rachel White.

He has a twin, Ben and a sister, Emma.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Justin Robinson

By Bermuda Bob

Justin is a 6’9″ 198 lb Forward who wears the same #50 as his father, San Antonio great, David Robinson. Even though he possesses an incredible wingspan, Justin easily fell thru the cracks by only appearing in 6 games thus far at Duke.

Justin first came to Duke as a “Walk On” because of his academic prowess. so for the 2015-16 season, he was Red Shirted.  Last year he was referred to as a Red Shirt Freshman but was an academic Sophomore.  This year he emerges as a Red Shirt Sophomore and an academic Junior.  Essentially, he will end up with a year of eligibility left after graduation, much like Sean Obi did this year, winding him up at Maryland.

Justin is the youngest son of “The Admiral” David and Valerie Robinson.  His brothers are Corey and David.  His father’s career in both college (Navy) and the NBA (San Antonio Spurs) are epic, and I’m sure Justin could recite them in his sleep, so I won’t bore you with them here.

“The Admiral” is a fixture at Duke games, especially those in Cameron.

Every Duke basketball fan I know has nothing but high hopes for Justin for this, and subsequent years.  He will surely get some still competition from the other upperclassmen, Jack White and Javin DeLaurier, at Forward.

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Javin DeLaurier

By Bermuda Bob

Javin is a 6’10” 231 lb. Sophomore Power Forward, who will wear #12 again this year for Duke.  Last year, he expected it to be a learning year, and learn he did !!!  This year, Coach K has not been shy in claiming that Javin could be part of the starting rotation.

He has been learning indeed, and over the past year, he has become the most athletic player and one of the hardest workers, improving every aspect of his game.

Javin’s middle name is Que.  He is the son of Jason and C’ta DeLaurier, and has 3 brothers, Ethan, Eli and Jack.  His Mom was the 1993 Atlantic 10 Tournament Most Valuable Player while wearing a Rutgers uniform.

I wish Javin a wonderful season.  I have high hopes that he will contribute in a variety of ways !!!

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