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: 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

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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Thanks for the read !!!

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

@SimpleDukeBB

SDBB – After Sleeping On It – The Wake Forest Game

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

Saturday’s Wake Forest game was not broadcast everywhere, so Bermuda Bob didn’t get to see it, but Bill Wheeler got lucky and was able to see the game … After Sleeping on It, Bill gives us his impressions, while Bermuda Bob comments on what he gleaned just from the Box Score …

Bill:    Frank Jackson is already a good Point Guard, but he has a tendency to favour passing to the right side of the Arc.  Sooner or later, teams are going to pick up on this.

Bermuda Bob:     Once again, Frank was subverted to Bench.  He HAS to be the Point Guard for this team to establish some sort of continuity …

Bill:     Wake was disrupted by Duke breaking out of their traditional man-to-man defense in favour of a Zone and trapping.

Bermuda Bob:   While is was disrupting, it still didn’t cause double digit TurnOvers, but it apparently DID disrupt their shooting outside the Arc as Wake shot 6 of 20 for only 30% !!!

Bill:     Antonio got 6 minutes and made the most of them, nailing a dunk and hoofing it to the other side of the Floor for a stop.  I’m glad he was praised by Coach Capel.  This is not the first time this year or last year when Antonio has done something like this …

Bermuda Bob:     We have both been begging for more Floor time for Antonio.  When you consider that Giles played 18 minutes and did little more than contribute 6 Points, 4 Fouls, and a TurnOver with Antonio, it proves my idea of RedShirting him would not have hurt this team …

Bill:
Tatum took several untimely shots.  A couple were just bad shots he took, hoping they’d go in to boost his stature, not necessarily the team’s.  Once he fouled out, Duke became a different team.

Bermuda Bob:      I hate to say things like this, but I told you so … Tatum stole 21 minuted from another player who would be more productive and less harmful.

Bill:     Grayson Allen has become a lightening rod for opposing teams.  I think he needs to be benched.  He got knocked down once on a drive to the basket and immediately began to mouth off, which drew a “T” !!!

Bermuda Bob:    I don’t get it.  I love a player with verve, but he might not have tripped anyone for a while, but his overly-fiery conduct is something to be concerned about.  I think he needs a shrink PLUS the threat of being benched !!!   As I’ve said before, what if he does something down the road in the Big Dance that adversely affects the team, and/or even the outcome of a game ???

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Bermuda Bob:     I watched the Virginia/Villanova game yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it because it was played at a fast pace where both teams excelled on both sides of the Court …  Last week I also saw ‘Nova beaten by WoJo’s Marquette’s team.  Duke would get slaughtered by all 3 of these teams !!!

Duke plays Notre Dame tonight, a very good team with discipline, talent, and huge scoring abilities.  Duke NEEDS to win this game, or winning against Wake means nothing !!!

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Thanks for the Read …

Weigh in on the topics we’ve discussed here, or anything else you’d like to …  You can dohere here, or at our Twitter site: 

@SimplyDukeBB

 

 

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: After 4 Significant Losses, What’s Wrong at Duke ???

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Duke has lost games they were never in contention to win. Tonight, Bermuda Bob offers some insight and maybe even a few constructive ideas …

Amile:

The best leader on this team has once again been hurt. Another wonderful season has been interrupted.  While I have always suspected that the Nike shoes have some culpability.

There does not seem to be another leader stepping up to replace his voice and performance.  Duke does not have anyone to fill his position. Chase Jeter is having another milquetoast season.  Harry Giles should have been Red Shirted and proves my point each time out. Marquis Bolden has not returned to the player I saw early on.  Javin DeLaurier has gotten a few minutes here and there, but not enough to prove his mettle. Antonio Vrankovic, Jack White and Justin Robinson languish on the Bench, not even being given a chance to contribute.

Grayson:

If you were to listen or read some of the things Grayson has been accused of, you’d think Grayson was the reincarnation of Rasputin.  In reality, he is a guy who over-hustles, over-competes, and over-exerts.  I won’t postulate on his predilection to trip opponents.  I would suggest that it has it’s roots in playground basketball and could be “fixed” with responsible psycho-analysis, but that should have been done “like yesterday” …

Unfortunately, now, anytime that Grayson gets involved in something overly physical, he will be branded the aggressor.  I’d petition the Refs to consider that they are there to call the game fairly, not in consideration of his press clippings.

Lastly, I think that the experiment of Grayson being at the Point is not working.  It does not allow his best side to shine thru. It also subverts him to Jayson Tatum’s selfishness.

Luke

Luke showed plenty of promise last year, but he was inconsistent.  This year, he returned looking more like he had spent the summer with JJ Reddick.  Many portals opined on if Luke might become a contender for the ACC MVP.  He was consistent from anywhere on the floor, and he played both sides of the Court.  Then Jayson Tatum returned to the line-up, and Luke’s performance slacked off.  Oh, he still put up nice numbers, but nice doesn’t win games.

Matt

I nicknamed Matt “Cazzie” after Cazzie Russell of the Knicks I grew up with because his shot follow-thru resembled him so much.  Matt is now the only Captain and Senior on the Floor.  He needs to be more like Amile. He needs to lead.

Matt has become more like Tyler Thornton on Defense, and has lost a bit of his touch from outside the Arc, hitting only 34%. His 41% from the Floor is not up to snuff either.  He has played almost as many minutes as Luke, and leads the team in Steals.  His offense and leadership is coveted.

The Frosh:

If Coach K was looking for another triumvirate like he enjoyed in 2014-15, then he was kidding himself.  Those guys WANTED to play together, and flourished when they were all at full strength.  These Frosh – Tatum, Giles, & Bolden – seem to be more of the “Me-My-and-Iverson” mindset.

Tatum is often out of sync and downright selfish, making me recall Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers, who was a ball hog, hence the nickname.   Want proof ???   In the losses against FSU & Louisville, he logged in ZERO Assists, and only 2 Assists in the loss to VaTech !!!  Tatum also shares the same predisposition to histrionically complain when things don’t go his way.  He is a very talented player, but ought to be playing for a team that needs a single star, not a team who has historically played “team” basketball.

Giles has not returned to any semblance of his reputation and should have never been played in favour of a Red Shirt.   He seems to be getting minutes on his supposed reputation from when his knees allowed him to play.  I recall someone asking me how a “one-and-done” player could be given a Red Shirt. Giles playing this year is as ridiculous as that question. Giles has said that:  “It takes time, especially with a knee. It’s a long process. It getting used to the physicality, the speed of the game.”  By his own words, he makes me point.  He has no business playing this year, so he should have been Red Shirted from the start.  After all, the kid has not played at any level in over 2 years.  Why does Coach K feel it incumbent to use a player, who, by his own admission, honestly agrees with me ???

Bolden is a huge question mark for me.  I originally was so very pleased with what I saw in him.  He boxed-out, he denied the Base Line, and he played both sides of the Court.  Since the mysterious cramping he awoke with, he has been nothing of the player I saw and was so impressed with.  Since nobody in the Press Corps has the guts to ask for an explanation, I doubt if we will ever know what REALLY happened.

Frank Jackson seems to be trying hard and consistently improving, but his time has been cut due to the return of Jayson Tatum.  Frank ought to be given the Point like Derryck Thompson was last year, but then Thornton left because he realized Coach K had recruited someone behind him, and bolted like 3 others in the same situation ahead of him.

The other Frosh – Javin DeLaurier and Jack White have not yet seen any substantive minutes as they join upperclassmen Antonio Vrankovic, Justin Robinson, and Sean Obi on the Bench.

In Conclusion

I have always questioned why Coach K recruits so much potential, but never uses it.  I know he needs competent players for practice time, but when he was recruiting them, did he make the fact known to them that they weren’t going to see game time minutes ???   Damn, I’d love to know the answer to that question !!!

Unfortunately, Coach K, and now Coach Capel favour players who struggle each time out and allows others to languish on the Bench.  He subverts upperclassmen to Frosh, who, this year, do not have the maturity to win.

Coach Capel unfortunately claimed that: “They’re still not up to speed. When you miss that much time, especially Harry.  I’m not sure he’ll be up to speed for us this year and so it’s just trying to get him better each day.  Same thing for Bolden. Bolden was out for a while and so look, we need those guys. We need everyone on our team to play their butts off every day.”  I could not agree more, Coach, so why aren’t you playing the ENTIRE team … you know, those other guys who have not been injured, but you recruited to wear the Duke uniform ???

If you read my previous article, you get my biggest complaint.  The Duke Basketball that I formerly knew did not put so much credence in unproven players.  This year proves categorically that waiting, hoping, and wishing for the Frosh to mature into the same caliber as Duke has enjoyed in the past is a failed mindset.

Sure, Coach K looks great to future recruits when they see Frosh playing, but if they are not winning … causing losses … subverting upperclassmen, and spurning the development of upperclassmen into tomorrow’s leaders, then you’ve reduced a storied programme into nothing more than a crap-shoot in a casino.

I have never liked the “one-and-done” … and never will. I find it immoral, unethical, and unfaire to any kid recruited who also expected to fully matriculate.   This year’s crop of supposed super-stars got injured and have been ineffective. Jayson Tatum, in particular, seems to be playing only to prove his NBA worth, while Harry Giles can’t fill Amile’s shoes. Marquis Bolden remains a question mark. Frank Jackson will stay and develop into a fine player if given the chance, and does not have to look over his shoulder.

In the re-make of the movie classic “Oceans Eleven” the main characters spend an appreciable amount of time filling slots of members of the team to fulfill each need.  One has to wonder if Coach K and Coach Capel do the same thing, or if they simply go after high profile players to boost their team on paper, hoping for the chemistry the 2014-2015 and other previous National Champions had.

Unfortunately, the game is played, by dedicated players, on a Court of wood over half a year.

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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: 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: 2016-17 Player Profiles – #30 Antonio Vrankovic

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Tonight, we continue 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 #30, Antonio Vrankovic …

 Last year, in Ro’s evaluation of Antonio, he noted that Vrankovic had all the makings of a hidden gem. He is an unheralded Three Star recruit who is listed at seven feet tall. In his own words , “I am a low post scorer who sets great screens.”

Right now, at this point in time, at the beginning of another season, we don’t have the foggiest idea of his potential or prowess because he was practically never used last season. 14 minutes in total !!!

We went to bat for he and Sean Obi last season, by asking Duke’s 2 “Beat Reporters” why they did not ask appropriate questions like I did in my article where: I wondered why Coach K was claiming he has a “short Bench” when he had two (2) “Bigs” sitting, perfecting their splinter pulling techniques.” 

The Response came from Mr. Wiseman on Twitter, whereupon he claimed that the Coaching Staff’s opinion was that they were not ready for Duke’s level of competition.  My logic, which was often the same lament as Dick Vitale, was that if a player earned a uniform, he also had the de facto right to contribute to his team !!!

As you will recall, Duke finished 25-11 overall and 11-7 in conference, for a 5th place tie, ranking #19 overall.   Amile was out for the season. Chase Jeter was a huge disappointment. Coach K shook up his Starters, sometimes playing 4 Guards, even after Derryck Thornton left in disgust at midseason.

Hindsight being 20-20 vision, I still have to ask why these guys didn’t get more playing time when they were most certainly needed ???

I never got a satisfactory answer. 

Outlook for This Year

From what little tape there is of him since arriving at Duke, he seems pretty agile for a big man, and the more he can push his teammates the better Duke will be overall. With Sean Obi, and a few impressive “bigs” coming in behind them, this might be seen as overkill, especially considering Coach K loves a short bench. Our only hope is that Antonio be given a faire chance to contribute, and that doesn’t mean just on the Practice Squad !!!

We wish Antonio all the best, and look forward to seeing him get some playing time !!!

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