Duke’s 2018-19 Season Has Begun in a BIG Way !!!

EDITOR’S NOTE:         Since we closed out last season, I have had a rough time health-wise, which saw me admitted to Hospital a number of times, the last being recently. Unfortunately, this last one interfered with my being able to effectively put together our usual Player’s Profiles. My apologies go to both the players and our readers. I pray you will all understand and ask your indulgence.  

– Bermuda Bob

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We then begin with the beginning to the new season … and what a beginning it was !!!

In any other season, a Duke-Kentucky match-up would mean high theater, and down-to-the-last-minute play to decide the outcome. On Fan-Sided, one of their writers, under a Duke Subject Line, offered, in a ridiculously one-sided article, weaved his way thru why Kentucky would prevail.  Au Contraire, my friend.  Maybe next time you’ll use a proper Kentucky Subject Line to fabricate your conservancies.

I only mention this here because the best offerings I could find, in an effort to see what “others” thought of this year’s match-up was another article on Fan-Sided, offering “3 Takeaways from Duke’s win …”  claiming that Duke’s “… biggest issue …” was their lack of depth.   What game must this writer have been watching ???   Certainly not the one the rest of us saw.  So, to that end, here is why this squad impressed me in a BIG way …

 

  1. The Final Score was 118-84. Duke’s 3 Frosh “Bigs” scored 83 points.

While one could get silly and point out that had Coach K left all 3 Frosh “Bigs” in for the entire game, they would have jointly beaten all those players Kentucky fans gushed over … well, up until Half-Time, anyway.

 

  1. Coach K also started Marques Bolden along with Tre Jones.

Bolden, the oft-injured Center, had an outing that impressed me as much as he did when I first saw him, preceding his first injury. He had 4 Rebounds, a Block and an Assist. He had one of those nights that simply didn’t reflect how well he played in his 26 minutes. I’m so very glad to see that !!!

Tre Jones did exactly what you want your Point Guard to do – Run the team. To that end, while Tre acceded to the 83 points of the Duke’s 3 Frosh “Bigs”, his biggest contribution was 7 Assists, a Steal, and his steady, dependable control of his team.

 

  1. Coach K played his usual 8-man deep squad for double-digit minutes.

The remaining 3 guys logged in 11 minutes combined. This best surprise of the night was not the theatrics of Duke’s 3 Frosh “Bigs,” it was the highly influential night Jack White had.

The Junior Co-Captain (with roommate Javin DeLaurier) logged a team-leading 11 Rebounds, plus 3 Assists and 2 Steals in 30 minutes on the floor. Javin only played 12 minutes due to 4 quick fouls, but in that time, he logged 3 Rebounds, 2 Steals, and Block. So much for Duke’s supposed lack of depth !!!

 

  1. Duke’s 3 Frosh “BIGS” wowed fans from the very first minute.

“Flyin’ Zion” Willamson proved he is everything we were told he would be. I believe that the Score Keepers ought to have a separate column for Field Goals by Dunk to more accurately reflect a player’s game. Zion is 6’7″ and 285 lbs with incredible leaps that make one recall players of yesteryear like MJ, Dr. J, Clyde the Glide, or Dominique. Zion is said to have broken the Duke all-time vertical leap record of 40″ by as much as 5″ … Compare that to Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain’s 48″ at 7’1″ and 275 lbs. and you will understand my point.

I do not intend to minimize the performances of the other players of the Duke 3 Frosh “BIGS” soooooooooo ….

 

  1. What about Jack White ??? It has been so frustrating watching his time at Duke up to now, rooting for him to get more playing time along with Javin and Alex O’Connell. Jack’s 11 Rebounds led the team, adding 3 Assists and 2 Rebounds.

 

  1. Javin struggled from what appeared to be a case of the nerves in his new position as Co-Captain with Jack, and obviously wanting to perform well. Think of it … That spot Marques landed for this opener seems to be the most viable to be the revolving door for upperclassmen.

 

  1. It was good to see that Alex was recovered from his eye socket injury and subsequent surgery after the Canada tour.

 

  1. I feel the need to say something that some might consider ill advised, snarky, or even downright unfaire, but I feel it must be said … If I were Jason Goldwire, I’d start fishing for a place to transfer to. He should have gotten that message last year, when he only played 169 minutes, but it was confirmed with this blow-out game, where he only saw 5 minutes. How does that confirm him as the back-up Point Guard ??? The handwriting is everywhere.

 

  1. It appears that Joey Baker is going to be Red Shirted. He’s still supposed to be in High School, but he took some tests, reclassified, graduated a year early, and came to Duke. The Red Shirt will allow him a jump academically, and will allow him to emerge in an advanced spot on the team next year.

 

  1. I left this comment for last because it is something of a Red Herring for the “one-and-done” era, who caused Coach K to embrace a Zone Defense. The reasoning is that kids are more interested in their highlight videos than in working on their defensive skills. This year’s team actually looked quite good with their efforts to play “man-to-man.” So, while Coach K seemingly succumbed to a Zone, it was more to accommodate his rotisserie of Starters and Upperclassmen as he looked for other firm candidates for that 5th position that Marquis occupied on this evening.

 

IN CONCLUSION …

Duke is in an enviable place at this, the earliest point in the new season, amongst the rest of Division I schools. Coach K has assembled a fine group of young men who seem to genuinely enjoy each other and want to see the other guy excel. There is no contemptible personality exhibiting the “Hooray for me, and the hell with everyone else” and I couldn’t be happier.

 

LASTLY …

If you have not yet seen the documentary “Earn Everything,” I heartily recommend it, even if you have to use up your 7 day free offer to ESPN+ via any of the streaming portals. I already had ESPN+ because I’m also a Seria A Italian League fan and after to watch it all, you will understand why I am so high on it. Suffice to say I think that the last team that might have done something like this, attitudinally, might have been that wonderful 2010 team.  Interestingly, that team is pretty well represented on the Bench right next to Coach K in suits.

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Thanks for the read and for coming back to join us for yet another season.       Please know that you can always find us here, on Facebook, and on Twitter at:

 @SimplyDukeBB

 e always welcome comments, conversations, and debate as long as it is polite and within proper decorum.

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A PS to Bill Wheeler,

Thank you for your contributions and patience during my time of need for understanding. I hope I have included much of what you submitted in this article. If not, I’m sure your points will be woven into future pieces.

– 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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Thanks for the read !!!

We remind you that we welcome your comments both here and at our Twitter site at:

@SimpleDukeBB

SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Alex O’Connell

By Bill Wheeler

Alex is a 6’6″ 171 lbs. Guard, from Roswell, Georgia, who will wear #15 for Duke this season. He was ranked #55 overall by Rivals & #66 by Scout.  He was ranked #85 overall & #20 among Shooting Guards in the 2017 class by ESPN.

Alex comes to Duke with a multitude of accolades culminating in his being named Atlanta/North Fulton Player of the Year, as a Senior.   Thus, he attracted offers from Louisville (before the scandal), Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Georgia.

Alex is athletic and can play at the #2 and #3 positions.  He has a quick release and is a good 3-Point and Mid-Range shooter facing, or falling away from the basket.  He can also play above the Rim.

At 170 pounds he needs to add muscle and weight.  In his own words “I need to improve my ability to play through contact.”  Possessing a need to develop his body and a desire to continue his academic career, we should have a chance to be seen at Duke for the next 3 or 4 years.

He was recruited by Coach Jon Scheyer.

Alex is the son of David and Crystal O’Connell.  He has 2  brothers, Shawn and Brady. Shawn plays Forward at Georgia Southern.

His family’s athletic genes include his father, David, who played basketball for Duke from 1973 to 1976.  His 2 uncles played at Notre Dame and Xavier.

He has a strong religious background, and stated in his commitment announcement:  “First off I want to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play basketball, and to compete at the highest level… I am excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and basketball career at Duke University.”

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Thanks for the read !!!

We remind you that we welcome your comments both here and at our Twitter site at:

@SimpleDukeBB