SDBB: Point/CounterPoint – 7 Questions After 7 ACC Games – Part #2

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After 7 ACC games that leaves Duke with a paltry 3-4 ACC Record, instead of asking:

What the Hell is Going On at Out There ???” 

We’d like to continue to introduce our newest contributor, Bill Wheeler, and give our readers a chance to get to know him via his thoughts on 7 Questions, all designed to ask the question we all struggle with:  

“What the Hell is Going On at Duke ???”

Tonight, we tackle the last 4 Questions …

Point #4:

Has Coach K forsaken the idea of  “team” and given in to the individualism inherent to the “one-and-done” recruit ???

Bill:

“You develop a team to accomplish what one person alone cannot” comes from Coach K’s discussion of fist in his book, “Leading with The Heart.”   He goes on to define the meaning of the five fingers.  The fist is an iconic symbol he uses in every game.

More interesting facts about this term are found in “100 Things Duke Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Johnny Moore.  A closed fist is on the side of the 2001 National Championship ring, and a sculpture in Coach K’s office.

Should we define individualism by national awards, public criticism, looks, or draft picks, etc. ???  Seven (7) players have won National Player of the Year under Coach K, the last being JJ Reddick in 2006.

In my memory, the ire of the public has been at it’s highest with the Grayson Allen’s tripping incidents recently, versus Christian Laettner’s stomping on Kentucky’s Timberlake chest in 1992.  Facial hair and hairstyles were discussed in Point #3.

From the 2015 team, Freshmen Tyus Jones, Okafor and Winslow being drafted into the NBA was a Duke basketball record.

In my opinion, Coach K has not forsaken the idea of team.

Bermuda Bob:        

I will respectfully disagree.  Since Coach K first dipped his toe into the Rubicon of the “one-and-done” with Kyrie Irving, he has routinely subverted his teams to an individual player.

  1. Kyrie Irving should never have been allowed to return to that Duke team, who had completely re-tooled their chemistry to win the ACC for a #1 Seed.   From the first game of that Big Dance, Duke was a goner because Irving was inserted, presumably to seal his #1 NBA Draft stock.  My question is: “What about the rest of the team ???”
  1. Next came Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers, who was one of the most un-Duke-like players ever to be given a Duke jersey.  He was nothing more than a ball hog, a “gunner” or a“jock” in my day.   If you passed it to him, it never came back.  His mouth arrived on campus before he did, and Coach K subverted that entire team to him, resulting in an embarrassing exit of the Big Dance to a #15 Seed.  The kid didn’t even accompany the team back to Durham, instead going home.  I’ll never forget the picture in the Philadelphia newspapers when Duke played Temple.  Rivers had been, once again, knocked down and all 4 players were walking away from him back to the Bench, not one  looking back !!!   Mike “Silent G” Gbinije, the first of what would be successively 3 more players, left Duke as he had been subverted by Rivers.
  1. Then there was Jabari Parker, whose season was chronicled in the infamous Sports Illustrated article where it was revealed that his parents had carte blanche to contact the Coaching Staff any time they wished to question how their son was being played.
  1. Along with Parker was Rodney Hood, whom Coach K had promised a significant position on the team when he signed him after Hood had left Mississippi State.  Hood was so incredibly left-hand dominant that defenders obviously left his right wide open.  He rarely took advantage.  Alex Murphy would be the 2nd player to leave Duke after being subverted to Hood …

Oh by the way, Parker & Hood saw Duke blown out in the 1st Round of the Big Dance by a #14 Seed !!!

  1. Then there was the 2014-15 National Championship team.  No one was specifically subverted, but Semi Ojeleye realized that Coach K recruited behind his position, and by mid-season, he left for SMU, where he is a star !!!   It was also this season where Coach K told Sean Obi “We need you …” and so he left Rice for what must seem like an eternity on the Bench.
  1. Semi left because he would get no more playing time once Brandon Ingram showed up and starred, but also Chase Jeter showed up and was a dud.  Semi never got the chance Jeter did. Derryck Thornton looked over his shoulder and saw Coach K recruit behind him at the Point, and left at mid-season.  Duke was resoundingly beaten by Oregon in the Sweet 16 of the Big Dance.

It had become a seasonal wonder of mine who will be the next player to be subverted and leave to star somewhere else.  So, yes, I believe that Coach K, having been sucked into the “one-and-done” vortex, no longer worries about his whole team.  He allows too many players to languish on the Bench in favour of overworking his Starters and the additional players he plays.   I wonder if all of these player’s parents are given the Cell Phone numbers of the Coaching Staff and allowed the freedom to call any time if they wondering why their son gets more time pulling splinters than on the Court !!!

Point #5:

In every year in the past 4 years, a Duke player has left and starred at the school he landed at.  “Silent G” at Syracuse, Alex Murphy at Northeastern, Semi at SMU, and then Derryck Thornton in the middle of last year all left, all because they discovered that Coach K recruited a player who would surely subvert them in the next year. 

Do you think this is faire ???

Bill: 

Coach K has built an echelon program for which he can almost choose who comes to Duke.  Over the past 8 seasons, 8 or 9 athletes have averaged 10 or more minutes playing time.  After the 2015 National Championship, he stated “Eight is Enough.”  What about the “other” players on the team ???

It appears Coach K has subverted these players regardless of their skill, or the number of years they have been at Duke.  Playing time been given to the “one and done” Freshmen.  Duke defensive strength has diminished.  The team concept has been pushed aside for 1 or 2 “me” players each year.  The appreciation of the “other” players is non-existent.  I don’t think this is fair to those players nor the Duke fans.

Bermuda Bob:        

You have encapsulated the “wrongmindedness” that prevails at Coach K’s Duke these days. I seriously doubt that he recruits players to be “practice players” so each guy comes to Duke expecting to contribute.

College Basketball Icon, Dick Vitale noted last year (again) during a Duke game that Duke had so many guys who never get the chance to play.  He noted that if a player had been recruited and earned a uniform, then he deserved to be given the chance to contribute.  I could not agree more with him !!!

Since Coach K began the “wrongminded” practice of recruiting kids who have no intention of matriculating, he has made those kid(s) his primary emphasis to the detriment of other players who are upperclassmen.  Now, I agree that the 2015 Championship team was an exception, so let’s get that out of the way.  In every other season, Coach K allowed players who were at Duke to play and matriculate to be subverted to kids who were openly using Duke as a single season stepping stone to the NBA.

My best example of this is this year.  3 of the 6 Frosh this year ended up injured and essentially missed the non-conference season.  Considering the fact that Harry Giles has not played in a ridiculous amount of time due to his knee problems, I called for him to be RedShirted because he never had a chance to learn the Duke system.  Also, there were plenty of guys already on the team who could fill his roster spot.  That would give him another year to build himself and absorb the Duke system, but as one Twitter contributor asked me:

“How do you RedShirt a “one-and-done” ???”

Is one exclusive unto the other ???  I don’t think so.   The guy came to Duke, promptly blew out his knee again, but he still considered a “one-and-done” ???  He had not played a competitive minute in something like 22 months.  Yet, he’s given floor time to the exception of the guys who were here before him.   How is that moral or ethical ??? 

I think it reflects the “wrongmindedness” at Duke because Harry Giles has produced very little that is positive that other players on the Bench could not have surpassed.

When Jason Tatum came off the injured list, he immediately began to be given many minutes, and while he scores, he is a “ball hog” and has caused a diminution of Grayson’s & Luke’s scoring.  He has also been responsible for some unfortunate TurnOvers, the most recent being at the end of the North Carolina State game, when, instead of passing or simply getting to the Basket and maybe drawing a Foul, he employed some razzle dazzle, lost the ball, and the game was lost !!!

I have to wonder what Coach K sez to “The Admiral” – who attends every game – when the “one-and-done” kids play ahead of his son  His son, who has accommodated each and every thing Coach asked of him, but still sits, and sits, and sits.

Point #6:

Doesn’t this year prove that Coach K has become too dependent on Frosh ??? 

Bill:

My heart pounded as I stood and yelled “… REBOUND … REBOUND …” within an arm’s length of the TV.  The final horn sounded … my stomach felt empty as I mentally replayed the last minute.  Connecticut had just beaten Duke by 3 points to win the 1999 NCAA Championship.  Duke finished that season with an incredible 37 wins and 2 losses.  In another few weeks the team suffered another huge loss when freshmen Corey Maggette and William Avery, along with Sophomore Elton Brand decided to leave for the NBA. Coach K was quoted:

 When they all decided to leave, it hurt my feelings a little bit. I was sorry to see them go because you can’t establish as strong of a relationship in 1 or 2 years as you can in 4 …”

That may have been the ‘unofficial’ beginning of “one and done” Freshmen at Duke.  Unofficial, because the NBA didn’t change its rule about high school player’s eligibility until 2006.  Other Freshmen who have left after one season are Deng, Irving, Rivers, Parker, Tyus Jones, Okafor, Winslow and Ingram.  If the hype is right, 3 more freshmen could leave after this year.

Steve Fortosis’s October 2014 article “Does the One-and-Done Phenomenon Produce NCAA Winners or Not” points out Coach K ‘felt he’d be insane not to welcome this one and done talent.’  It also points out that Duke lost in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament in two 2011 and 2013.

http://dukereport.com/duke-basketball/one-done-phenomenon-produce-ncaa-winners-sfortosis/

Duke has not won the ACC regular season or tournament since 2011.  In 2015, Duke claimed a magnificent 5th National Championship with 4 Freshmen, 3 who left early and one who had pulled splinters most of the season.  2015-2016 looked like another possible repeat until Jefferson went out for rest of the season.  Duke finished tied for 5th in the conference and a 25-11 overall record.   This year Duke is 3-4 in conference and 15-5 overall.

UVA and UNC have won 4 of the last 5 regular season titles. I think Duke became too dependent on the “one and done” in 2014-15, leaving few players to develop over the next 3 years.

Bermuda Bob:        

You’ve made some excellent points, Bill.  Let me start with your final comment.  If Grayson goes, as per what seemed like his master plan, and the 3 Frosh go as they originally envisioned, next year’s Senior on the team will be Sean Obi.  A guy who has only seen stolen moments and has not even suited up this year.  Saying nothing against Obi, but that’s ridiculous.

Behind Obi among scholarship upperclassmen, will be Luke, Antonio, and Jeter.  Does that make any sense ???  Luke is the only player to see big minutes, while Jeter spends an increasing number of minutes joining Antonio on the Bench.  Where’s the inherent leadership being developed ???  The natural instinct would be to see Luke as he Captain, but doesn’t that simply slap Obi in the face one more time ???

Back to your narrative, all I would point out is that Maggette was forced to leave once his violations were revealed.  I honestly have wiped him my consciousness at Duke because he was there via lies.  Also, Deng claimed financial hardships for he and his family, something we honestly don’t have any place to comment on.

I want to thank you sincerely for finding that Coach K comment. It surely proves that he can certainly turn a phrase.  I say this in consideration of his comment regarding his 2015 losses to the NBA, calling the NBA Draft a “job offer” and also a “business opportunity” or sort.   Now, I’ll admit that those guys had nothing left to prove, but, while it certainly attracted many more “one-and-done” kids for future years, it squarely slaps education and matriculation in the face.  This from the guy who resoundingly disliked the “one-and-done” recruit, then all of a sudden, like a thief in the night, he recruits a “one-and-done” kid.  That kid openly lied about wanting to come back, even sporting the next year’s bumper sticker, only to see Coach K capitulate and deeply damage that squad.

Point #7:

What is the solution for this year’s team after an abysmal start to the ACC Season ???

Bill: 

Before I point out some possible solutions, I want to mention what the “fist” represents:

Communication, Trust,

Collective Responsibility,

Caring, and Pride.

This year’s team does not play with “fire” nor pride.

Solutions:

  • Turn to Matt Jones and Grayson Allen to bring fire on the Court.
  • Depend on 1 or 2 players to be Point Guard – Frank Jackson is my suggestion.  Do not use Allen as the Point.
  • When the 3 Freshmen are on the Court, use a Zone Defense.
  • Give more playing time to the Bench players who have height and length to challenge passing lanes and improve rebounds like Robinson and Vrankovic.
  • Play the Freshmen and other players who will not leave after this year to develop skills for next year. 

Bermuda Bob:        

I agree with each and every one of your points, and add some more …

  • Play a rotation of each and every player, giving them more than a minute here or there.  I understand giving a star player a few extra minutes at the end of the half for an extended “blow” but giving a guy less than a minute is ridiculous.  In this last game, Javin DeLaurier, a player with a ton of potential, got 1 minute, which is not enough time to even work up a sweat.
  • Get back to the idea that whomever excels in Practice plays … Even if it means Tatum, Giles, and Bolden might – heaven forbid – not get enough Floor time to prove they should be drafted this year to the NBA.  From the body language of these kids, they do not have the singular mindset devoted to Duke winning.  They often seem detached and obsessed with themselves, especially Tatum.
  • Coach Capel either possesses the same Gary Williams sweat glands, or is tremendously nervous that he might be blowing his audition as Coach K’s successor.  My suggestion is that he stop trying to wear a suit that he will sweat thru, in favour of something that doesn’t look so bad when sweat thru.  Wearing a suit, then tearing it apart (ala John Chaney) is not something you learned from Coach K !!!
  • Once again this year, the average fan has no way of interacting with the Coaching Staff via Pressers. The Beat Reporters, as I mentioned last year, cow-tow to the idea that they don’t ask awkward questions, presumably that it will be the last time they are called on.  I’d ask questions like these:
  1. Why don’t you play your upperclassmen Bench Players, namely, Antonio and Justin ???
  2. Why don’t you play your Frosh Bench Players, namely, Jack and Javin ???
  3. Why hasn’t Sean Obi suited up, and do you think he ever will ???
  4. What’s going on with Jeter ???
  5. Do you think Duke got snookered by his high recruiting stock ranking, compared to his actual abilities ???

Let’s see Duke take a page out of what our new President’s Press Secretary has done.  Let’s include “outside people” via Skype or some other portal.  Give the fans a chance to ask what they REALLY want to know !!!   I’d be first in line !!!

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SDBB: The Trouble With Duke at VaTech …

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Anyone who is an old movie fan of Alfred Hitchcock will fondlyimages-673  remember the “black comedy” classic The Trouble with Harry.   Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech made me feel the same way.

A “black comedy” has nothing to do with colour or race. It is essentially a comedic satire that causes laughter from cynicism or skepticism.   Nothing could describe where Duke is after this game more succinctly !!!

In the movie, a very stayed New England town is faced with what to do with the corpse of Harry, a local resident, whom a handful of the residents think they might have accidentally killed.   In the end, it turns out that he died of natural causes, but the machinations before that discovery remind me of Duke’s Saturday effort.

Duke was never in this game.   That’s not to take away anything from the performance of the Hokies.   They shot 55% to Duke’s 42% from the Floor and 62% to Duke’s 31% from outside the Arc. That is lights out in any type of contest !!!

Duke outrebounded Tech 41 to 33, but that’s elementary, considering that the Hokies gave plenty away in height.

So, why did this happen ???

  1. Amile and Matt did not play even close to what we had become accustomed to seeing.   Frank Jackson simply tried too hard.
  1. Luke shot an excellent game, scoring 34 Points, but his closest companion scorer was Jayson Tatum whose 18 Points came from a poor shooting percentage.   His 6 of 14 from the Floor often gave Tech scoring opportunities in Transition.
  1. The Bench was ineffective, unproductive, and impotent in the paltry 25 minutes the 4 guys got.    Harry Giles got half of those minutes and while he prevailed over the smaller Tech players with 8 Rebounds, he also committed 3 Fouls.

In his Post-Game Presser, Coach K noted that Harry was ” … learning in real time …” because ” … this is the first time in 15 months …” that he is playing. He also noted that “… he gets winded” and that his teammates are unaccustomed to playing with him.

I again call for Harry Giles to be Red-Shirted !!! He is not yet close to living up to his press-clippings, and regardless of the excuses Coach K is making for him, Duke does not have the minutes to waste on a guy who cannot perform up to expectations because of a recurring injury.   There are other guys on the Bench who can and will contribute if given meaningful playing time !!!

  1. Duke is a very different team without Grayson. He is part of the core of this team along with Amile, Matt, and Luke.   I am not calling for him to be reinstated until Coach K is convinced that his discipline has been effectual.   I’m asking for the same type of opportunity given to the Bench guys, just like Grayson got against Wisconsin.   Remember how Coach K had to create an award for the year-end dinner to recognize his performance ???

Trust me, there is more than one guy on the Bench …

Who can be that guy ???

What’s ahead ???

Georgia Tech, who defeated UNC as convincingly as the Hokies did to Duke, and in the Dean Dome !!! This year’s ACC is easily the most competitive conference across-the-board, so there will be few push-overs this year.

What needs to be done ???

Coach K has got to change his ways and play the WHOLE team, regardless of what he has done in the past.   The circumstances he is saddled with this year are very different than anything he has been faced with in the past.

This year’s Frosh are nothing like his “threesome” from 2014-15. Tatum is coming into his own, but something has happened to Bolden. Giles would better serve Duke, not himself, by returning next year to prove he is the player he was expected to be.

Grayson’s suspension has obviously been a blow to the chemistry of the upperclassmen Starters.   Coach K needs to find that additional guy who can step-up.   After all, each kid who earned a uniform was recruited for more than Practice !!!

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Uniform Watch …

Lastly, with this first conference game of the year, I’d like to institute a “Uniform Watch” to our comments.   As many of you readers will recall, I have been a vocal objector to the Duke Blue Devils wearing BLACK uniforms.   There is NEVER a time nor place when BLACK uniforms are appropriate.    In this game, for no good reason, Duke wore BLACK uniforms, which I object to as Duke has sold out to Nike, who came up with these “alternative” uniforms.   I am very sorry to say that Duke has sold out to Nike by allowing them to formulate a uniform that has nothing to do with the Duke BLUE Devils.   I believe this is an disgrace that Duke has allowed this to occur.   I hope this is the last time I need to point this out, but I seriously doubt it.

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SDBB: 10 Questions for Duke Going Into Conference Play

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Today, Bermuda Bob shares his thoughts and impressions on the non-conference as we look to the ACC Conference season at Noon on Saturday …

  1.  Can a team have too much talent ???

YES !!!   Duke has too many overlapping situations … Frosh overlapping Upperclassmen is my biggest concern.   Just think how many players this year Frosh have been subverted !!!   It is a by-product of the “1-&-Done” recruit culture, and I find it unsettling …

 

  1. Has the “1-&-Done” attitude backfired on Coach K ???

Maybe … When Giles, Tatum, & Bolden were sidelined (still questionably) I saw 3 kids who were not always engaged in the game … not you normal Duke player !!!   This is what led people to wonder why they sat for so long. Could injuries have been just an excuse for the possibility that they were not cutting it in the classroom ??? Remember, in the real world, it’s not what it is, it’s what you call it !!!

Then there were the rumours that they all believed they’d be drafted with little or no play … It was reminiscent of the whole Kyrie Irving debacle where the team that had reformulated their chemistry when he went down, after only a handful of games, to become winners.   Then he forced himself into the Big Dance games and the team suffered, just so he’d improve his Draft Stock. 

 

  1. Should Harry Giles be Red-Shirted ???

Yes, Yes, 1000 Times, Yes !!!  He is not in game shape as Duke enters the ACC Conference Season.   He is not needed !!!   His presence would subvert a player who has been playing and developing with the team during the season thus far.  That is simply wrong !!!   Why force a kid into the line-up just because he came to Duke has a highly ranked player ???   Notice the past tense of my query …

 

  1. What in the world is wrong with Grayson Allen ???

I haven’t a clue … I hope the powers-that-be get him some psychological help as I wonder if he “learned” that antic during his younger playground days.   Let’s face it, Grayson is an uber over-achiever for his size, so such a playground antic might have been something from yesteryear that is rearing it’s ugly head.

Let’s think of it this way … What if Duke were to make it to the Final Four and he were thrown out of a game and the next game for tripping an opponent ???

 

  1. With so much talent, will Coach K be forced to play deeper than his usual 6-7-8 guys ???

Dear Lord, since we know that Coach K is a man of deep and abiding faith, and that includes prayer, couldn’t you find a way to impress on him that he has too much talent not to play them all ???   It’s worked for many, many other winning coaches, I count at least 9, or more, who could contribute !!!

 

  1. Who will be pivotal players this year ???

Easily, Amile has proven to have returned to where he left off before his injury, and there’s no reason to think he will not continue …

Luke has come back to Duke a more mature player.  He can shoot and score much more consistently from all over the Court.  He Rebounds and plays much better Defense.  I noticed that at least one national CBB reporter has picked him as having the potential to be ACC Player of the Year, and I agree !!!

I like what I have seen of Frank Jackson.  He is a very insightful player and can lead this team aptly … I also like what I’ve seen of young Mr. Tatum in the short time since his return.  He reminds me of a Magic Johnson type.

Often disregarded in the overall fray is Matt Jones, whom I like to call “Cazzie” because he reminds me of Cazzie Russell of the glory days of the 70’s Knicks.   Matt is a 4 year Senior who is a defensive stalwart and well-seasoned clutch shooter.   He also shares over 400 “Ironman” minutes with Luke and Amile.

 

  1. Who has not lived up to their Press clippings???

I’ve been wondering why Marques Bolden has not returned to the form I was so impressed with early on … I loved that he played so toughly under the basket, boxing out, angling for rebounding position, protecting the Baseline, and playing smart defense.   He was surely on his way to doing things that past Duke “bigs” did not or could not. I only hope he can return to that style of play … Duke needs it !!!

That’s because Chase Jeter continues to disappoint.  In 13 game appearances, 190 minutes thus far, he has blocked 13 Shots, grabbed 26 Rebounds and scored 40 Points, but he has been responsible for 14 Turnovers and 25 Personal Fouls.   I think I’d rather see others get more floor time since he is essentially a net zero !!!

 

  1. Who are the unsung heroes of his year’s team ???

The pre-conference season doesn’t tell us much, especially since there have only been a few really competitive games, and that includes the loss to Kansas in an event that ought to be contested this week.   I think Duke is so deep that a true unsung like Grayson Allen against Wisconsin for the last National Championship has yet to be seen, but I’m positive there will be one if he gets to play some …

 

  1. Is getting a Duke education enough for the guys who were recruited, but never given a chance to play ???

I’m going to quote CBB Hall of Famer Dick Vitale when he observed that if a guy is good enough to be recruited and given a uniform, then he’s worthy of being given the chance to play.   Unfortunately, Duke has more and more guys like this.   Antonio is back not playing again this year. Newbies Jack White, Javin DeLaurier will probably join Antonio as well as Justin Robinson …

Last season I asked why Sean Obi wasn’t playing and we found out that in the off-season, he had knee surgery by people outside of the Duke Orthopaedics Department.   As someone who knows how a life can be altered by such procedures, I must wonder if he is applying himself in class.

To answer the question, I must guess that a free Duke education might be worth not playing as much as one might wish … I just hope they have good Majors and get good Grades !!!

 

  1. What must “The Admiral” be thinking as he attends yet more games while his son pulls splinters ???

I have tonnes and tonnes of admiration for “The Admiral” but I must wonder what it must be like to see his son make the sacrifice after sacrifice and not be given any opportunity to prove himself.   It has to be daunting for Justin, especially living in the shadow of his Dad, who was one of the all time greats.

 

My Take … 

Duke could and should be the pre-conference season favourite to win the ACC, but they might be the most discombobulated bunch in the conference.  Long time Duke fans expect to see a surely formulated set of starters and those 6-7-8 players.

When one considers the “problem” with Grayson, we have to wonder who will step up only to be bounced back to the Bench once he returns, and his return is, as our British friends say, a “dead cert” !!! 

In my opinion, I do not like that Duke is still unsettled.  Frenetic is not the way Coach K plays, nor does he normally use his whole team. Somewhere we all expect some semblance of order … and that is still a question mark.

 

Questions for the future …

Right now, Amile, Luke, Matt, and Grayson are the 4 cornerstones of the team, but there is too much potential in the balance of the team. So who “sits” to allow that potential to play ??? 

I do not think this is a situation Coach K has ever encountered at Duke, but he certainly has with the Olympic Teams he has coached.   So, I’m happy to lean heavily on his wisdom, experience, and creativity.  I’m more concerned with seeing this team compete for Coach K’s next National Championship than I am seeing who gets into the NBA.

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SDBB: Duke vs Kansas – The Buzzer Beater Wasn’t The Cause of The Loss

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On Tuesday night Duke took on Kansas in the State Farm Championship Classic and lost via a Buzzer Beater. Tonight, Bill Wheeler joins me, Bermuda Bob, to dissect why the Buzzer Beater was not what caused the loss.

How Good is Duke ???

Both Bill and I agree that rankings are meaningless at this point in the year, and that no one can really effectively judge just how good Duke can be with 3 Frosh and Sean Obi on the Bench recuperating !!!

What About Grayson Allen ???

Bill points out that Grayson seems out of sync and is pressing too hard. I think the Kansas game looked like “Déjà vu all over again” as it reminds me of last year.

Who’s the Point Guard ???

Bill thinks that Duke must establish their Point Guard from Luke, Matt, or Frank Jackson. Bill points out that it could take Giles until conference season to be in optimum shape.

I think it MUST be Frank. Luke works hard to get his shot from anywhere, but he also dishes Assists and Rebounds. He has 5 of each in this game while scoring 22 Points. He continues to become a better player on both sides of the Court. Matt does not handle the ball well and his passing skills are still questionable. Frank is a good blend of scoring and ball movement. If he were given the spot as his, his Assists would surely increase.

TurnOvers & Rebounds …

Duke had 16 to 14 for Kansas. Amile commits 7 of them in a so-so performance while Fouling Out, while those 5 Rebounds by Luke led Duke. Kansas out-rebounded Duke 38-29. Bill points out that Kansas was the smaller team.

Bench Play …

Once again, Coach K played only 6 guys, and Javin DeLaurier played just one minute. He seems to continue to refuse to play anyone else. Lord only knows what he had/has in mind if Duke were at full strength …

Both Bill and I agree that this seems to be foolhardy, considering the talent he has on the Bench who are not being given the opportunity to contribute. Now, both of us readily admit that neither of us have the career stats that he has, but it is surely hard to reconcile in our minds.

Looking Forward …

On Saturday, Duke takes on Penn State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Foxwoods in Connecticut. It’s yet another irony along my walk with Duke as a fervent fan. I now live in Penn State country. The people here are gracious enough to not give me a hard time about my shades of Duke Blue.

On Sunday Duke takes on either Cincinnati or Rhode Island based on the results of the first games.

This is a realistic event compared to the State Farm Classic. There has been no word on the status of any of the injured Frosh … Considering that Coach K is so focused on starting his 5 upperclassmen plus Frank Jackson, I don’t think there is much new to see unless Coach is willing to get his Bench on the Floor for some minutes. After all, in that National Championship game, Grayson Allen was an untold player !!! Neither of these games will be pivotal in March, so playing the Bench makes a whole lot of sense !!!

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SDBB: NOW the Real Season Begins for a Duke Team at Less Than True Strength …

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The leaves have revealed their lovely colours, and are now brown on the ground, waiting to be collected.  Shorts have been relegated to the gym. Heavier clothes are the standard when out enjoying the crisp cooler air outside.  For us, it is a challenge to see how long we can go before activating the Heat in our home.  Last, and certainly not least, after the seemingly endless campaign season, our Nation has chosen a very new and different President to cure the ills of our Country.

If you’re like me, NOW is when the college basketball season really begins.

Duke has had their standard 2 exhibitions, followed by 2 games against teams they were expected to prevail against.  Tonight, at 9:30PM (E) the season REALLY begins as Duke meets Kansas … well, at least that’s what the so-called pundits tell us !!!

This early-on game is not a favourite of mine.  It presumes that teams are at their strongest, when the players have barely broken in their uniforms, nor have the fans learned all the new additions to the squad.  Such a contest seems more like something of an Elite 8 match-up, or a Final Four game.

I think it ought to be the last game of the non-conference schedule when the players have had a bit of time to mature … maybe on New Year’s Eve.   There is no reason to hold an elite event ahead of the Big 10-ACC Challenge, which is much more representative of the prowess of all the teams, not just 4 hand-picked programmes !!!

Obviously, no one is going to listen to me, so let’s examine where Duke is going into this game.

Duke is battered. 4 players are in street clothes.

  • One player is a concern down the road as his is a recurring injury.
  • The other 2 guys, may again be the result those damned Nike sneakers.
  • Sean Obi is again working more on his sartorial speldour after a report of his having work on both knees done this past summer.
  • Coach K has admitted that they may need to look at the relative vociferousness of their practices.

In the 2 games this weekend, without some 3 presumptive Frosh contributors, Duke looked to what I will call the “4 Horseman of Durham” of Amile, Grayson. Luke and Matt … Being adding to these guys has been Frank Jackson, who has been named ACC Frosh of the Week, after a couple excellent performances !!!

Now we all know that Coach K likes a 7-8 player rotation, so let’s add Chase Jeter, Javin DeLaurier, and Antonio Vraknovic.

  •  Jeter has been a de facto Starter with Borden, the guy who supplanted him on the depth chart, going down … He has gotten some serious opportunities to show off what he worked on over the summer.  In the first 3 games, he did very well, but in the last game he unfortunately returned to his performance of last year, being able to only play 22 minutes because of Foul Trouble.
  • DeLaurier is an impressive player, who, by his own words expects to learn plenty by being surrounded by so many impressionable players … He has a treasure trove of talent already, so the sky’s the limit for him !!!
  •  Antonio got to play 19 minutes when Chase needed it against Marist and logged 10 Rebounds, but was only given 5 minutes in the Grand Canon game even with Jeter struggling …

For the immediate future, we must be guided to Coach K’s words recently about his trio of injured Frosh: “We’re just going to shut those guys down for a while.” 

That means that nothing that happens in the Kansas game will do anything more than to solidify the core of this Duke team.  Personally, I’m not concerned, as the schedule for the 2 weeks before meeting Michigan State in the Big 10-ACC Challenge, is not very consequential.  Nothing that happens until State will matter come March Madness !!!

So, right now, we really don’t have a clear impression of who Duke is, other than the idea that they are fortunately deep, so they will take longer to develop into who they really are.  Let’s hope this doesn’t last into the conference season.

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SDBB: An Inside Look at the “Countdown to Craziness” Weekend

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Cameron Crazies and fans of the Duke Blue Devils cheer during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Thanks to a friend of Simply Duke Basketball, we have a rare opportunity to see what this year’s “Countdown to Craziness” weekend was like …

Bill Wheeler, a Fuqua School of Business graduate, and his lovely wife, Marcy made a weekend of the event. We thank them for this very special insight …

Around 9PM, Friday night, my wife and I drove to the Washington Duke Inn and ate at the Bull Durham bar.  As we approached the turn in to the hotel, we could not help notice a new multilevel parking deck near completion on Cameron Boulevard.   The bar was filled, yet we found two barstools in the corner.  We talked to a Waitress and Manager about the number of patrons.  They thought there was a Lacrosse reunion, and that “Countdown to Craziness” brought in the late evening patrons.

As we left the bar, we could not help notice 2 towering men standing in the foyer. It was Jeff Capel and Nate James.  I got my wife to follow me a few feet down the hallway, and told her who the men were.   Of course, I wanted to ask them some questions, but I realized they need their own relaxation, so we drove back to our off campus motel.

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Saturday morning, we visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and at Marcy’s suggestion, we took in an afternoon horseback trail ride in Hillsboro.

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As we drove onto campus and turned right on Towerview Drive next to the Sanford School, we could not help but notice another new building with open glass, the Health and Wellness Center.  We parked and walked towards “K’ville” around 4:30 pm.  “K’ville” was alive with inflatable bouncing machines, a DJ, face painting and a gathering of Cameron Crazies.

We stopped to talk to a Security Guard and she gave us a brief tour, describing changes to the outside of Cameron.  As we waited to enter the front of Cameron, one fan voiced their displeasure of the new Cameron look. Yes, I agree the nostalgia is gone.

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The wooden arches just below the stone portico are gone and wooden doors are now enclosed.  Just after the second set of doors is a separate set of stairs to enter a new Iron Duke’s Champions Club.  My finances left me short to contribute the minimum annual for that club.

As we entered Cameron, some fans next to us said they did not like the new look of the Cameron entrance.  Yes, we agreed …

As we walked through the doors, security gates and staff greeted each fan.  It reminded me of entering a local Court building, yet with today’s threats we had some sense of comfort.

Congrats to the Duke staff for this improvement !!!

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Duke student and Chinese yo-yo specialist Felix Kung performs during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

The pre-team entertainment ranged from Felix Kung “The Yo-Yo Guy”, who is actually a Duke student … 30 seconds to make 4 baskets for $10K … Pizza box throws from the 4 corners of the gym floor, to the JC Devils doing a modern dance, etc.

As the Duke Navy ROTC entered the gym with the American flag, all the Duke “A- Cappella” singers gathered on the opposite side of Mid-Court and did a great job of singing the National Anthem.  It was a special moment with the blue horn lights shining and all the fans standing.  Thank goodness I didn’t see any “Kolin ‘dis-respectfuls.'” !!!

The gym floor was used as a projector screen for video and laser introductions of the team and players.  This was similar to last year and each player got great appreciation from the crowd.

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From there the scrimmage felt a little anti-climatic.  The audio sound may have been changed for the player intros and it was not readjusted making it difficult to hear announcements for the rest of the evening.

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Chase Jeter #2 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball against Marques Bolden #20 during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

The Blue and White teams played 2 – 10 minute periods.  Freshman Jayson Tatum showed great slashing and scoring ability.  To my surprise, Chase Jeter seemed to have the upper hand in guarding Marques Bolden for 15 of the 20 minutes.  Amile Jefferson appeared to be hungry and scrapped for every loose ball.  At one moment towards the end of the scrimmage, a hush came over the entire crowd as Grayson Allen ended up spread-eagle to block a pass and collided with Amile’s legs near mid court sideline.  Fortunately, Amile was able to walk off without injury.

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Sean Obi and Harry Giles did not make it to the floor   We know about Harry’s continued knee problems, and later discovered that Obi had had knee surgery this summer.

In past years, the star player for either the Blue or White would have been swapped to the other team for the 2nd Period.  That was not done this year, leaving this fan with the need to see more games before determining the real caliber of this 2016-17 basketball team.

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Bill Wheeler has a wonderful story about his connection to Duke Basketball.  

Look forward to our Bio on him sometime soon !!!

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Thanks for joining us for this very special report …

Please, as always, feel free to comment on our thoughts, either here, or at out Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

SDBB: 2016-17 Player Profiles – #21, Amile Jefferson

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Tonight, we complete our annual Player’s Profile marathon until we Countdown to Craziness that will profile each and every Duke player on the roster…

So here is Bermuda Bob’s Profile of #21 Amile Jefferson … 

Everyone will remember that Amile did not commit to Duke until the middle of May, 2012. He was the 21st overall recruit and was also being actively recruited by North Carolina State. Their loss, big time !!!

Last year, Ro summed up Amile best in his pre-season Player Profile:

“Even though he was relegated to a role player, he remained ready to take advantage of any opportunities, no matter how limited they became as the season waned.”

He then continued … 

“There is a lot of talk these days of Grayson Allen’s part in the comeback in the Championship Game, but there would have been no victory if not for Jefferson’s defense on Player of the Year, Frank Kaminsky, in the closing moments of the game.

That was the cap on a season in which Jefferson did whatever it took for the sake of the team. “

So it was no surprise that last season got off to an incredible start for Amile. When he went down to yet another Duke foot injury in Nike shoes, he averaged a “Double-Double” in his 9 games. There was no replacing that dominant of a player.

Looking back over his career …

  • In the 2012-13 season, right from the start, Amile contributed in 32 of 36 games. He was 5th in Rebounds and 3rd in Blocked Shots. He was considered to be #7 on the team Depth Chart.
  • In the 2013-14 season, Amile played in all 35 games. While only averaging 22.7 minutes per game, he was 2nd on the team in Rebounding and Blocked Shots. The true impact of Amile as a leader had begun to show, and it was nice to watch.
  • In the 2014-15 National Championship season, Amile, then a Junior, was named Captain with Senior Quinn Cook. Both had stellar seasons as leaders along with the 4 Headliner Frosh. Playing in all 39 games, Amile averaged only 21.3 minutes per game. He was the 3rd best Rebounder and Shot Blocker for the team.

Amile’s pre-season prediction, with his contributions, came true:

“ … our guys have been preparing this summer to do something special.”

Amile was granted a medical Red-Shirt for his Senior season last year after playing in only 9 games, being injured in Practice.

This year he returns after putting on 9 lbs of obvious muscle. His chiseled Profile Picture showing it off.

I’m a statistics guy who believes that it is the most faire way of evaluating players theses days, especially in Amile’s case, where he, like Matt Jones, has played with and behind some Headliners.  So, I’ll leave off with his most important statistic that Amile possesses …

Amile is the only player in Duke history to be named Academic All-American every year since enrollment !!!

Let’s hope for a healthy and prosperous season for Amile !!!

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Watch for our Coach K next …

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

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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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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

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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 …

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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