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

By Bill Wheeler

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

Nolan Smith, Special Assistant to Coach K

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

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

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Jon Scheyer, Assistant Coach

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

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

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

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Nate James, Assistant Coach

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

Nate and his wife Bobbi have a son Nathanial.

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Thanks for the read !!!

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

@SimpleDukeBB

 

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

By Bill Wheeler

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

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

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

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

He was recruited by Coach Jon Scheyer.

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

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

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

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

@SimpleDukeBB

SDBB: Point/CounterPoint – 7 Questions After 7 ACC Games – Part #1

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After 7 ACC games that leaves Duke with a paltry 3-4 ACC Record, instead of asking, in the words of the great Vince Lombardi: 

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

We’d like 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 first 3 …

Point #1:        

Let’s start with an easy one … What is the reasoning of putting Duke Blue Devils in Black, or even Gray uniforms ??? 

Doesn’t mean that Duke has sold their soul to Nike ???

Bill:       

Let’s follow the money to answer this question.  The apparel companies spent a staggering $1.1 billion on college athletics during 2014-15 season.  One source ranks Michigan with the # 1 apparel deal with Nike at $10 million per year or $169 million over 15 years.  Nike will supply all 31 of the Wolverine athletic programs with uniforms.  Notre Dame is ranked #2 with a $9 million contract with Adidas.  The average contract per ACC conference team is estimated to be around $ 2.5 million.

Since Duke is a private institution, the dollars Nike is compensating Duke are not readily available.  I emailed Nike investor relations and have not received a received a response as of this writing.

The following statements from Duke Sports Information were found in 2 articles:

“Duke has been exclusive to Nike since 1992.”

In 2008, Duke and Nike agreed to:

  1.    Provide cash compensation annually to Duke Athletics
  2.    Annual funding to local charities of Duke’s choice
  3.    Each year one Duke student-athlete will receive paid internship at Nike headquarters

In 2015, Nike and Duke agreed to a 12-year extension.  At this point, I think Duke sold their soul.  A Portland Business Journal reporter, Matthew Kish, outlines the contracts of the 2015 Final Four teams.  The following is a link to his article:

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/threads_and_laces/2015/04/apparel-contracts-final-four-teams-nike-adidas.html

Do you blame an athletic department for signing these lucrative agreements ???  No, however, good business practices such as cyclical review of contracts are prudent.  At some point you would expect this business model have a downturn.

Bermuda Bob:        

You’ve quoted some powerful statistics there, which are mind-boggling in and of themselves.  My problem with any of the uniforms designed by the companies is they have totally and utterly disregarded the schools who have a colour named in their mascot’s name.

Duke is the “Blue Devils” are named for a very famous French fight force, yet they list only Blue and White as their official colours. They have worn Black as an “alternate” … Alternate for what ??? Is there something wrong with just your official colours ???  I don’t think so !!!

Another example is Rutgers, who are the “Scarlet Knights” and their official colour is just Scarlet, yet they have worn any number of colours like Black, Silver, White, etc.

Then there’s Miami, who are the “Hurricanes” and their official colours are Green, Orange, & White, but they wore Black uniforms against Duke this year.

I could go on and on, and bored you to death, but the point I’m driving at is that uniform companies design additional uniform colours to pad their bottom line.  My question is why the schools often acquiesce to a Black uniform when it has nothing to do with they colours ???  Black is the absence of colour to the human eye.  It doesn’t make you look tougher. As a matter of fact is makes many guys look diminutive.   Coach Jon Scheyer, not a Charles Atlas-type, looked pale and spindly when he wore a Black Duke uniform. Was that what Duke wanted to portray ???  I hardly think so !!!

I’ll also note that some programmes, like North Carolina, whose “Carolina Blue” is the best selling colour of any college, never allows alternate colours unless they are for a particular supported charity.   My Duke Royal Blue hat is off to you !!!

 

Point #2:

Does Duke’s problems with Nike shoes, that continues into this year, mean Nike is an inferior product ???

Bill:                 

When you reference Duke foot problems, the first player I think about is Kyrie Irving’s toe in 2011.  In reality, the number of Duke injuries is well documented in Steve Fortosis’s 2013 article. He lists the all the players starting with Bobby Hurley in February 1992 to MP3, 7 of these were breaks to the 5th metatarsal bone, see link below:

http://dukereport.com/duke-basketball/duke-basketball-foot-injuries-sfortosis/

Last season, Duke lost Amile Jefferson and this year Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum to ankle or foot injuries.

Duke is not the only school affected by foot problems. UNC has had some recent foot injuries.   Who is their contract with ???  Nike.

Nike is not alone in complaints, ESPN blamed Adidas for Bull’s star Derrick Rose problems.

To me the number of injuries from a shoe product is more than a blip on a chart.  I question the quality of Nike’s product and I propose an in depth review by doctors, athletes, weekend warriors and schools with an emphasis on the athlete not the dollars.

Bermuda Bob:        

My daughter is a marathon runner and cross-trainer.  She has a certain brand of shoe she wears and simply will not wear anything else. She has tried other shoes, and profoundly dislikes Nike because of their fit and foot bed.

So, with that in mind, I have always wondered:

What would happen if a player simply refused to wear a team’s sponsor’s shoe ???

Would he be forced to wear a shoe he does not wish to, especially if he had good reason ???

I would sincerely hope not, but something tells me I’m wrong, and that’s contrary to the benefit of the player !!!

Your comments about the propensity for the same injury speaks volumes, but unfortunately, I fear such statistics would fall on deaf ears, and that’s a shame that a player’s welfare might be subverted to a sponsorship contract.

Point #3:        

Duke has had a long history of players looking like All American kids.  This year’s team picture is with the guys showing their style, but in the same suits.  What’s with Tatum’s engraved thunderbolt, or whatever it’s supposed to be ???

Bill:

Are we such old fogies, that we can’t accept a little individualism in team sports ???  In 1970s, “Pistol Pete” Maravich rang up the scoreboard and showed off fantastic passing skills along with his mop hairstyle.  Several years ago, Gonzaga’s Morrison wore bangs that looked as if they would block his vision, yet he was a prolific scorer.  For football fans, who can forget Pittsburg Steeler’s hard nosed safety Troy Polamalu.  His dreadlocks that drew all kinds of comments and ultimately a change to the rule book.  If you aren’t a sports fanatic, then you may have seen TV Simpsons and their creative hairdos.

If you look at Duke roster pictures dating back to 2007, players show clean cut hairstyles with some players sporting a little facial hair.  Then came 2010, Zoubek may have set the tone for future Duke player individualism with his beard.  Duke’s most recent National Championship team stood out from all prior teams – Winslow, Okafor and Cook each had unique hair styles.

Other basketball coaches allow their players to wear headbands. I don’t like the individual statements today’s players try to make, but I’ll leave it up to the coaches.

Bermuda Bob:        

Ah yes, I plead guilty as charged … I am an old foggy !!!   I routinely wear coordinated colours, and am a fussbudget when it comes to my hair, beard, and handlebar mustache.  I’m somewhat unique with that look, just like the kids are these days.  Lastly, I flatly refuse to wear logos … After all, they are not paying me to advertise for them.

Marketing Majors like myself often argue which was the greatest marketing ploy ever.  Many believe it was when Nike made it “cool” to wear their logo emblazoned across the chest.  Thus, they had people paying to wear their logo and advertising for Nike !!!

Back to Duke, I think Matt “Cazzie” Jones looks great in his beard, but if you can’t grow a proper one, you ought to keep your razor.  Straggle or stubble is not a beard, and that razor ought to be employed.   I don’t mind new and different hairstyles as long as they do not impact performance.  After all, our generation saw some pretty great looking afro’s.  Who will ever forget Dr. J’s !!!

I can remember when Baseball players with extra long locks in the 70’s were considered to have an “abnormal extension” in the event that a pitch hit those locks. No base awarded !!!

I understand that no coach will allow a headband unless it is supplied by the school’s sponsor and emblazoned with their logo.  Some guys turn it around and I like that, but there’s only one way to wear a headband – like Wilt Chamberlain did, functionally, and not as a uniform accouterment !!!

Lastly, I need to address Jason Tatum’s “thunderbolt” engraved into the side of his head hair.  As my Granddaughter would say: “Ah, No !!!”   No previous Duke player ever felt the need to make himself stand out this way, and no Duke player ought to do it.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say later in the season …

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Thanks for reading !!!

We invite you to comment here, or on our Twitter site: 

@Simply Duke BB

Look for Points #4 thru #7 tomorrow !!!

Simply Duke Basketball: 100 Days Ago … A Retrospective of the 5th Duke National Championship Season

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Just about every organization is evaluated for their 1st 100 Days, but we’re going switch things up a bit.  

It has been 100 days since Duke won it’s 5th National Championship.

So, lets now join Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob look back after

“Sleeping on it for 100 Days” 

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Query #1

Which championship run was more dominant, 2010 or 2015 ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think that they were very different teams.  The 2010 team was dominated by Seniors, who were more seasoned, more versatile, and, I believe, played a tougher schedule to the Finals.  They won the ACC, led in a bunch of stats, won the ACC Tournament, and then the Big Dance.

This 2015 team had plenty of ups and downs, had far less seasoning, was not very versatile inasmuch as everyone had well defined positional responsibilities, and was not nearly as dominate in the ACC as the 2010 guys were.  This 2015 team surprised a lot of experts.

Ro: 

The 2010 team only found themselves after Brian Zoubek was inserted into the starting lineup in January. This team was beating everyone straight out of the gate. There were some similarities though.

The 2010 team was dominated by upperclassmen while the 2015 team was carried by Freshmen, but both teams got better when there was a defection or two. Elliot Williams was meant to be a star at Duke.  He transferred   surprisingly, just before the start of the season, leaving many with an underwhelming feeling of the upcoming season.  Williams was meant to be the starter at Point Guard (probably one reason he didn’t hesitate to stay as he preferred off-guard), and left only Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer in the Backcourt.  That prompted Andre Dawkins to leave high School early, however tragedy would befall the saviour-to-be when his mother was hurt and his sister killed in a car accident on their way to see Duke play.  This forced Coach K to use a tight rotation which worked out brilliantly.

The 2015 team dropped down to “eight” after a disgruntled Rasheed Sulaimon was expelled.  Maybe there is a pattern here. Coach K wins with a tight rotation.  This doesn’t bode well for the upcoming season though.

Query #2

What was your most memorable play from the Big Dance ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think that play in the Wisconsin game where Grayson got that loose ball and began to take over.   Up to that point, I thought it was anyone’s game.  Quinny & Matt we’re cold as ice, “Oaks” & Justise had 4 Fouls, and Grayson was so solid and inspiring that the tired Wisconsin guys were flummoxed.

It was the reason why Duke had to create the “One Shining Moment Award” for Grayson at the Annual Awards Banquet.  

Ro:

Most of the games in the tournament were over pretty early, except for the Final Four and Championship game (the Utah game was also close but Duke was in control).  Duke’s play in the waning minutes was pretty inspiring. First Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones eroded a 9 point lead by the Badgers, that inspired Okafor, who reentered the game.

Okafor picked up 4 Fouls and was relegated to the Bench early until just under 3 minutes left on the clock.   Coach K took a chance and inserted the Center back into the game.  There was a sequence when Okafor scored 4 Points on 2 offensive rebounds.  On one occasion “Frank the Tank” held his shoulder’s down, but Jahlil executed a brilliant spin move in the paint for a “plus one,” though he would miss the free throw.  On the other end he played Kaminski straight up one-and-one and blocked his shot cleanly.

By the time that sequence was finished, Duke had retaken the lead, however the Badgers hadn’t gotten to the Final Four without a fight.  They looked to storm back, but Tyus Jones was not going to be denied a championship, something he prophesied a year earlier.

Query #3

What was the most heartbreaking loss of the season ???

Bermuda Bob:

Things were off to a bad conference start with back-to-back losses at State, and then Miami at home in January.  Then Coach K outsmarted Rick Pitino in their house and the ship seemed to be righted.

Then came the Notre Dame game.  It was a turning point for the team, they lost a hard fought game, and Rasheed was thrown off the team the next day.  It is when the saying “8 is Enough” got a new meaning, inasmuch as Duke now only had 8 scholarship players on the roster.   It was when those kids realized that if they wanted to fulfill their dream of a National Championship, they had to become men.  

Ro:

Up until January, Duke looked like a Final Four team.  There was a feeling that they were on a collision course with an undefeated Kentucky team, never mind that ACC rival Virginia was undefeated at the time.  The struggle with Wake Forest, in the previous game, was ignored and put down to fatigue and then there was the first loss to NC State.  A setback, but there was still optimism, better to lose now than later, or it was due to that dreaded Freshman “wall.”

Then the following game, Miami happened, and the wheels literally came off the cart.  The defense that looked vulnerable against bottom feeder Wake Forest, was subsequently exposed by NC State.  They got totally hammered by Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium, snapping a 41 game home winning record. The Blue Devils immediately moved from a team with teething problems to a broken one.  

Query #4

What was the most inspirational win from the past season ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

Easily, the Virginia game right after the Notre Dame game, then the trouncing of Notre Dame 8 days later at Cameron.  It was beginning of Duke winning thru February and didn’t stop until they got caught napping against Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament.  12 games in total, then another 6 to win the National Championship.  

Ro: 

The game that showed that Duke was a national contender was the victory at Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten challenge.  After that the sky was the limit, if a Freshman laden team can beat a previously Final Four team on their own home turf.

The most inspiring game was not a victory but a loss to Notre Dame.  After losing back-to-back games to NC State and Miami, Duke was in limbo. They rebounded to beat Louisville and St. John’s on the road, and PITT at home, but they didn’t have the same fire they previously had where they broke teams early and cruised to victory. Those 3 victories were the grind it out types.

Then they went to Notre Dame, who were 8-1 in the ACC play at the time, while Duke stood at 4-2.  This was a really big test and Duke pushing the Irish right down to the wire until Jerian Grant made a few clutch (lucky) plays.

After that game the resounding feeling among the Duke squad was that they could have won.  Then there was the unfortunate dismissal of Sulaimon. Next game was against undefeated Virginia, on their home turf. It was a tough victory, that game Duke got their “mojo” back, propelling them on a 12 game winning streak.

Query #5

All season we lamented Duke’s lack of perimeter defense and rim protection but in the tournament, they seemed to turn this around.  Have you ever seen a bigger turn around ??? 

Bermuda Bob: 

In modern Duke history, I’d have to say that the way the 2010-11 Team reformulated their chemistry after the injury to Kyrie Irving.  They changed the way they played, won the ACC Tournament, and were awarded a #1 Seed, but were sent to the West Region.  Unfortunately, their formidable efforts went down the drain when Irving suddenly proclaimed himself ready for play, upsetting that chemistry, leading to the slaughter by Arizona in the Sweet 16.

As we now know, he got back on the floor by convincing Coach K he was staying for at least another year, but was really looking to be drafted #1.   

Ro:

These Freshmen were clearly talented, and were a complete fit for each other. Everyone assumes that they just turned up, won, then headed to the NBA. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Coach K has really earned his respect with how he masterminded this 5th NCAA Championship.

Throughout the tournament no Duke player was consistent offensively, but collectively their Defense prevailed every game.  If anyone had suggested in early January, that Duke would win a championship based on their Defense, they would have instantly been medicated on the spot and taken away.

This was a remarkable turnaround and the Duke coaching staff has to be given credit for such a miraculous job. Justice Winslow was the chief operator on the Court, with Matt Jones, and especially in the Championship game, Amile Jefferson.

Okafor maybe a terrible pick-and-roll defender but he can straight-up defend the Post.  Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones realised that on their own. They may struggle to stay in front of their mark but together they were lethal.

Query #6

Throughout the season, who do you think was the most unappreciated player ???  

No faire picking Grayson !!! 

Bermuda Bob:

I think it’s a tie between Amile and “Plums” … These guys are different inasmuch as Amile is more of the “strong, silent type” where “Plums” was high energy in his play and “pumping up” the team and the fans !!!  Imagine someone who could pump up the Cameron Crazies more than they already are, but “Plums” did it !!! 

Amile was the benefactor of double teams on “Oaks” on the offensive side, but more often than not, he was deft on the defensive side.  Later in the season, he was asked to play the Pivot at the Foul Line, and work the “pick-and-roll” or “dish-and-drive” ... something he had not done before.  I never saw anything but positive captaincy from him, as he used that incredible wingspan to his advantage.  His stats bespeak him as the solid, dependable presence that allowed the team to “click” !!!

“Plums” had the more difficult task of spelling the guy who was in his presumed position way back when he accepted his Red Shirt.  He did it with the class and verve of the gentleman he is !!!  How often did we see him excel on both sides of the Court in 2-3 minutes, only to be set back down at the next TV Time Out ???  I never once saw anything but leadership and acceptance of his role, all while fist pumping and shouting encouragement to his teammates !!!  I look forward to seeing more of his trademark thunderous dunks in his last season at Duke this year.

Ro:

We didn’t see Grayson Allen that much, so I agree that Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee are worthy candidates here.  I would also add Matt Jones to that equation, however they will all come up short next to Quinn Cook.

For 4 years we have all lamented the faults of the Senior Captain.  At one point there were grumblings that he should transfer, but Cook withstood the criticism.  He was even upstaged multiple times by Freshmen, but Cook kept coming … kept plugging away.

He suffered some embarrassing defeats in the NCAA tournament.  Twice, he was a part of teams that lost in the 1st round (actually 2nd round but first game in the tournament), which is very un-Duke-like. Can you imagine the nightmares he must have had before the tournament started ???

At this point, I would bombard you with stats and facts but that would be pointless here because I am referring to Cook’s game off the court. How he was able to be a shining example to his teammates.  His end of year speech at the Duke banquet will always be memorable, especially when he turned to his Head Coach and said the following:

“You called me and my mom into a meeting and you were brutally honest, but you gave me confidence I could lead these guys,” Cook said to Krzyzewski. “From that day on, I didn’t want to let you down. I made it my agenda to be the first one at practice and the last one to leave.”

How much did this 5th Duke Championship mean to you ???

Did you celebrate then wake up the next day wondering if, or hoping, next season’s team can repeat this, essentially moving on immediately ???

So you may have followed Duke for years. You probably saw The Shot and Shane Battier’s Block but this 5th Championship probably doesn’t mean as much to you as it did to Quinn Cook.  No player has suffered such heart breaking losses at Duke (other than Jeff Capel, but Coach K didn’t coach that team).  He was injured so that doesn’t count) in Coach K’s time like Quinn Cook did.

Cook has had a lot of love since the season wrapped up, but it isn’t enough. This is what sports is about … triumphing over adversity.  He started his career at Duke as a bench warmer, and lead the Blue Devils to a Championship his Senior year.

Query #7

What is the single most solitary aspect of this team that you will always remember about this team ???

Bermuda Bob: 

I believe that right from the start, this team always gave the impression that they genuinely liked each other, wanted to play together, and left their egos at the door.  They seemed to double-down on this attitude after the dismissal of Rasheed, which led many to believe that he was more of a detrimental distraction more than was reported.

Ro:

This team will always be remembered as the first non-Kentucky “one-and-done” squad to win a Championship.  This will be a shame because there is more to this team than that, however that’s how people will remember it.

Query #8

This team marked the first time Coach K won it all with a team dominated by “one-and-done” Freshman.  

Do you think of this as a pivotal impact point on the balance of Coach K’s career ??? 

Bermuda Bob: 

I never thought I’d have to admit this, but yes it does.  I am as happy as any other Duke fan that they won the National Championship, but it came at the cost of capitulation.  I only hope that a “2-and-done” scheme may be adopted by the NCAA/NBA in the not too distant future.  I’d even be happier if the MLB version were adopted.

Nonetheless, my hat is off to Coach K for managing these youngsters, and to them for winning it all !!!

I wish them the best in their individual futures.

Ro:

Why should it ???

The man has won in 4 decades, under different rules, and different cultures. Surely that is more of a testament to his staying power and flexibility.

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Thanks for sharing this retrospective of Duke’s return to glory !!!  

We welcome you comments either here on on our Twitter site at:

@SimplyDukeBB

Simply Duke Basketball Series: “Ro on Recruiting” Installment #1

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

This is the 1st Installment of our summer series by Rowan Shiell.  In this article, he examines the big picture, which promises to change quite rapidly as Coach K settles on his team for next season, so stay tuned !!!

Duke had both their prized recruits on display at the Nike Hoop Summit, which is a more structured level of competition as opposed to the McDonald’s All American game, or the Jordan Brand Classic.

The USA lost to a World Team for the 3rd year in a row, which means that the game is changing at the roots.  It won’t be long before USA will struggle to dominate the International Competition at the top of the game.  This will be a problem for the coach that follows Coach Krzyzewski, as it will be another 5 years before this happens due to the disposition of the talent level worldwide. It isn’t hard to predict that Canada and Australia are the frontrunners to unseat America when this happens.

As for the World Game at hand, there was good news and bad news.

The Bad 

Chase Jeter: Five points, five rebounds, one steal, 1-5 FG

Jeter is another player that seemed to struggle to finish against the World Team’s length.  His physical tools are certainly apparent, but the skill level just isn’t quite there yet.  This is okay, given that he was the youngest of the big men in camp this week.  He’s not a “one-and-done,” but he will certainly have a shot at the NBA due to his athleticism and size.

The good

Luke Kennard

You can turn that around and say its great that Jeter will be around for more than one season and bad that Kenard may be gone after a year.  Jeter was anticipated as a “one and done” player but the fact that Duke was still recruiting Caleb Swanigan (committed to Michigan State) should have been a sign that they were not happy with just Jeter.  With Sean Obi coming off his Red Shirt year, Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson returning as Seniors, they all and should get more playing time.

Kennard is a high scoring Guard who is now a legend in Ohio.  As a Senior he averaged 38.1 points, a hairline shy of 10 Rebounds, almost 6 Assists and 2 Steals.  One can assume, with all the recent accolades, that he will leave if he has a good Freshman season at Duke.  He just outplayed Malik Newman for Team USA, who is considered the top combo Guard in the 2015 class.

Kennard is compared to JJ Reddick and Jon Scheyer because of his ability to shoot, this being reinforced after he won the McDonald’s All American 3 Point Contest.  He can also utilise his 6’6″ frame to finish strong at the rim.

The way Duke uses him will be dependant on Duke getting another Point Guard to replace Tyus Jones, who is leaving for the NBA Draft.  If Duke can’t get a Point Guard, then Kennard will probably be utilised as a Lead Guard. Lets hope he is more Jon Scheyer than Jimmer Fredette.

Chase Jeter on the other hand is losing ground fast. Jahlil Okafor is a tough act to follow, yet this hasn’t deterred Jeter from committing to Duke in the wake of the Freshman Of the Year.  From Loren Woods to the Wear twins, the guy, or guys, that follows the dominating big guy is always torn to shreds, as expectation levels are too high to maintain.

Loren Woods followed Tim Duncan at Wake Forest and the Wear twins followed Tyler Hansbrough at North Carolina.  They all eventually transferred and found happiness elsewhere.

Jeter, will have help, at Duke, in the form of Jefferson and Rice transfer, Sean Obi, however it needs to be reinforced that Jeter is no Okafor, who was the consensus #1 recruit coming to Duke. Jeter is currently ranked 9th by ESPN. Where one is a low post banger, albeit one of the best to ever play in college basketball in a very long time, the other is more of a finesse player who plays facing the basket.

Jeter is connected to Duke in a surprising way. Chris Jeter was one of those kids that were given a second chance at UNLV after flaming out somewhere else.  Today the elder Jeter is a police officer in Las Vegas. The surprising aspect is that his son is now committed to Duke, who had a turbulent history with UNLV back in the early ’90’s when Jeter was enrolled there.

One other recruit that is on Duke’s radar is Brandon Ingram, a North Carolina kid who had a good showing at the Hoop Summit.

Brandon Ingram: 12 points, 5-6 FG, 3 Rebounds, one Assist.

Ingram played a “small-ball” 4 (in quotations because he’s still nearly 6-foot-10, after all) for a majority of his minutes, and it’s a role he excelled in against the bigger World frontline.  Ingram showed off the ability to pull up off the dribble in the midrange for jumpers, the ability to slash in the lane for lay-ins, as well as get out in transition for a guy his size.  He still needs to put on a lot of weight, but with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and his smooth athleticism, he could end up being one of the better prospects in this class when it’s all said and done. Defensively he’s more of a mixed bag, as his stance is rather hunched over and isn’t ideal.  The key will be making the right college decision, and ending up in the right situation that will play him in the role he was deployed in today.  He is a developmental guy, but one that could really blossom soon.

Ingram is currently considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Based on the fact that he hasn’t committed to a school yet, Kentucky may be the favourite here.  The Wildcats already have a commitment from Charles Mathews, and Alex Poythress will be back.  The stumbling block here is if Jaylen Brown signs with Kentucky Ingram could be the odd man out.

If I was a top ten wing prospect I would avoid UNC because of Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks and Brice Johnson.  All these guys are interchangeable, and may be the reason why UNC struggled over the past season. Coach Roy Williams has recruited one too many 6’6″ to 6’9″ guys who can’t shoot from far, and can’t bang in the Post.  The exceptions here are Jackson, who showed promise as a shooter and Johnson who finishes well around the hoop, but could enter the upcoming NBA Draft, like Tokono. Ingram, who fits into the same category as all these guys but has a higher ceiling, and will always be looking over his shoulder at numerous guys that can replace him.

This means that it is either Duke or Kansas for Ingram. Brown is also considering Kansas.  If Ingram wants to stay in state his best option, from his list, is Duke because with the departure of Justise Winslow he will have ample playing time, and Duke will sink or swim with him.

Kansas has only Brannen Greene, at Small Forward, with the departure Kelly Oubre to the NBA Draft.  So, Kansas can provide Ingram with as much playing time as Duke, however he will be one Jay Hawk among many unlike at Duke where he will more than likely have ample opportunities to shine individually and as part as a team.

The importance of the last aspect cannot be understated. Coming into the season there were 4 Small Forwards rated above Justise Winslow.  They were all ranked in the Top 15, with Winslow bring up the rear, but now he will more than likely be the top Small Forward chosen in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Why ??? Stanley Johnson went to Arizona and divided minutes with Rondae Hollis Jefferson. Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson both went to North Carolina. Kansas faltered down the stretch.

All these players struggled at one point or anotherm but guess which player was allowed to play through his struggles and it paid dividends at the end of the season ???  Justice Winslow.  The only guy smart enough to go to a school where he was needed. When Pinson got hurt Roy Williams replaced him with Jackson.  When Stanley Johnson struggled, Sean Miller benched him in favour of Hollis Jefferson.  Oubre had a strong finish to his season but I have yet to hear a strong argument of him over Winslow.

 

Thanks for reading !!!

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@SimplyDukeBB

Jersey’s of Duke Players Retired: Chris Collins & Jon Scheyer in Illinois … Jay Williams in NJ

 

SDBB - Jerseys Retired - Collins, Scheyer, & WilliamsOne of the most incredibly special honours any player can have is to have his (or her) jerseys retired by their schools.  Recently three Duke standouts experienced this honour.

Chris Collins’ #20 and Jon Scheyer’s #23 were retired by their High School, Glenbrook, North in Illinois.  Interestingly enough, both have gone on to coaching positions with Duke, when their playing days were done.  Chris has become the Head Coach at Northwestern, while Jon is in his second year as a Duke Assistant.

If you take a moment to consider the odds of two youngsters playing for the same High School, then College, and then coaching at the same University, it boggles the mind.

Makes you wonder what’s in the water there, eh ???

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 Jason “Jay” Williams has already enjoyed having his #32 jersey retired by St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, NJ.  Recently Jay also had his old Grammar School retire his old #32 jersey.  The former Sacred Heart School in South Plainfield, New Jersey extended that honour during a recent re-dedication of the school gymnasium.

I have always had a special interest in Jay as I also attended Sacred Heart and then St, Joe’s some 26 years earlier.

The gymnasium they re-dedicated was originally a church sanctuary built to be an essential part of the student’s daily lives, then for the congregation on Sunday and and other Holy Days.   As a 6th grader, I was part of one the first squads to play on that “real” gymnasium floor, once the sanctuary had been re-located to a newly constructed church.  A few years later, I would move on to St. Joe’s and have my basketball career stunted by a freak accident just as basketball season began.   I put my hand thru a glass door on my way to Science Class in an annex.  My hand, deeply cut, meant my playing days were essentially over.

I’ve long enjoyed what might be the closest connection a fan can have to a player, and while St. Joe’s has seen other players continue their careers, none have done it the way Jay has.  Many do not know that he excelled at other interests from the classroom to Chess.  He is now an integral part of ESPN’s college basketball team.

Having a Grammar School recognize his achievements is certainly a grand gesture, but one most certainly appropriate.  I guess you could say that having your jersey retired in all three of your schools is the ultimate “Trifecta” !!!

CountDown to “CountDown …” – Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer

 This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - 2014 Profiles - Jon Scheyer Collage

Jonathan James Scheyer

“Jon” to all of us, is a well known role player at Duke, having led the 2009-10 team to the last National Championship for the school. Very often called on to switch from his natural Shooting Guard position, he always did so with great aplomb.

During his four (4) years at Duke, his pages and pages of accomplishments, are something I suggest you look up and marvel at when you have the time.

He will always be remembered as a deft shooter from anywhere on the Court, especially from the Charity Stripe. His trademark passing and acrobatic penetrations to the basket made some equate him to “Pistol Pete” Maravich. He produced one of the best Assist-to-Turnover Ratios in the country his Senior year.

After cutting down the Net in Indianapolis, Jon went undrafted but was signed to the Miami Heat’s 19 man Summer League roster for 2010.   As expected, he excelled, but his success was short lived. In July, he was poked in the right eye. The injury tore his eyelid, detached and tore the Retina, and injured the Optic Nerve. The injury also caused him to suffer from incapacitating headaches.

Essentially, with his eye fully healed, Jon got some time in with the Houston Rocket’s D-League squad, he averaged 13.1 Points, 4 Assists, & 4 Rebounds. Then he signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the European League and played a year there. He came back to the states, played sparingly in the 76’ers Summer League and for Spain’s Gran Canaria.

As anyone who knows, Coach K keeps tract of his extended family. Understanding the potential Jon could bring to the sidelines, he appointed Jon as a Special Assistant, filling the spot left open when Chris Collins left for the Head Coaching job at Northwestern in 2013. The next year, Jon would be promoted to Assistant Coach when WoJo was named Head Coach at Marquette.

Jon brings plenty to the Coaching Staff, but moreover, as a four (4) year graduate, he understands, along with Jeff Capel and Nate James what fully matriculated players mean to the Duke programme. I’m sure he will be at Duke for a long time, and I doubt if you could find anyone who doesn’t think that it’s a great idea !!!

Rock On !!!