SDBB: Congratulations to The Duke Blue Devils on Winning the 2017 ACC Tournament !!!

By Bermuda Bob

Congratulations are in order for our Duke Blue Devils, who, despite wearing those inappropriate black uniforms, won the 2017 ACC Tournament in Record Setting form.  No other team in ACC history has won four (4) games in a row to win the event.

Duke needed to go thru four (4) very tough opponents …

  • First was Clemson, who they dispatched 79-72 …
  • Next came Louisville, who they prevailed against 81-77 …
  • Next was the “Rubber Game” of the Best Rivalry in Sport, UNC.  They won 93-83 …
  • Last was Notre Dame, who they outlasted 75-69 …

The major aspect that was demonstrated soundly, was the fact that a healthy Duke was “peaking” at the right time after a season that saw them often disappoint causing many fans to wonder about their voracity going into the post-season.  It was indeed a wonderful metamorphosis to behold !!!

Congratulations, and Good Luck in the Big Dance !!!

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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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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 ???

 

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“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 Installment #11 – After Notre Dame & Florida State

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Today, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss the 30 Point satisfaction of the Duke win at Home against Notre Dame and the tough win at Florida State on the road … 

Query #1

After blowing out Notre Dame at home, people were expecting a bigger win over Florida State, do you think this was unreasonable ??? 

Rowan:

It is a shame that the more success Duke has, the higher the expectations. Florida State has to be given some credit here, they did something a few teams have achieved this season: Move Jahlil Okafor off the block.  Michael Ojo is 7′ tall and weighs almost 300 pounds.  When he was in the game he used his strength to push Jahlil off the block.

The Freshman scored most of his 13 points in transition, or when the Nigerian import was on the bench. Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and especially Quinn Cook picked up the slack, offensively.

Bermuda Bob:

The Notre Dame game was an excellent effort and a great shooting exhibition. It may have been a demonstration giving credence to the thoughts we have had about Rasheed being a distraction.

As for Florida State, any opponent playing in Tallahassee will find it unwelcoming with intense fan pressure, just like at Cameron. That said, one of the criticisms of Coach K’s non-conference scheduling has been his noticeable lack of true “Away” games. I think this played a part in Monday’s game. 

Query #2

How would you rate the performance of the bench ??? 

Rowan:

Marshall Plumlee did a great job of holding down the forte while Okafor sat for most of the first half with two early fouls. Grayson Allen has lost ‘his deer in the headlights’ tag as he looks a little more comfortable on the court.

Matt Jones didn’t make any of his 6 shots but had 3 big offensive rebounds.

Allen played more minutes than usual but the trust isn’t there yet as Cook and Tyus Jones played around 40 minutes a piece !!!

Bermuda Bob:

Duke went into the LockerRoom up 32-24 with “Oaks” on the Bench in foul trouble, which caused the team to pass and find the cutting player.

Matt couldn’t find the “Hole” but looked like Duke’s new Tyler Thornton.

“Plums” again contributed 10 major minutes, playing tough Defense and showing better hands on Offense.

Grayson got 11 minutes off the Bench and began to look more comfortable. Just before his time was finished, he made a monster block from nowhere, leaping even higher than he needs to Dunk. 

Query #3

Who would you give the game ball to ???

Rowan:

That would be Quinn Cook, who scored a season high 26 points. Tyus Jones is a close second registering a personal best of a dozen assists to go with 16 points and a team high 6 rebounds.  This performance sent their coach into an ‘I told you so’ mode after the game.

“Those two guards have been rock solid for me, [Jones] and Quinn,” Krzyzewski said.  “Remember when we started the year, I don’t know if you remember, but everyone’s saying, ‘How’s that going to work out ???’  Well, it’s worked out pretty darn well.

Offensively they are good.  Defensively they still need work judging by the way Florida State got back into the game, but who am I to rain on Coach K’s parade !!!

Bermuda Bob:

I agree on Quinn, but think he ought to share it with Tyus. After all, they often played off each other, as proven by the 12 Assists Tyus was responsible while none for Quinn.   

Query #4

There is a consensus that Duke is a different team since the start of the conference year, when they lost two in a row, can you see this ???

Rowan:

Their limitations are still very evident … no rim protection, or pick and roll … Defense on the perimeter is still a sieve, however they are doing a good job of covering these weaknesses.

There is also a little more bite in their bark. Against Miami and NC State, when they were taken out of the game, they just didn’t seem to have any fight in them.  Now, they go down 10 to an undefeated Virginia in the waning moments of the game, and still manage to win.  On the road, against Florida State, even though they gave up a good lead, they remained composed and held on for the victory.

I think the turnaround was at Notre Dame when they fought hard but still lost. After that game Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook have played with a lot more zest. Winslow seems to be overcoming his injury game by game.

Bermuda Bob:

Duke is a maturing work in progress. Early on, opponents had no clue how to contain “Oaks” but now every opponent seems to have a game plan for him. Now, if “Oaks” goes to the Bench, they are showing a different but very effective look thanks to good Guard play. “Plums” playing hardnosed has been a big plus. The return to form by Justise is a huge plus. Matt has seemed to have begun to be Amile’s substitute, making that Forward position hard to consistently defend.

All that said, they are not yet tournament ready, but they’re getting there.   Once again I have to wonder what the heck was going on with Rasheed that catapulted him from the team and the team into a more unified squad.   Something tells me we won’t know anytime soon !!!

Query #5

Coach K turns 68 on Friday but Jason Williams (now of ESPN) thinks he has a lot left in the tank, do you think this is possible ???

Rowan:

First of all let me wish a very Happy Birthday to our own Bermuda Bob who was born two days (albeit years later) before Coach K but has never brought this up in all the years that I have known him.

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating your own milestone.

Larry Brown who currently coaches SMU is 74 and Jim Boeheim is 70, so yes I think Coach K has another 5 years left in him if he desires it.

Incidentally Coach K’s mentor, Bob Knight, resigned from Texas Tech at 68.

Bermuda Bob:

Thanks, Ro !!!  I’m a bit younger (by 8 years) and I can tell you that it all comes down to your mind and body together cooperating with what you want to accomplish. That said, it appears that Coach K has no visible reason why he could not continue as Jay Williams notes.  He does not seem to have lost any physicality, nor a bit of his wit and presence … just ask the Reporters on the Duke “beat.”    I think that he would never stay even one day past the time when he could no longer be everything he feels he needs to be to the team, each player, the fans, and the University.

I know it sounds hackneyed, but age is just a number. When you’re doing what you love, with those you love, supported by those you love, longevity comes naturally. He will know when it’s time …

 

Thank you for reading our articles …

Please give us you thoughts on our articles either her or on Twitter at: @SimplyDukeBasketball

Point/CounterPoint #8 – After a Disappointing Performance Against Notre Dame

SDBB - Point-CounterPoint Logo

 

In this installment Ro Shiell & Bermuda Bob examine the reasons for last night’s loss to Notre Dame and what it means for their future.   

Here goes … 

Query #1

On a night where Justice Winslow, Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook and Jahlil Okafor were hot, Duke still lost. Where did it go wrong ???

Rowan:     Notre Dame did a better job of adjusting to Duke than Duke did adjusting to them. It didn’t help that Jerian Grant was playing at a premium level either !!!

Bermuda Bob:     I know it sounds blasphemous to say, but the student out-coached the Teacher. Notre Dame was more poised, passed very effectively, and took better shots, shooting 52% to Duke’s 46%. Trifectas were a wash, but Duke lost the battle at the Charity Stripe by 19%. There is your 4 Point differential in a nutshell !!!

 Query #2

What now for Duke ???

Rowan:     They lost to a very good team on the road. Grant just nailed the ACC Player of the Year award, and it is now his to lose. The Blue Devils just need a more effective defensive system that will mask their very obvious weaknesses. Notre Dame is a terrible matchup for Duke because they have quick Guards that exploit Duke’s perimeter defense and interior defense.

Bermuda Bob:     Good coaches have figured out more than one way to handle “Oaks” on Offense. His Defense is questionable. I pointed out plenty of times during the game that he just stood there as if he was afraid to be called for a Foul. Great Centers in history knew how to challenge Shooters in the Lane. He will learn that someday, but not at Duke, just as both Plumlees have !!!

I think Coach K needs to develop a simple Game Plan for each game and commit to it. I’m not too sure these kids can make complicated changes in the heat of a game.

Query #3

One of the rhetoric being floated around is that Duke is still a young team, do you think this is correct ???

Rowan:     Yes this is very true. In an ideal world Duke would take their lumps this season then come back stronger and better the following season, but with this team there is no room for that. Three Freshman have an appointment with Adam Silver in June and I don’t think they want to miss that. Here is the thing, Duke also have 3 Upperclassmen. Amile Jefferson, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon. Amile only played 17 minutes and Sulaimon was 1-of-6 on field goals. Cook played a heck of a game though.

Bermuda Bob:     OK, you asked for it !!!   Coach K has succumbed to the “one-and-done” recruit, much to my dismay. Going back to Kyrie Irving, each team has been subverted to a kid who had no intention of staying at Duke more than one season. This year, the Upperclassmen are seemingly in the minority, and possibly all 4 could be gone next year. I worry Grayson may leave, making it 4 kids in 4 years.

As far as the game is concerned, Notre Dame put one Frosh on the floor for 15 minutes. Duke was playing against 2 Seniors, 1 Junior, and 2 Sophomores, starting.   THAT is why they moved the ball so well. THAT is why they looked so much more poised. THAT is why their Defense seemed so much tougher. It’s great that the Duke kids seem to like each other and get along well. Unfortunately, they lack true cohesiveness because they have not played together long enough, and they don’t intend to any longer than they have to !!!

Query #4

Who would you appoint as Duke’s player of the game?

Rowan:     Jahlil Okafor had a great stat line (22 points, 17 rebounds) but I wish Duke would play a more inclusive game, offensively, and not rely too much on the Freshman. He played 36 minutes and was visibly exhausted as Notre Dame wore him down.

Justice Winslow made some key shots but he isn’t himself, maybe due to a current injury, but it was good to see him hitting from the Three Point Line.

Bermuda Bob:     I do not believe in awarding a Game Ball when the team loses. I think Duke’s Guards were stymied and produced mediocre stats. Matt Jones did not score well, but produced 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, and 1 Steal off the bench. Together, Quinn and Tyus had 6 Rebounds, 4 Assists, and 2 Steals. Oh, by-the-way, Matt only played 21 minutes versus 40 and 38 minutes respectively. Notre Dame’s Guard play was so tremendous, I won’t quote it !!!

I also believe that a Center’s Field Goal Percentage ought to have an asterisk because, while they are often spectacular, his shots are always in the Paint. I can’t recall the last time he shot facing the Basket. You cannot fairly compare his Shooting Percentage to the others who usually shoot facing the Basket and from distance. That’s the job assigned to “Oaks” and he does it well, but one might say he gave away the game from the Charity Stripe shooting 2 of 7.

Justise shot better with 4 of 7 from the Field and 3 of 4 from outside the Arc. It demonstrates that he is healing, and his extension is coming back. It may still be some time before we see the dynamic presence he was early on. I just hope he does not worry about being injured again. It is human nature to cower from what hurt you before.

I’m dismayed that Coach K only used “Plums” for 6 minutes. I don’t get why Amile only got 17 minutes in favour of a relatively ineffective Matt Jones and/or Rasheed. Combined, the three shot 4 of 14 with nothing from outside the Arc. If Coach was trying to accomplish something with this “rotation,” it failed !!!

Query #5

How was the officiating ???

Rowan:     No play stands out to me as overly terrible so I would say it was OK overall.

Bermuda Bob:     I made the comment during the game that the Refs were so faire that they were surely not “homers” like the Officiating Crew for the St. John’s game seemed to be.

I was dismayed to hear that Coach K complained about the physicality of the game these days. Obviously it tires “Oaks,” but it goes both ways. I’d prefer to see fewer Blocking Fouls and more Offensive Fouls.   Kids are playing less hard core Defense these days because of “ticky-tack” touch Fouls.

When so many Fouls are called – and I’m speaking about CBB in general – the Refs become part of the outcome of the game, and that is never right !!!

Query #6

Think Duke can beat Virginia ???

Rowan:     Virginia is very similar to Notre Dame but have arguably the best defense in college basketball. This game will be a make or break game for Duke.  They just played good in a game they lost now they have to play an incredibly good team.

Bermuda Bob:     Well, if I were a betting man, I’d stay away from the game. Virginia is arguably the best defensive team around and their offense is shooting 47%, 40% of their Trifectas, and 75% from the Charity Stripe.

Virginia played a Senior, 5 Juniors, 1 Sophomore, and 2 Frosh against Notre Dame, at Notre Dame, and prevailed by 6 Points !!!

I think that if Duke loses it may very well prove that they (A) they learned nothing from this game, or (B) are incapable of making the changes from what they learned from this game. Neither is encouraging.

Well, that’s it for our debate folks.  Please tell us what you think. 

Editor’s Note:   This debate took place BEFORE the news of Rasheed Su-Su-Sulaimon being released.   We did not know about it and it did not impact our debate.