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

By Bill Wheeler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Duke !!!

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Thanks for the read !!!

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

@SimpleDukeBB

SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Jack White

By Bermuda Bob

Jack is a 6’7″ 226 lb. Sophomore Forward from Traralgon, Victoria, Australia, and will again wear #41 this year.  Before coming to Duke, he played on the FIBA Under 16, 17, and 19 teams producing respectable numbers.  He played High School ball for The Australian Institute of Sport.

Once again, Duke has one of the deepest rosters in college basketball.  Coach K tends to keep his rotations as short as possible, no more than 7 or 8 players.  Last year,that made it an uphill battle for a little heralded international player to get meaningful playing time.  I presume by now, that he is well aware of the situation.  The confidence he has in himself must be stellar inasmuch as Jack saw only 61 minutes in 10 games last year.

During the mass exodus after last season, there were some, like myself, who thought Jack might seek out one of the mid-Major schools who originally recruited him.  There was not a peep in the media about his looking to transfer, even if he is as buried on the depth charts as he was last year.  It reminded me of his quote I found last year.  Here it is:

“It’s a different path to what most Aussie kids take and that makes it a great challenge in itself, I have confidence I can play straight away but Duke don’t promise anything to anyone whether you are an international kid or a McDonald’s All-American.  That’s part of the challenge, working for your opportunities and proving what you have got.  It’s going to be a great challenge but one I’m ready for.”

In a pre-season video presented on GoDuke.com, Jack explains his mindset dedicated to being ready.  Here’s the link to it:

http://www.goduke.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?&db_oem_id=4200&id=6217005

So, again this year, I find Jack in Limbo on an even more talented team than last year.  I sure hope he is taking advantage of the Duke education being availed to him.

Jack is the son of Jeff and Rachel White.

He has a twin, Ben and a sister, Emma.

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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: 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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Watch for our next installment this week on what ills Duke …

SDBB: The Trouble With Duke at VaTech …

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

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

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

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

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

So, why did this happen ???

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

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

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

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

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

Who can be that guy ???

What’s ahead ???

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

What needs to be done ???

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

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

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

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Uniform Watch …

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

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SDBB: 10 Questions for Duke Going Into Conference Play

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

My Take … 

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

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

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

 

Questions for the future …

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

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

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SDBB: 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 …

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SDBB: 2016-17 Player Profiles: #41 Jack White

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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…

Ro is our resident Recruiting Specialist, so here is his Profile of Frosh #41, Jack White …

Jack White will be the first Australian to play for Coach Mike Krzyzewski when he suits up for Duke in the coming fall.  Most Australians tend to play for Mid-Majors and have at least one year of High School or Prep School experience.  White came straight from “Down Under” to Durham though he did visit Duke back in February.

“It’s a different path to what most Aussie kids take and that makes it a great challenge in itself,”  White said, “I have confidence I can play straight away but Duke don’t promise anything to anyone whether you are an international kid or a McDonald’s All-American.  That’s part of the challenge, working for your opportunities and proving what you have got.  It’s going to be a great challenge but one I’m ready for.”

Duke has one of the deepest rosters in college basketball, and Coach K tends to keep his rotations as short as possible, so it will be an uphill battle for a little heralded international player to get meaningful playing time, however, he seems to be aware of the situation, and has a lot of confidence in himself.

He will get his moment to prove himself, whether it is a huge window or a tiny one.  Everyone always does at Duke, just know, for most, the margin of error can be very small.

Jack was originally listed as a 6’7”, 220 lb. Power Forward, in most recruiting reports, however his Duke profile has him currently listed at 6’5” and 215 lbs. and he is considered more of a Wing/Slasher type player.

He will most likely be competing for playing time with established players such as Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, and Luke Kennard, and maybe to some extent, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson.  You couldn’t ask for a tougher bunch of talent to crack, but Duke must have seen something in White to offer him a Scholarship out of the blue.  His only other publicly known offer was from Boise State.

White was due to arrive in Durham in July but due to “Visa issues,” he arrived in time for fall classes in August.   247Sports.com speculated that, as White had never played American basketball, and due to the loaded roster, maybe the Australian would be willing to take a non-medical Red Shirt.  This would allow him to get acclimated to American basketball, but that thought was quickly shut down by White who said, “I’m not Red Shirting.”

White says he was asked to work on his perceived weaknesses, by the Duke Coaching Staff, which are “lateral quickness and ball handling,” in the extra time he had before getting to Durham.

Duke Report thinks that if White is successful at Duke, it could be a way for the Coaching Staff to recruit one of the hottest emerging talent beds, outside the USA and Canada, which is Australia.  “Down Under” has been a recruiting pipeline that constantly keeps the St. Mary’s Gaels in contention in the West Coast Conference.  In addition, “Auzzie-land” recently produced talent such as Patty Mills and Ben Simmons.

The most talented players are trained at the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, previously known as the Australian Institute of Sport, where they focus on developing players individually rather than focus on team oriented goals such as winning.  For 2 years, players are given “… world class sports science, nutrition, physiotherapy and psychology services while they complete a rigorous training schedule and attend high school” according to The Guardian.

Every current Australian NBA player has spent time here; from Andrew Bogut, the 2005 #1 NBA Draft Pick, to Ben Simmons (he only spent 3 months there before enrolling in an American high school) the 2016 1st NBA Pick.

That is probably why Jack White is so confident in his ability to contribute at Duke right away.  This is what he told the Guardian a year ago when they visited the centre.

“It shows that there is no excuse, with the resources we have at our disposal, not to get to the highest level, to represent our country and even play in the NBA. It is definitely encouraging to see these guys who have achieved what we are aiming for – we can follow that path and learn from them.”

Coach K saw first-hand the development of Australia when they were 1 of 2 teams to threaten the USA’s dominance, on the international stage, at the Rio Olympics.

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Watch for our next introduction tomorrow …

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