SDBB – “After Sleeping On It …” If You Had The Chance, What Questions Would You Want To Ask Coach K At This Point In This Disappointing Season ???

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob wonder out loud about something many other Duke fans fantasize about … being able to ask Coach K some burning questions …

Query #1

Chase Jeter has proven to be a dud, so why have you kept trying with him when you were so quick to bench guys like Alex Murphy, Mike “Silent G” Gbinije, and Semi Ojeleye ???

Rowan:

This is a very good question because as Dick Vitale observed during the Duke/Syracuse game, ” … if you give a kid a scholarship he should be able to give you at least ten minutes on the court.”

Why does Coach K give certain players numerous chances while alienating others ???  He gave Jeter so many chances to prove himself yet when Obi gets on the Court he gets yanked after one mistake.  I would love to be a fly on the wall during practice to see what Jeter does to get the benefit of the doubt, or is it because of his very high ranking and All American status ???

Bermuda Bob:

I could not agree more and like your “fly on the wall” idea. As you know, I have long discounted the “… it’s how he performs in practice …” representation.  It’s game time performance that counts the most because the pressure is diametrically opposed.  If you doubt me, why have some coaches piped in crowd noise to ready their players for big games in venues that his players would find off-putting in some way ???

Query #2

Sean Obi has proven performances at his former school, Rice.  Why did you recruit him, and watch him waste a year of eligibility, if you are not willing to play him, especially after seeing Amile go down and with Jeter failing ???

Rowan:

Sean Obi played his Freshman season at Rice where he averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds in 27 minutes.  Rice finished dead last in Conference USA and were 7-23 on the season.  An impressive stat line for a Freshman but as a team they were terrible. However, Duke did offer him a full ride after Obi decided to transfer from Rice.

One would have thought a year defending Jahlil Okafor in practice and watching Duke win their 5th National Championship under Coach K, would have Obi ready.  Despite his shortcomings he has a skill that cannot be disregarded. Rebounding !!!  Something Duke has been noticeably deficient of in their recent losses.

Would Obi have allowed Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson to grab a dozen Offensive Rebounds ??? T here are no obvious answers to these questions because Obi has yet to play relevant minutes.  One or two minutes scattered throughout the game is a small sample size.

Bermuda Bob:

You make an excellent point about a year playing “designated combatant” to “Oaks” …  I honestly thought that he would get the nod at Center this year, but when the rumours began to be spread, I knew something was awry.  Once again people were quoting his performance in Practice, that he had come in out of shape, that he wasn’t practicing hard, and things like that.

Now, I’m not discounting the heightened skill set of “Plums,” but let’s go to Dick Vitale again when he noted that “Plums” had a limited skill set, but made up for it with intensity.  Yes, he does, no honest fan would deny that … but Obi HAS those skills.  Amile compensated for them from the first Tip Off of the season.   So, why not use Obi when Amile went down … and Jeter proved to be a dud ???

Any guy who can pull down 9+ Rebounds in ANY D-1 programme, can do at least half of that in the ACC.  Duke lost a 9.3 RPG player in Amile, so why not give Obi the chance to replicate that ???  I honestly don’t get it !!!

Query #3

Is there a reason why you did not play Antonio or Obi during those blow-out games early on ???  

Rowan:

Coach K is a winner because he loves to win.  That may sound like an incredibly obvious statement but bare with me.  Knowing this team is young and inexperienced, would it not have been to Duke’s benefit to throw Jeter, Antonio and Obi into games against LBSU (105-81), Elon (105-66), or any of the teams they played in December ???

I would understand that if in practice these guys get lost on Defence, or didn’t know the offensive set plays, but in Duke games they play mostly “Man-to-Man.”  As for Offense, all they need to do is keep the other team from scoring while the main scorers for Duke get a “blow.”  There is a reason the 3 games Duke has lost recently have been close games, and you can’t discount the amount of minutes the Starters are playing.

Playing these guys in the lead up to Conference Play would have given them at least some experience, and allowed Ingram to play as hard as he can … instead of playing to avoid Fouls, as he does now.

Bermuda Bob:

We have both agreed that in the waning minutes of games, Duke’s shooting prowess falls off markedly and the answer is simple … tired legs.  I maintain that even the most fit athlete is unable to perform at the same level for an entire game. Totally re-hydration is impossible.

Plus, let’s face it … these guys are still kids !!!  That’s not a knock, it just the truth.  The Frosh were in High School last year playing with and against 9 other players with nothing close to their skill set.  The ACC is as much the “Big Time” as any other conference, so their energy level needs to be considered.

If you look at the minutes played by the top 7 guys (including Amile), they average from 34.5 MPG by Grayson to 28.3 MGP for “Plums” !!!  The next players average from 8.1 for Jeter to 2.2 for OBI …  How can the Starters maintain their energy levels if they never get enough time to recover because all the Bench guys get to do is work on their splinter-picking skills ???

Query #4

 Have you forgotten how you have broken Syracuse’s Zone Defense in the past by placing a Blue Devil at the free throw line ???

Rowan:

Ingram and Allen are far too talented to be shooting 8 Trifectas each, in a game. That tells me that they were just settling.  Ingram didn’t even shoot a Free Throw in 40 minutes of action.  We can dispute the end of the game all we want but, the reason Duke lost is not because of the non-calls on Matt Jones at the end of the game.  It was because (1) Tyler Roberson got a dozen second-chances in the form of Offensive Rebounds, and (2) Duke shot 37 3-Pointers, and made only 10.

Isn’t Ingram the perfect player to break that zone ??? I think an opportunity was missed here.

Bermuda Bob:

Somewhere in another galaxy, there’s a book explaining College Basketball on Earth, and in the reference section where “Zone Defense” is listed, it sez: “See Syracuse Basketball.”

In my opinion, the easiest was to break down a Zone Defense is by ball movement that includes a High Post on the Foul Line by a player who can both facilitate the “Drive & Dish” and be a risk to turn and drop a 15 footer. “Plums” is not that player.   Amile played the position well, but was rarely considered a scoring threat from there, even though he often pivoted for a Lay-Up when he felt unguarded.  Brandon Ingram surely is that player. Why was he lining up outside the Arc with Matt, Grayson, Luke, and Derryk ???  I think that in their weariness, they simply didn’t wish to see themselves beaten and battered as “The Chief” was last season.  Now, that might sound trite, but even with the new Rules this year, favouring the Offensive Player, much contact is allowed.

Another aspect is that everyone knows that Coach K loves a 3 Point shooter, so most of his players love to shoot, so when Syracuse gave them long shots – even some from Jimmer Fredette range – they took them !!!

Lastly, have you noticed that no one on this year’s squad employs the “Float Away” shot that Seth Curry employed so successfully ???

Query #5

Why do you insist on playing Matt Jones at Point Guard ???

Rowan:

Derryck Thornton is testing boundaries and sometimes he can be overzealous, which makes him turnover prone yet, he is a better Point Guard than Matt Jones.  Jones can’t pass and, worst of all, he can’t dribble and pass. His reaction time is too slow, and he has zero “Court Vision.”  When he drives to the paint it is a miracle.  If he gets a shot to the rim, because he is so predictable and slow, his passes always end up in the wrong hands, or he gets stripped cleanly.

In games where Duke needs to protect a lead, he is a calming presence on the perimeter, and playing Point Guard works when the Blue Devils need to kill time.

Jones should be allowed to play to his strength, being a “Spot Up” shooter and a defensive player … anything else is asking too much of him.  

Bermuda Bob:

Let’s first address the silliest rumour I’ve heard … that Coach K was surprised that Tyus Jones went to the NBA early.  To people believing this, I’ve got a bridge for you out in the desert.  “Oaks” and Tyus were linked for more years than they were not, so you had to presume both would go pro at the same time.  If you believe that, you must believe that Coach K didn’t have a vision for this year.  I simply believe he thought he had plenty at the Guard position and could interchange them at the Point.

As for Matt versus Derryck, I think he is making a mistake.  Matt is a solid player with verve and experience, and while he’s a good quarterback, he lacks some of the aspects great Point Guards are made of.   Think of Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams, or whomever else is your favourite and you’ll immediately see my point.

I think that Thronton’s inexperience is far down the list of Coach K’s problems. I simply believe that Coach K MUST put aside his traditional comfort levels and play his whole squad … if not, he might be amongst those schools wishing upon a star to get into the Big Dance in March !!! 

Query #6

Can Coach K turn this season around ???

Rowan:

 Duke Basketball Report has the utmost confidence in Coach K.  They reminded us of Duke’s early conference struggles, and go back as far as 2000, when Carlos Boozer went out with an injury, much like Amile Jefferson, to show how Coach K is a resilient man who always comes through with a solution.  Funny enough, those solutions were normally on the bench, not to mention those were two of the most talented teams Duke has ever had.

There is no easy fix for this team and I am sure Coach K will keep trying.  It’s just baffling that a man who once started a “Walk On” against his biggest rival, UNC, can’t get 30 minutes out of 3 players on scholarship against Syracuse or Notre Dame.

Bermuda Bob:

Maybe I just answered that question in the above, but let me itemize the things I’d change:

  • “Plums” has had a very good season, but someone needs to instruct him to STOP those goofy Picks out close to the Arc.  If you notice, in the games when he has excelled, he stayed in the Paint, where he belongs.  He lacks the footwork and foot-speed to recover to where he belongs, causing silly Fouls, or getting beaten along the BaseLine.
  • Utilize Obi in the same way Lance Thomas was. Many people conveniently forget that Lance was a prolific scorer in High School. His old High School Coach went public disagreeing with Coach K that National Championship year. Yeah right, buddy !!!

Note:   I’ve “borrowed” this point from a conversation Ro and I had during the ‘Cuse game, and I thought so much of it, I had to include it here.

  • Obi is the perfect player to do this.  He is a big presence who never fails to be positioned properly for a Rebound on either side of the Court. He was a .591 scorer in that position at Rice.
  • Post-Up Ingram as I mentioned earlier.  While some might think this would slow down his scoring, and it might, isn’t turning this team around and getting them back to winning the goal ???
  • Also as previously mentioned, the ENTIRE team has to be contributing and that means playing the bench.  Why has Walk-On, Nick Pagliuca played in more games (10) than Antonio (5) or Obi (9) ???   Why has Jeter stunk up the Court for 129 minutes and 14 TurnOvers, while Antonio and Obi have played a paltry 33 minutes, combined ???

Query #7        

Since the Duke Blue Devils were named for the “les Diables Bleus” a French Military Unit known for their flowing BLUE uniforms, why do you and Duke University allow Nike to put Duke Blue Devils in black uniforms ??? 

Rowan:

I think this team has bigger problems than their outfit …

Bermuda Bob:

Last year, Hall of Fame Golfer, Phil Michelson commented on why he preferred to wear black. His comment, while scientifically and grammatically incorrect, does reflect some common thinking. “It also helps me get more aggressive. Studies have shown, like NFL teams, when they wear black, they have more penalties. That’s what I need to do tomorrow is play more aggressive.” 

Everyone understands that Nike pays out tonnes of $$$ to programmes who, in turn, allow them to dictate alternative uniforms. This is so Nike can make more money on silly fans who will wear a colour that does not correspond with the school’s official colours.

My position is well documented. No player ought to be wearing black unless it is (A) the school’s official colour, (B) corresponds to the school’s namesake, or (C) corresponds to the team’s Mascot.

Black doesn’t have a place at Duke for all these reasons.  Phil Michelson is wrong, Nike is wrong, and both Coach K and the Administration are wrong to allow this to continue.  Players ought to be playing in school colours, and not be made into shill models, forced to wear a colour some marketer in Beverton, Oregon thinks will make Nike $$$ !!!

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SDBB: “What Have We Learned So Far ???” after the 2K Title Game

SDBB - So ... What have we learned so far ???

Tonight, Bermuda Bob & Rowan Shiell discuss “What we have learned so far” in this very  young 2015-16 Duke season. 

Query #1

After the obvious choice of Grayson Allen, who has impressed you the most thus far ???

Bermuda Bob:

I actually have 2 guys … “Plums” and Amile“Plums” has played so much tougher than either of his big brothers ever did !!!

Amile has defined what a true Journeyman is.  He could be called the “garbage man” because he quietly gets things done without fanfare.   I think this Senior Leadership will pay long term premiums !!!

Rowan Shiell:

First of all, who saw this coming from Allen ??? Incredible !!!

I like Derryk Thornton’s poise. Expectations were raised when he forewent his Senior year of High School to join Duke early. He didn’t immediately have the success that was required of him, mainly because – even if people want to admit it or not – he will always be compared to Tyus Jones.

It was disappointing that Thornton wasn’t a Starter, and when he played, he didn’t exactly overwhelm.  In Duke’s first two games he was shooting 3-of-17.

Then against Kentucky, it became abundantly clear to Thornton that he could actually play with the best of them.  He literally matured before our eyes, but it wasn’t obvious because Kentucky won big.  That’s not to mention Tyler Ulis got the upper hand down the stretch, but then he (Ulis) is probably the best Point Guard in college basketball.

Next game, against VCU, he Started and scored 19.  Against Georgetown he dropped 14.  In the NBA you don’t need a Point Guard to win, but not in college basketball. It is a must !!!

Query #2

In Allen’s last game, against Georgetown, he shot 9/12 on 5/6 from 3 and went 9/9 at the Free Throw Line.  A more perfect game he may never have.  If he continues at something close to this pace, he’s the hands-own Player of the Year, but the real question is:  

Is his current play enough to win Duke an ACC and even a National Championship ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think the real question is to wonder how adaptable Grayson is.  JJ proved to us that a Duke Guard could score tonnes.  Grayson is multi-faceted.  He Rebounds and dishes Assists.  I wonder if other defenses can replicate what Kentucky accomplished.  Personally, I believe that Kentucky’s “bigs” did what “bigs” instinctively do … hands up and block shots.  The sheer size of their Front Line schooled Grayson.  It wasn’t something Kentucky needed their “recruiter-in-coach” to direct them to do.   He just enjoyed looking like he did.  The end result was that they gave Coach K plenty of fodder to help make his Sophomore a better player and leader !!!

Rowan Shiell:

No. As the young season has shown, Duke wins only when Allen has not just a good game, but a great game.  That is a high standard to uphold.   We know what we are going to get from Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. Matt Jones looks like he can take on some more of the scoring load, however, if either Luke Kennard, and especially Brandon Ingram, cannot find their legs it is going to be a long season.

Remember, JJ Reddick used to be so run down by season’s end, he could barely get his “dukes” up for the tournament ???  That was the last time Duke had a player scoring 28 plus points a game.

Query #3:

Which Frosh has impressed (or not impressed) you the most ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think Thornton is maturing before our eyes.  I know that Ingram is in the mold of Kevin Durant, but he seems to get battered around when he penetrates.  It shows in his shots always being short.  Kennard finally found his shot on Sunday, and Jeter could be odd man out.

Rowan Shiell:

Have a guess who I think is the most impressive ???  Thornton is still learning, but I like his progress so far.  He has a good mid-range shot and he can hit the Three.  He just needs to get those Assist numbers up.  It does help if his teammates are making those shots too.

Query #4

What single factor do you think will define the rest of the non-conference season for Duke ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

While I think he has been forced to go to it because of the immaturity of his Frosh, I think Coach K’s acquiescence to go to a few Zone defenses will pay high premiums.  That 1-3-1 on Sunday was brilliant !!!  I almost changed the channel between a 1-3-1 defense and those horrid black uniforms made me wonder if I was really seeing Duke, or had I inadvertently switched channels ???

Rowan Shiell:

If the Georgetown game taught us anything, it was that 8 won’t do this season.  Now, with the propensity to Foul being far too easy to accomplish, I imagine Coach K will be looking to work another player into the rotation. It might be Chase Jeter, or Sean Obi.  I don’t know.  We saw Georgetown mount a furious comeback without Jefferson or Plumlee protecting the Rim.  Duke needs insurance against that happening again.

Query #5

Can Duke succeed with who they’ve got ???

Bermuda Bob:

Considering that Duke has the best College Coach of all time, I think he will have to “coach his brains out” because I think this is the biggest challenge he has had in all his years.  I honestly think he is up to it, and with the supporting coaching staff, I think they have the potential to go deep.  Remember, we have not yet seen the very deep bench, who are equally as talented.   It all hinges on leadership …

Rowan Shiell:

Yes, but Coach K is going to have to be on his “A” Game with this team. Right now, I have them middle of the pack in the ACC. Florida State has some great pieces, and Miami has been a revelation.  UNC should have Marcus Paige back by then, and even though they lost to UNI recently, they are still a dangerous team.  Even Wake jumped up and bit Indiana without their best player.  Then there is Notre Dame.

Most defenses are struggling under the new rules which are designed to promote scoring.  So, the best defensive system is now practically a good offense, and the ability to make Free Throws.

Bermuda Bob:

You are so right, my friend … Anyone remember when Vice Lombardi noted that “The best Defense is a good Offense” ???

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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 !!!  

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@SimplyDukeBB

Simply Duke Basketball – 2015 Duke Graduates & Honorees

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In today’s article, Bermuda Bob chronicles the academic accomplishments and awards given out at the Annual Post-Season Awards Banquet …

It’s that time of the year when college campuses are overrun by all sorts of young men and women sporting mortarboards, tassels, and gowns.  That means we rightfully ought to recognize them, so here they are:

Quinn Cook, a Theater Studies Major, was the starting Guard where he averaged 15.3 PPG, while he made 45.3% of his Field Goals, 39.5% of his Trifectas, and 89.1% of his Free Throws.  He set a new Duke record for an Assist-toTurnover Ration of 2.52:1.  He was the 7th Duke player to amass 1000 points and 500 Assists in his career.

Quinney was also the co-winner of the MVP Award, the Captain’s Award, the Most Minutes Award, and co-winner of the Free Throw Award.

We’d like to suggest you view Quinn’s remarks at the Annual Post-Season Awards Banquet, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-54Ak3xpHVg

Marshall Plumlee, a History Major, was a pivotal performer in the later portion of this year, while also being named to the All-ACC Academic Team. While he graduates this year, he will be back due to his Red Shirt early in his career.  He has already been named a Co-Captain for next season.  When he is finished at Duke, he will join the Military via his participation in ROTC.

“Plums” was also awarded the Mann Morale Award for his continued upbeat attitude on and off the Court.

Sean Kelly, a Psychology Major, spent 3 seasons as the Team Manager and was recognized for his efforts as being given Walk-On status.  You might remember his big brother, Ryan, who also played on a National Championship team in 2010.

Gerald Henderson, who left Duke after his Junior season, returned to school to complete his degree.  We want to give big kudos to him for being a great example to others who might have chosen the same path as he !!!  Come back and finish what you started, as you’ll need/want it in the future.

Other notable awards given to members of this year’s team were:

Amile, “Plums,” Justise, Tyus, and Grayson were all named to the to the All-ACC Academic Team for their efforts both on the Court and in the classroom.  You gentlemen are all an inspiration and evidence that athletics and sports can be partners in college basketball !!!

Amile Jefferson received the Top Scholar Athlete Award, and the Captain’s Award.

Matt Jones was awarded the Commitment and Values Award.

Grayson Allen caused Duke to create the “One Shining Moment Award” for his efforts toward the end of the season, especially in the National Championship game.

Jahlil “Oaks” Okafor was the other Co-MVP Award winner, and also earned the Best Field Goal and Best Rebounding Percentage Awards.

Tyus Jones earned a Best Free Throw Percentage and Most Assists Awards.

Justise “The Chief” Winslow received the Best Defensive Player Award.

Congratulations to each and every guy on this team.  You all gave us such a memorable year. We enjoyed every minute of it !!!

For those leaving, we wish you all the best.  For those returning, we look forward to next season when Amile, “Plums” and Matt will be the Captains.

 

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SDBB – “Ro on Recruiting” – This is Your 2015-16 Duke Blue Devils

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In his 4th installment, Rowan Shiell outlines what Duke will look like next season and what they may look like beyond that …

Mike Krzyzewski is recruiting a lot of players in the Class of 2016 that look like “one-and-done” recruits. #1 Jayson Tatum, #2 Harry Giles, #4 Dennis Smith, and #14 Tyus Battle are all based on ESPN’s 2016 rankings. All Duke targets that could finish in the Top 10 which is probably “one-and-done” range.

Those guys all have a foot through the door. 3 of them are Wing Players. They will all start when they show up. Go figure.

I have read reports that Grayson Allen will play anything from the #1 to #3 Position next season.

Some say Luke Kenard is sliding at the moment, but I think he should be a wonderful player, but only if given the opportunity to shine.

Many say Chase Jeter isn’t a “one-and-done,” more like one and work. Obi needs to lose weight, as he is chunky in the wrong places.

Aside from Brandon Ingram, Duke will struggle to score at times next season. Derryck Thornton isn’t a “one-and-done” recruit, but I think he can change that. Actually he will, but there might be an issue of his age. He is currently 17 years and 11 months (I don’t know how up to date “247 web page” is), which means he turns 19 next May.

So to recap, Duke will have:

  • A potential “one-and-done” in Brandon Ingram
  • 2 Seniors in Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee
  • A Junior in Matt Jones
  • Derryck Thornton might be potential “one-and-done”
  • Chase Jeter will be a wannabe “one-and-done.”
  • Sean Obi a Sophomore, having been forced to sit out a year because of his transfer to Duke.
  • Luke Kenard is a gamer
  • Grayson Allen, a star in the making.

These are your 2015-16 Duke Blue Devils.

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@SimplyDukeBB

SDBB: Point/CounterPoint #20 – On To the Final Four & How They Got Here !!!

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In today’s conversation, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about how Duke got to the Final Four, if the “one-and-done” recruit has served Coach K well, Duke’s newly found Defense, Duke’s best tourney player, and looking forward … 

Query #1

Duke has changed it’s recruiting policy over the last five years, whereby they seem to be more interested in recruiting top recruits who wish to enter the NBA draft after one season in college.

Within that time frame, the furthest Duke had made it into the NCAA tournament was the Elite Eight (that 2012-2013 season just happened to be the only year that a recruit didn’t head to the draft after the season) with two embarrassing first game upsets thrown in.

Does this Final Four berth change the view that Coach K cannot win with “one-and-done” kids ???

Rowan:

Does one season change the opinion that Coach K cannot win with “one-and-done” kids ??? Props have to be given to Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen (highly unlikely to be a one year player) for getting Duke this far.  One season is not enough to change that opinion, and if it was, they will need to do better than a Final Four to change that view.

Bermuda Bob:

Well, there are very different circumstances between this year and those previous years. I’ll explain, but first, I need to note to our readers that I have, and still am, a profound opponent of the whole concept of the “one-and-done” recruit. That said, here goes:

  •  2010-11 was the first time Coach K tipped his toe into the “one-and-done” water, he had Kyrie Irving, who played so very little because of his toe injury. That team reconstituted itself (I’m sure Coach K had something to do with it), won the ACC Tournament, and was awarded a #1 Seed in the West Region.

They won their first two games, then Kyrie Irving declared he was physically fit to play, and along with his family conspired to make Coach K believe he was coming back.   They were slaughtered by Arizona because that reconstituted team was subverted to Kyrie Irving.  It was later discovered that all he wanted to do was try and cement a #1 Pick in the NBA Draft.

  • 2011-2012 was the next dalliance with the “one-and-done” recruit. He was Austin Rivers, whom another Duke fan nicknamed “Da Black Hole” because Rivers turned out to be a ball-hog. I will always believe that he was the most-un-Duke-like player ever to be rostered.   His mouth got to campus before he did with his self-proclamations, and desire to be called “SubZero” to match his choice of jersey numbered zero. I will also always believe that he was a “favour” to Doc Rivers by Coach K. This team was severely subverted to Rivers.  So much so, in a game against Temple in Philadelphia, when he was knocked down and a TV Timeout called, his own players left him on the floor. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to have an opposing newspaper focus on ???  Even instead of their team’s win against Duke.

That team earned a #2 Seed in the South Region and was promptly dispatched by Lehigh, a #15 Seed from the Patriot League. They were 12.5 Point favourites, losing by 5 Points. Rivers did not even go back to Duke with his teammates !!!

One last thing … Mike “Silent G” Gbinije transferred from Duke. He would be the first in his recruiting class to leave because of the subversion, wasting a year at Duke and another waiting to go to Syracuse.

  •  2013-14, after a great run to the Elite 8 the previous year without a “one-and-done” recruit, Coach K’s recruited the very talented Jabari Parker. He was a fan favourite because he was talented, good looking, very well spoken, and humble.  He caused comparisons to Grant Hill.  Then in February, a Sports Illustrated article chronicled the relationship that was born and the promises made by Coach K to Jabari AND his parents.  The most worrisome aspect for me was that Jabari’s Mum could call the coaching staff and get a call back from Coach K anytime she wished. I wondered often if the other player’s parents had the same ability to do that.

Jabari was paired with a transfer, Rodney Hood.  Duke insiders will recall that Coach K made no bones about his desire to have everything go thru Jabari. The upperclassmen at Duke were again subverted.

Duke was Seeded #3 in the MidWest Region and lost in the First Round to Mercer, a 14 Seed of the Atlantic Sun Conference by 7 Points.

In the middle of this year, Alex Murphy finally gave up hope of not being subverted to a recruit coming in behind him. He transferred to Florida, after wasting 1 season and a half at Duke and another waiting to play for the Gators.

  • This year, after 3 of the last 4 seasons being abject failures with a single “one-and-done” recruit, Coach K changed his approach. He recruited 4 very different kids, making 3 of them instant Starters.

Semi Ojeleye, having warmed the bench the season before, could stand no more subversion and left Duke in mid-season, having wasted a year and a half, only to see himself being recruited behind.  He is now wasting another year of his life waiting to be allowed to play at SMU.

The question is if Coach K has mastered the “one-and-done” recruiting situation. The record and earning a Final Four spot would seem to mean that he has.  Time will tell, but moreover, what happens next year is important. Everyone will be interested to see if he can replicate this year.  That is regardless of what happens this Saturday.

Duke has thus far prevailed against upperclassmen laden programmes in this Big Dance in two very different ways.  The next opponent, Michigan State, will be led by very talented upperclassmen, but the most prolific Big Dance Coach of the century in Tom Izzo.

Query #2

Three #1 Seeds and a #7 Seed made it to the Final Four, which team had the easiest path ???

Rowan:

Kentucky may have created the most carnage until they ran into Notre Dame, who gave them a huge scare. Duke has had a good tournament so far, but they made it that way with unbelievable defense.

No doubt Michigan State has had a tough route, if not the toughest. Wisconsin has been the most lackadaisical until they woke up to dispatch Arizona, showing that they are definitely one to watch.

Bermuda Bob:

Kentucky played in the weakest conference, and played the weakest schedule of any of the other programmes.  The ACC & Big 10 have been well represented, even having to go thru each other to get here.  It was an ACC team that near defeated Kentucky, so up to that point they had “cupcakes.”

Furthermore, while many are falling for all the flauntings and flountings about the Kentucky team, the truth be told, they are half a team of kids who didn’t expect to be here this year, and hence the “reinforcements” idea.  No team in America has gotten so much attention while achieving so little, with so much, over the course of a substandard schedule.

Query #3

As always we have to ask this question … What is your biggest takeaway from this tournament ??? 

Rowan: 

“I think for these four games, we’ve played outstanding defense,” Coach Krzyzewski said. I can’t add any further to that.

Bermuda Bob:

Ah yes … Defense.  How many times this year have we talked about the questionable defense that a certain member of the Starters played ???

Well, Duke either played the greatest game of “snooker” up to this point, or they simply picked the best time to play stellar Defense.   Damn, I’m happy they did !!!

Query #4

Who has been Duke’s best player throughout the tournament ???

Rowan:

The easiest pick here is Justice Winslow, but the real MVP is Jahlil Okafor. This may sound dumb after all the defensive plays and big shots by the former, but if you look closely, every team that Duke has played in the tournament is really worried about Okafor. Their Defences are geared toward stopping Okafor, meanwhile Winslow, Cook and company have been wreaking havoc.

All Okafor has to do is score occasionally to throw the opposing coach into a panic.  Defensively, Okafor has also had his moments.

I praise Jahlil but I must acknowledge Winslow, who has been one of the most versatile players Duke has had in a while.  He always finds a way to contribute whether it is hitting the boards, or passing the ball.

Bermuda Bob:

You make a very astute point that seems to be lost on the media.  The simple decision of which Game Plan to develop to thwart “Oaks” flummoxes opposing coaches.  They can either try and neutralize him, or allow him to score with passing resistance, and focus on the Duke shooters.  Both have been tried and failed.

I think that without “Oaks,” the focus would be more centered on Justise.  I doubt that he would not relish the challenge, but early on this year we saw how opponents battered him, making “Hack a Shaq” more like paddy-cakes.  I am happy that, along with Tyus and Quinny, they make an impressive ensemble cast !!!

Query #5

Going forward, are there any areas where Duke needs to improve in order to win on Saturday ??? 

Rowan:

I haven’t the foggiest Idea. All I know is that I will be cheering loudly and proudly.  This team has shown a lot of resiliency, throughout the season.  If you had to ask me if Duke would be playing in the Final Four, back in January, I would not have immediately said “Yes.”

Bermuda Bob:

The biggest mistake anyone could make would be to think that they could prevail over either Michigan State or Wisconsin using the same Game Plan they used earlier this season.  Both teams have matured, and are full of highly experienced upperclassmen who have the taste of being here and having fallen. Duke does not have that aspect because everything is new to them, well, except Quinny.

In March, coaches are more important than in any other sport.  Three of the four coaches here are legends of March, and have returned to a very familiar place. Regardless of what Duke does against the Spartans or the Badgers, it will be a “must see” for every college basketball fan.

To that I simply say …

“Rock On” !!!

Thanks for Reading !!!

We would love to hear from you either here or on Twitter at:

@SimplyDukeBB

Point/CounterPoint #18 – After the 1st Big Dance Early Rounds & Going Into the Sweet 16

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell & Bermuda Bob comment on Duke’s first two outings in the Big Dance, look forward to the Sweet 16, and take a peek beyond.  Plus, they discuss the ACC’s wonderful showing, and opine on the CBS coverage …

Query #1

Duke broke into the Big Dance with a convincing win against Robert Morris.

Was there anything that stood out for you ???

Rowan:

Over the weekend I have come to understand that nothing a team accomplishes in the regular season helps them in the tournament. That is my overall takeaway. Everyone is starting from the bottom now. Marshall Plumlee had a great start with his first career Double-Double.

Jahlil Okafor seems to have given up on his Board work, but has shown incredible patience on offense.  He is quite an adept ball handler too !!!

Bermuda Bob:

First and foremost, Congratulations to Marshall “Plums” Plumlee !!! He had an excellent day, full of energy and presence. The Commentators noted that he has provided a great practice environment for “Oaks” so, to see him have the opportunity to blossom was great.

As for the team effort, it had to be a relief to everyone that Duke did not become the first #1 Seed to be beaten by a #16 Seed. Reliving the nightmares of the past.

Quinn Cook got his stroke back and everyone was able to get some floor time. Amile actually scored 10 Points, dealing out 3 Assists.

It was an outing that sent them forward with confidence that might have been bruised in the ACC Tournament.

Query #2

Duke then took on San Diego State, went out fast and maintained their lead for the whole game.

What impressed you, and what didn’t ???

Rowan:

I thought Duke could have utilised a Zone Defense against SDSU because they seemed reluctant to shoot, but the defense held up.  I had the NC State, Miami and Notre Dame losses at the back of my mind.  There, whereby, penetrating Guards hurt Duke.  Going back to my opening statement, everything has been reset. San Diego never really got a chance to hurt Duke.

Okafor was really impressive on both sides of the court. He scored at will and blocked shots.  Maybe he has been saving his best for last …

Bermuda Bob:

I think we saw a San Diego State team that was not at it’s best.  There were reports of a Flu spreading thru the team.  I hope they are better now, and I hope they did not “donate” it to the Duke kids.

Duke went out fast and scored big.  When they began to tire, the subs got the job done by maintaining what the Starters accomplished.  That is always important in the Big Dance.  Take your foot off the pedal, let in the opposition, and the tide can change quickly, shifting momentum.

Justise Winslow had a great game with 12 Rebounds – 11 of them on the Offensive Boards, along with 13 points.

Going forward, they will build on this performance as they will see different types of teams from what’s in the ACC this year.

Query #3

Duke draws a tough Utah team next.  They are a team most of us only saw this week.

What are the keys to seeing Duke prevail ???

Rowan:

Utah has been one of my favourite teams to watch outside of Duke. They play together and for each other. They have two seven footers (Jakob Poetl is a potential high NBA draft pick), they can throw at Duke plus some great versatile players in the form of Chris Reyes and Jordan Loveridge. At 6’7″ they can both play inside or out. These two have stepped up their game as Delon Wright, their best player, has seen his production tail off in recent games but he is still a threat.

One thing I noticed, against Georgetown, was that they had no answer for Josh Smith inside. That is when he decided to play on the block, which was not enough times. It was tough seeing him setting endless picks without rolling to the basket.  Okafor is a much more potent and mobile scorer than Smith.

Bermuda Bob:

Utah is another one of those teams that are not like anyone they play against in conference. They will be more physical and more roundly talented. Duke will need to play within whatever Coach K’s Game Plan turns out to be.

If the “bigs” of Utah prove to be formidable, I think a rotation of Amile, “Plums,” and Matt will be necessary. A lot of people like the idea of “Twin Towers” to draw some of the intensity that defenses play against him. Sure, it sounds good for a game in Texas, but another player who is not as much of a scoring threat will not draw defenses off “Oaks.”

If and when “Plums” gets floor time, it is imperative that he STOP those goofy looking picks, that take him way too far from the Paint.  He is rarely a threat to execute a Pick-and-Roll and opposing players know that, so, all it does is take him away from where he excels – under the basket – and allows opponents Box Out position on him !!!

I’m hoping for Duke to get out to the same type of lead they like to, then hold it so as to keep Utah on their heels. That along with stellar defense … BY EVERYONE … should get them advancing.

Query #4

Presuming Duke prevails, the consensus is that Gonzaga is their next opponent.  They are said to be Mark Few’s best team of all.

Can Duke beat them to make it to the Final Four ???

How do they do it ???

Rowan:

I want to see how Gonzaga plays UCLA before I can comment on this besides, I think Utah plays a similar game to Gonzaga, even if their “Bigs” aren’t as talented.

Bermuda Bob:

I think Gonzaga will prevail against UCLA, a team that I do not think belonged in the Field of 64.  They advanced by a Referee error to boot !!!

We are told that Mark Few has his best team this year. I believe that they will be a formidable foe. I have to trust Coach K will have some ideas on how to handle them.

I think that varying their looks, getting out to a strong start, and playing tough defense is presumed. The best way to handle teams that protect the paint well, is to constantly move the ball like Duke does so well when they go to the 4 Guard line-up.

Query #5

Duke is joined by four (4) other ACC teams still left in the Big Dance, leading all conferences.

Where do you expect everyone to be after the Regionals, going to the Final Four ???

Rowan:

Seems the ACC was much better than previously thought. I imagined when they recently added Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse this is what they had in mind. ACC won all their opening games. I didn’t think Virginia would be out this early though as NC State took out Villanova.

SEC had a down year and so did the Big 10 (compared to the last two season). Everyone thought the Big 12 was the best, but the carnage they suffered in the second round was telling. Wichita State taking down Kansas was not much of a surprise, but the way they did it most certainly was !!!

Bermuda Bob:

We knew NC State was tough from the loss to them early in the conference season, the same thing with Notre Dame and Carolina.  Louisville is a surprise and a testament to Rick Pitino for keeping that team together after all the drama. I wish Syracuse were in the Big Dance because they might have been in the Sweet 16 as well.

I can’t say I was surprised that the ACC did well, and I was curious as to why the Big 12 was expected to be “Best in Show.”  As always, you can’t count out the Big 10, especially “Mr. March” aka Tom Izzo.

NC State and Louisville will cause a net lost ACC team. Carolina will have their hands full with Wisconsin, but they are not strangers, so expect a tight game. Notre Dame will depend on their reaction to a Wichita State’s different looks, and some hot hands from their perimeter shooters.

Query #6

Duke was fortunately covered by CBS’ lead team of Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, & Jim Nantz.

What did you think of the coverage of the games ???

Rowan:

I am a hardened college basketball fan, so I don’t need Commentators to spoon feed me the game.  I rate Commentators for their ability to tell me something I did not know, and being able to blend into the background of the game.  I don’t need someone who is going to continue to show me complex plays that don’t make much sense under close scrutiny.  They are clearly being used to reinforce the Commentator’s agenda (here’s looking at you, Doug Gottlieb). Most of all, I despise constant negativity from talking heads.

These three have done a marvelous job of keeping on top of the action while being entertaining, then again when your team is winning everything smells of roses.

Bermuda Bob:

I was very pleased that CBS honoured one of the best people in college basketball by not only assigning him to the Big Dance, but also giving him a great upstart in Grant Hill.   Bill Raftery is not only accurate, concise, and brief, he is entertaining. Jim Nantz plays his omni-commentator role well. Their on-court Reporter is probably the best CBS has.

I have been very vocal in criticizing the way CBS brings in NBA people who don’t have a clue as to who’s who and what’s what. Very often I have found them misspeaking, and not even knowing who the coaches are, so I can imagine what their “cheat sheets” for the players must look like. Dressing old NBA guys who are “past it” in vested suits is like lipstick on a pig.

I have never understood why we listen to ESPN folks all season long, then when the National Championship is being determined, CBS brings in VERY substandard personnel.  After all, college basketball fans might very well be some of the most intelligent and well informed compared to some other sports.  If you think of it, we begin attempts to acquire tickets 10 months ahead of knowing who we’re going to see via the ticket lotteries.  If you’ve ever been to a Regional, you will enjoy other like-minded fans who are not necessarily there because their team is playing, but because it is simply the best college basketball can offer !!!  I’ve been there, done that, and loved every minute of it.

CBS, NBC, and ESPN all work together interchangeably for other sports like Golf and Tennis, so why not give the viewers the best ???

 

Thanks for reading.  

Please give us your comments either here or on our Twitter site @SimplyDukeBB

 

 

“After Sleeping on It …” – Duke’s Tale of 2 Very Different Games in the ACC Tournament

SDBB - Duke ZZZ'sMuch to the chagrin of Duke fans everywhere, Duke exited the ACC Tournament much earlier than anyone was happy about.

Here’s how it happened and why …

THURSDAY night, Duke met North Carolina State, a team who had embarrassed them, 87-75, at home, early on in the conference season. This time, it was Duke who would be causing the embarrassment with a 77-53 trouncing of the WolfPack.

The Box Score shows 4 Starters and 2 Bench Players scoring in double-digits, and some seriously great rebounding, led by Justise and Amile. The most interesting aspect is that “Oaks” only played 19 minutes, while “Plums” logged in 21 minutes, scoring 12 Points, and blocking 3 Shots, having his best game at Duke.

Another interesting aspect was that Duke shot only 13 times from outside the Arc, compared to 53 from inside … very much inside when you consider “Plums” logged 6 out of 6 Dunks !!!

There’s why this run-away game was so unique compared to what we would see the next night. Duke moved the ball incredibly well, always finding the free man, even if the ball was passed 4-5-6-7 times. When Duke shares the ball, they play exceptionally well. This, opposed to dumping the ball into “Oaks” and standing around, waiting for him to either score or dish out. Under those circumstances, they don’t move the ball, and are often flatfooted and detached.

On this evening we would also see the future of Duke. Grayson Allen, who had an exemplary game, banging out 12 Points with 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, and 2 Blocks. His energy and verve on both sides of the Court was great to see !!!

 

THEN there was Friday night, a night that would be the complete opposite of the previous night.

Duke came out sluggish, while Notre Dame came out with a firm, smart, and simple Game Plan. They would not double-team “Oaks” and pretty much allow him to score. Oh, they’d put up some resistance, and even foul-out their Center, but it was as if the were playing “sucker.” “Oaks” would drop in 28 Points on 8 Rebounds and a Block. Plus, his terrible performance from the Charity Stripe was exploited, as yet another team would “Poke the Oak”

The brilliance of the Game Plan was that everyone else was shut down with an excellent perimeter defense. A defense that kept Duke to 18% shooting from outside the Arc. Quinn Cook took just one shot for a Trifecta in the 1st Half, and would try only 7 more in the 2nd Half, scoring only once in total. He literally ran out of time to find his usual rhythm.

Mike Brey, a former Assistant Coach to Coach K from way back, would out-coach his mentor. His players executed the Game Plan to perfection, while Coach K could not get his players to execute anything as they did the previous night. It was a pathetic effort to say the least.

Early on, Coach K (lip read by Jay Bilas) lamented “No one wants to play tonight !!!”

After sleeping on it, it’s pretty obvious that just about every good coach in the country has realized where Duke’s Achilles Tendon is. Each of the losses so far this season were similar. There is no need to shut down “Oaks” because when you allow him to have his way, you lure the rest of the squad into a malaise that’s almost hypnotic.

Sleep-walking, or maybe sleep-standing, players do not achieve … they watch. Sure, “Oaks” is an exceptional player, but one player does not a successful team make. Duke does not have just one exceptional player, but if they are not involved, they fail. Friday night they failed.

During the game, we were lamenting the play, and especially the lack of Defense. Actually, there was no Defense. Ro made the most profound observation in our last article where he observed that: “… Duke’s idea of Defense is to outscore their opponents.”  Nary have truer words been spoken. Duke played little or no defense, and everyone else was shut out from scoring.

Warm up the Bus, it’s time to go home.

Moving forward, it appears as of this writing that Duke may have preserved it’s #1 Seed. If so, they’d most likely be playing in Charlotte. You can bet that many in the media, as well as the opposing #16 Seed coach will want to see history made by being the first to knock off a #1 Seed. Why not, Mercer and Lehigh figured it out, why not another Cinderella ???

If Coach K does not get his team to play as a total team, and that means all 8 guys, they will be warming up the bus a lot sooner again this year. This is not the way you want to go into the Big Dance, but he has 5-6 days to change how he has played these talented kids this season. It would surely be a shame if he were not able to do so.

 

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Point/CounterPoint #17 – After North Carolina & Into the ACC Tournament

SDBB - Point-CounterPoint LogoIn this installment Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob cover things after the Duke win over Carolina, have a bit of a look into the ACC Tournament, and even have a word about Kentucky … 

Query #1

Duke prevailed in their 2nd meeting with North Carolina at the Dean Dome.  This game had it’s ups and downs, with Duke coming out hard and fast, then losing their lead, and finally taking the lead for good.  

Did we learn anything we didn’t think of yet ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

When Duke came out so hot, I was I worried that they would run of gas, Coach K subbed his whole Bench, and Carolina caught up, taking the lead at the Half.  It’s pretty obvious that, while they are capable of running with anyone, they give away something when the Starters need a “blow.”   While I think they would prefer to see a more measured approach, I don’t know if it’s possible.  That concerns me with teams that have a very competent bench.

Rowan:

Duke is very resilient. Last year’s team would have given up, or lost composure, after UNC took the lead. 

Query #2

Every CBB media outlet has lit up saying maybe Duke has “peaked” at the right time.  

Do you agree ???

 Is there anything they need to work on ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I think that’s much ado about nothing.  Traditionally, Duke draws an always tough Carolina, so if they win, especially for the second time, the media lights up.  I will see how they look in the ACC Tournament in possibly three (3) straight days of play.  That’s the big test to see if they can hold up.  Of course, they will have a bit more time to recover in the Big Dance, but this week is the fire that sharpens the blade !!!

Rowan:

The thing about the Post Season Tournaments is that everyone starts at zero. Murray State was peaking at the right time when they blitzed the Ohio Valley Conference 16-0, but fell in the Conference Finals tournament to Belmont.

Duke found a way to win the Carolina game. Not every game is going to be the same especially with the stakes being raised as it is now win, or go home. No second chances. We can take comfort with the thought that they are a tight knit bunch and they enjoy playing together. Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook do a masterful job of knowing when to take over games, and when to defer to other teammates. This should well help them going forward especially if Amile Jefferson can find himself. 

Query #3

Tyus has become the newest “Little Big Man” in Duke’s long line of Guards.  Has he met or surpassed your expectations of him from back when we profiled him in October ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I believe that comparisons are usually unfaire both to the present player and the alum.  Each player has his own specific style as it relates to their team.  The biggest aspect of concern this year was how Tyus would mesh with Quinny.   Well, the skeptics have all gone silent as the pair work like bread on butter.  My favourite thing about Tyus is how he always mentions his teammates and backs it up with his floor play.  He is the guy who gets it done, regardless of how he has to do it.  Against Carolina, he matched Amile’s team-high 6 Rebounds, doled our 7 Assists, shot 50% from both outside and inside the Arc, and was 12 of 12 at the Charity Stripe to lead the team with 24 Points.   Only one other player in Duke history did things like that – Bobby Hurley.  I’m sure both Bobby and Tyus would enjoy the comparison, especially because it’s made with such fondness for both !!!

Rowan:

I knew Jones had great ball control and could pass but, coming into the season, I was worried about two things regarding Tyus Jones, his ability to finish around the basket and to shoot the basketball. He currently shoots 40% of his 3 Pointers and has no problem finishing around the basket. Plus he gets to the free throw line just under five times a game where he is shooting 88%.

Query #4

There have been plenty of wonders about why Amile was not getting minutes.  He got 31 big minutes against Carolina.  

What impression do you have after the game ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

Amile is a true leader.  As a Co-Captain, he has done whatever it took to lead, even if it was from the Bench.  In this game he played plenty and was a “garbage man,” meaning he did a lot of dirty work.  His stats will never show the hustle he showed, but he seemed to be in on every play.  Most important to me was his 6 Rebounds with 5 of them being on the Offensive Boards.  That is probably the least emphasized statistic is college basketball.  He got the job done, and that was great to see !!!

Rowan:

I understand that the reason given for his “demotion” was that he was not rebounding well, so Matt Jones was elevated to the starting line up, which made little sense. In the Carolina game we saw exactly how Jefferson affects the game with his defense. He only had 6rebounds and 3 points to show for that 31 minutes, but at the end of the game Jay Bilas had high praise for Jefferson and his defensive awareness. 

Query #5

Predictably, “Oaks” was named to the 1st Team All-ACC, Quinny to the 2nd Team, Tyus to the 3rd Team, and Justise got Honourable Mention.              No Duke player was named to the Defensive Team  

Any surprises for you ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I’m not so surprised.  Justise might have been higher had he not gotten banged-up in the middle of the season.  I also think that just having four (4) players honoured like this is sensational, regardless of which team they are named to.  On the contrary, not having anyone being mentioned to the Defensive Team is disheartening, but at the same time, profoundly honest.  Going forward, defense will be pivotal to moving forward in both the ACC Tournament and the Big Dance. 

Rowan:

I think Duke’s idea of Defense is to outscore their opponents. On a more serious note, I would only peg Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson as defensive players, but Jones’ defense has deteriorated this season and Jefferson spent more time watching ACC games than playing.

Query #6

Once again, Duke players have succumbed to foot and ankle problems.  It seems to be somewhat of a pervasive and omni-present aspect of Duke Basketball.  

In a day when uniform, footwear, and clothing manufactures seem to have a great deal of preeminence in the life of over the teams who they sponsor, do you see Nike as being responsible ???    

Bermuda Bob:

I have not laced up a pair of “sneakers” in ages, but I do know that each manufacturer’s products fit differently.  I also know that very often the manufacturers make footwear with more accent on style than performance.  They are in business to sell products, which is why Duke has a third uniform that is NOT in Duke’s official colours.  While I’m not an Orthopedist, I have to wonder about the support of the recent Nike shoes based on the injuries realized.  I’d surely be interested in a comparative analysis of ankle and foot injuries across the country by manufacturer.

Rowan:

This might be a little difficult to prove. I did see on Twitter that they might be wearing Kyrie Irving’s new shoes 

Query #7 

Kentucky has completed an undefeated season.

Are we going to talk about this ??? 

Rowan:

We should because going undefeated is an amazing feat no matter the circumstances. Some people say the SEC is weak this year, though ESPN “Bracketologist,” Joe Lunardi currently has the SEC sending 5 teams dancing, which is one less than the ACC. Florida, the one team that can be counted on to annually humble John Calipari is a long shot to make the tournament.

In good faith we must congratulate the players for having a remarkable season. Going undefeated is an achievement that cannot be taken away from them.

Bermuda Bob

Yes, Kentucky has gone undefeated and they deserve our recognition. I’m not as impressed as many fans, or most of the media. I also find it an anathema to compare them to the Indiana team of 1975-76. That team was essentially a team of “nobodies,” led by an all-time Hall of Fame coach, not a guy who has had wins vacated.

Pomeroy has their Strength of Schedule rating as 38th and 99th for it’s out of conference schedule. Their conference strength is at 5th, 6th, or 7th in the nation, dependent on who you believe.

I think Kentucky can be beaten by a team with a well-organized Game Plan, which they stick to strictly. To paraphrase Michael Corleone of “GodFather” fame: “If anything is this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you (can beat) anyone.”   I’ll put my faith in this concept.

 

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“After Sleeping on It …” – Frosh Grayson Allen Steals the Show on Duke’s Senior Night vs Wake Forest !!!

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

 

Every year, the final Home Game of the year is dedicated as Senior Night for those players graduating.  It is their last game in front of the Cameron Crazies, and a chance for all fans to thank the player(s) for their contributions.

This year, it was Quinn Cook’s night.  We wondered why Sean Kelly – a “Walk-On” in this his last year only got 2 insignificant minutes.

This game also meant something more, as a win would clinch a #2 Seed in the ACC Tournament next week.

Well, you might say that it turned into the Grayson Allen Show as he scored 19 of his 27 Points on 4 of 5 outside the Arc, 9 of 11 from inside, and 5 of 6 from the Charity Stripe.  He also logged 4 Rebounds.

Duke came out from the Tip Off with an incredible run.  At the half, they were up 55-19. This didn’t take long for the Crazies to realize that Grayson’s 19 points, alone, was enough to be beating the Demon Deacons, so they chanted “Grayson’s Winning !!!”

Indeed he was !!!   He made the best of a night when he would see 24 minutes on the floor.  He scored from all over, even tipping in an errant shot as the “bigs” flailed aimlessly.

On a night when we say “Good-Bye” to those players of the present, we saw a bright shining star beginning to glow for the future !!!

On a more somber note, ankle turns seemed to be the plaque of the night. “Oaks,” Justise, Amile, and even Quinn to a point, all experienced some sort of ankle turn. We made the observation during the game, and make it here …

Are we sure that all of Duke’s foot problems down thru the past few years cannot be tied to the Nike shoes they wear ???

Behind Grayson was Matt with 17 Points after starting off cold. Justise and “Quinny” each had 13. Justise led Rebounding with 6, and 7 Assists !!!

This was a wonderful night for the faithful, and a wonderful way to end the season at Cameron.  Saturday night caps the conference season at Carolina at 9PM on ESPN, where the next chapter in “the greatest rivalry in all of sport” will be written !!!

Thanks, Quinn !!!   Thanks, Sean !!!

 

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