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


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

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

We’d like to introduce our newest contributor, Bill Wheeler, and give our readers a chance to get to know him via his thoughts on 7 Questions, all designed to ask the question we all struggle with:  

“What the Hell is Going On at Duke ???”

Tonight, we tackle the first 3 …

Point #1:        

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

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


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

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

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

“Duke has been exclusive to Nike since 1992.”

In 2008, Duke and Nike agreed to:

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:        

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

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

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

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

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

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


Point #2:

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


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

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

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:        

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

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

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

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

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

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

Point #3:        

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


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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:        

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks for reading !!!

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

@Simply Duke BB

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

A Clear Look at Duke’s Problems after Miami Loss

Miami v Duke

Today’s Article is by Rowan Shiell

“I just have felt since Christmas that there’s something missing with our group, and I’ve said it,” said Coach Krzyzewski. “I’ve said to the press.  I’ve said it to my team, and when you’re still winning, you don’t necessarily believe it completely, but I’ve felt it since Christmas.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to change it.” 

What has changed since Christmas as to why Duke isn’t playing the same ? Is it the time off, or is it the fact that Semi Ojeleye transferred in the middle of December? Could that have anything to do with team chemistry, or is it just a big coincidence that something went missing right after Semi left ?

The difference between a very good team and team with talent is good chemistry … Something that cannot be measured. A good team has players who have a feel for each other, know their weaknesses, and compensates for it. Whereas a team with talent has a bunch of good players “who work their butts off” (see St John’s Red Storm).

Chemistry can be incredibly fleeting. Here today, gone tomorrow. That’s why a team like Miami could lose at home to teams like Green Bay, then get blown out by Eastern Kentucky, then go to Cameron Indoor Stadium to soundly end Duke’s 41 home games winning streak. A week before that, Virginia, currently ranked #2, and maybe the best playing team in the nation, needed two Overtimes to beat the Hurricanes. They are now playing great winning basketball.

While Semi was on the team, guys were fighting for playing time and staying hungry. They hustled on defense. They communicated on defense. Then someone leaves, and even if he didn’t play that much, his departure alleviated some of the uncertainty, and made players feel established. Suddenly the extra pass wasn’t being made, and that trickles down to the defense, where players stopped talking and were visibly frustrated.

If you knew you are guaranteed to play 35 minutes every game, wouldn’t it be to your best interest to take a few plays off ?

One of the reasons Semi transferred, or maybe the only reason, is that Coach K again shortened his rotation, and went to his norm of playing a maximum 8 players, leaving the Sophomore and Grayson Allen as the odd men out. Prior to Michigan State, no one was playing more than 30 minutes a game.

Everyone played but as the competition improved Coach K went with a set rotation. Even the style of play changed. Now it was mostly Post Jahlil Okafor and throw the ball into him. If he got doubled, then he threw the ball back to the perimeter. Jahlil was the main scoring option of the team. His numbers blew up to the detriment of his teammates. This is an exploitable weakness. Double team Jahlil, but let Duke shoot you out of it. Remember that victory at Wisconsin and how balanced the scoring was ?

When the season started people were saying Duke looked good, but the Offense should run through Okafor. He should touch the ball at least once on Offense. Even this writer believed that, however making the Freshman the main Offensive weapon was not an expected option, unless it was an open audition for the John Wooden award.

His teammates became complacent (Tyus Jones). No more Pick-and-Rolls. It was ball into the Post then everyone stood waiting for the ball to come back out. When it did, the receiver normally jacked a Three Pointer. That worked when they were shooting well, but Three Point Shots don’t always fall.

Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones’ Assist numbers have slowly been declining. That’s because they hardly create plays for teammates any more. Duke needs to get back to playing team ball. Play together on Offense and the cohesiveness will trickle down to the defense.

Against Miami, Fran Francsilla reported that Jim Larranaga wanted to spread the floor then beat Duke’s Guards off the dribble. As soon as one player was beaten there was no secondary defense. At times a guy had a clear path to the hoop, with enough time to update their social media status before the layup !

These are fixable problems and it is still early January.  Not to mention they are only 4 games into the ACC season.  We have to remember that Duke has one of it’s best teams in a long time. Quinn Cook is having his best season at Duke. The Freshmen, Justise Winslow, Jones and Okafor are really talented. Rasheed Sulaimon and Matt Jones are two of the best defensive guards in the ACC. Marshall Plumlee has progressed.

Amile Jefferson is one of the most versatile defenders in college basketball. Individually, these guys are exceptional in their own way, they just need to start playing together again.

Duke needed these two losses, as sometimes you have to fail in order to win, according to Michael Jordan during his Hall of Fame speech. Miami needed to hit rock bottom, getting blown out by Eastern Kentucky, to find themselves. They took a stand against Virginia then resurged against Duke.

Coach Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils are still on that journey and as soon as they collectively draw that line in the sand, they will start rising together as a team. This was never about going undefeated it’s about playing in April.

“I’m not totally surprised with us losing, not tonight, I’m just saying losing because I never felt we were a great team,”  Krzyzewski said after the Miami game. “I felt we were really a good group of kids working our butts off, winning some big games and stuff like that. But we’re not that team yet.” 


They key word here is ‘yet’ …