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

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

– Bermuda Bob

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

IN CONCLUSION …

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

 

LASTLY …

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

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

 @SimplyDukeBB

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

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A PS to Bill Wheeler,

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

– Bermuda Bob

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

By Bill Wheeler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Duke !!!

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Thanks for the read !!!

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Antonio Vrankovic

By Bill Wheeler

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

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

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

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

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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: 

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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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Thanks for the read …

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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: 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