SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – The “Walk-On” Players – Brennan Besser & Mike Buckmire

By Bermuda Bob

“Walk On” players are guys who do not have basketball scholarships.  They are paying their way, unless they have been granted an academic scholarship, as opposed to having an athletic scholarship.

They can usually be found in their usual places, at the end of the bench.  They are often referred to as “practice players” or “bench cheerleaders.”  

Their worth to the team in immeasurable.  They practice hard each day, trying to imitate opposition players so as to prepare the Starters for the next game.  Their reward is to share the success of the team as a full member !!!

On the odd chance that they might get to play, they instantly become crowd favourites, being rooted on to score !!!

Senior Mike Pagliuca graduated, so Mike Buckmire takes his spot, wearing #51.  Brennen Besser returns for his Junior year in #53.

Here are some biographical info you might be interested in …

Brennan is a 6’5″ 180 lb. Guard from Chicago, who is said to be one of the most well-liked and respected players in the Duke locker room …

Mike is 6’2″ 172 lb. Guard from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  He was a 4 year Varsity Starter in High School, who averaged 22.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game as a Senior, serving as Team Captain.  Mike had some serious Ivy League and D-III offers after High School, but he opted for the Duke experience, so he is hoping to possibly earn a full scholarship, as Justin Robinson did this year.

A great little bit of Duke trivia is that Mike’s Dad was a member of the NCAA Championship Winning 1986 Duke Men’s Soccer Team.

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SDBB: 2016-17 Duke Player Profiles – #45, Nick Pagliuca

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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…

So here is Bermuda Bob’s Profile of #45, Nick Pagliuca …

Nick Pagliuca returns this year as a Senior.  He is 6’3” 195 lb. Guard, who has been an integral member of the Practice Squad.  His “job” is to become like the opposition the Starters will face.

Nick is embarking on his last year on the squad. In case you’re not too familiar with him, not to worry, he has only appeared in 24 games over the last 3 seasons. Let’s first get to know him, personally …

Nick hails from Massachusetts, and was a National Merit Scholar at The Milton Academy. He is the younger brother of Joe Pagliuca, who was also a “Walk-On” from 2003 thru 2006, playing in 13 games. He has continued his academic prowess as exemplified by his being named to the NABC Honours Court this year.

Nick is part of an impressive legacy of Duke Alumni. His Dad, Stephen, graduated in 1977, his brother in 2007, and his sister, Stephanie in 2013.

Nick wears the same #45 as his brother.

Dad was a JV player, back when they had such a thing. He is presently a Co-Owner of the Boston Celtics. Nick credits Kevin Garnett – when he was a Celtic – with improving his game. Thanks, too, to Dad for making the introduction.

Some might ask why a student might want to be a “Walk-On” and essentially a Practice Player, thus putting more of a draw on his time.

The answer is that he is a valuable presence at Practice, helping to hone his skills as well as those of his teammates. He is well respected for those contributions, just like so many “Walk-On” players have been before him …

… and like most “Walk-On” players before him, he is a fan favourite, especially with his family connection to Duke.

As a fellow Italian, I would like to correct his official Duke profile by noting that his name is correctly pronounced: “Pai-yook-a”   The “l” is silent !!!

Rock On, Nick !!!   We’ll be rooting for you this season !!!

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Thanks for reading !!!

Watch for our next introduction tomorrow …

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 ???

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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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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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CountDown to “CountDown …” – Nick Pagliuca

This Article by Bermuda Bob

Simply Duke Basketball - Player Profiles - Nick Pagliuca Collage

Today, we profile Duke’s #2 “Walk-On” on this year’s Squad. He is the 6’3” 195 lb. Guard, Nick Pagliuca.

Nick is a Sophomore and embarking on his 2nd year on the squad. In case you’re not too familiar with him, he played more than sparingly last year, but makes a big impact as a Practice Player. Let’s first get to know him, personally.

Nick hails from Massachusetts, and was a National Merit Scholar at The Milton Academy. He is the younger brother of Joe Pagliuca, who was also a “Walk-On” from 2003 thru 2006, playing in 13 games.

Nick is part of an impressive legacy of Duke Alumni. His Dad, Stephen, graduated in 1977, his brother in 2007, and his sister, Stephanie in 2013.

Nick wear the same #45 as his brother.

Dad was a JV player, back when they had such a thing. He is presently a Co-Owner of the Boston Celtics. Nick credits Kevin Garnett – when he was a Celtic – with improving his game. Thanks, too, to Dad for making the introduction.

Some might ask why a student might want to be a “Walk-On” and essentially a Practice Player, thus putting more of a draw on his time.

The answer is that he is a valuable presence at Practice, helping to hone his skills as well as those of his teammates. He is well respected for those contributions, just like so many “Walk-On” players have been before him …

… and like most “Walk-On” players before him, he is a fan favourite, especially with his family connection to Duke.

Rock On, Nick !!!

We’ll be rooting for you this season !!!