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 !!!  

We welcome you comments either here on on our Twitter site at:

@SimplyDukeBB

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Simply Duke Basketball – Point/CounterPoint: Considering Rasheed Sulaimon’s Future

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In this Installment of Point/CounterPoint, Bermuda Bob and Rowan Shiell discuss Rasheed Sulaimon’s possible future options.  

Query #1

Rasheed has steadfastly denied that he committed a sexual assault.  He has been continued as a student in good standing at Duke and is on track to graduate in August.  Do you think he can put this behind him and reach his dream of the NBA ??? 

Bermuda Bob

I was happy to see that he was allowed to continue his education, which he has, and will graduate in August with a valuable Duke Diploma.  I think this has been the smartest way for him to proceed.  As for the NBA, he was a projected 1st Round choice as a Freshman, and if he falls with the right programme, and plays with the intensity he did as a Frosh, he’ll get his chance someday.

Ro:

Everyone loves a redemption story and Sulaimon still has time to right his life, but don’t get it twisted, the damage is done. Once you are tagged with sexual assault that never leaves you. The worst of it is he never had his day in Court. It’s not like Chris Jones (of Louisville) did recently when a Grand Jury cleared him of all charges.

Then there is Coach K, who has remained silent in all this. Sure Duke nor Coach K may be able to comment on private proceedings, but he could clear up why he dismissed Sulaimon. Was it as the player stated – he got frustrated and allowed his contempt to manifest itself in a negative way – or was it due to the allegations ??? Being the first player that the legendary coach has dismissed, publicly, has got to sting too.

So much food for thought here. Did Coach K realise that he had a championship team on his hand and cut all ties (in the ESPN story it stated that Sulaimon texted Coach K three times since being dismissed but there was no mention of a reply) to a distraction ??? Normally a coach would publicly say something along the lines of “we wish him well in his future” but not in this instance.

Something must have happened after that first Notre Dame loss, after which Sulaimon got his walking papers. In time we will find out. These things always find a way to make its way to the public.

As for the NBA, Sulaimon will have to land in the right situation for that to happen. He is a Senior who got dismissed by the Current USA coach after two lackluster seasons. Putting all emotions aside, Maryland would be the perfect team for him to make a resurgence, but he should probably not expect the set of Duke fans wishing well to support him in this choice.

Query #2

Regarding Rasheed’s steadfast denial, there was never any complaint filed with Law Enforcement, so do you have any thoughts on the “charges” ??? 

Bermuda Bob

I was very uncomfortable with the overly sweeping restrictions that Title IX put on universities.  When the law was announced, everyone was led to believe that it was nothing more than forcing schools to provide girls teams where there were none.  Obviously, the law snuck in plenty to swing the pendulum against equality, and it contributed plenty to this episode.  To this day, the “accuser(s)” have not been identified, nor have they filed formal complaints with anyone.  Someone who refused to step forward, and have the intestinal fortitude to make her “charge” public has besmirched a high profile athlete forever.  Rasheed’s Constitutional Rights to be able to face his accuser(s) have been denied.   Whenever one reads his biography, it will always mention this unfortunate matter.  Title IX has facilitated a faceless person, and Rasheed will forever be maligned.

Ro: 

Initially, I was of the opinion that yes he should be given his day in Court to face his accusers but after reading about Darrell Williams, who was recently cleared of groping two OSU students back in 2012, I am not so sure. Williams was given a Plea Bargain which guaranteed that he would have been back in an OSU uniform immediately, but turned it down, even though everyone told him he should take the deal, only to see himself convicted and sentenced for a crime he felt he did not commit.

Sulaimon should learn to appreciate this second chance he has been given, keep his head down, his nose clean, and carry on with his life.

Query #3

Rasheed has also noted that the allegations of sexual assault did not play a role in his dismissal.  Since the season is over, and Rasheed will be playing elsewhere next year, what do you think he is referring to ??? 

Bermuda Bob

The funny thing is that we were all wondering what put Rasheed in Coach K’s “doghouse” going back to his Sophomore year when he arrived back at Duke, presuming he was going to be continuing as a Starter.   We noted that there was a lot of inconsistencies in the official reasonings made by Duke.  Then, he was set down in his Junior year on the bench.  The sexual assault “charges” fit the reasoning for his dismissal, but I always thought it was because he was not taking being subverted very well.  I know that if it were me, I’d have a very hard time dealing with being subverted to a Freshman recruited behind me, especially after a great Freshman year.  I can only work with what we know.

First, Rasheed claims that Coach K read the official Duke Release to him, and that was it.  I take that as Coach K having to walk a thin line regarding Title IX, but more so that he may have been struggling with having to dismiss his first player ever.

Secondly, we have the recollection of how energized the Duke team was after his dismissal, and how the rally cry of “8 is Enough” worked for them so well.

Somewhere in between those points is the truth.  The good thing is that everything seems to be have shaken out in as positive a way as it could.  Duke won a National Championship, Rasheed will graduate, and he controls his future.

Ro: 

Some people have speculated that Duke must have known about the story being about to break, so cut all ties with the player. This is pure speculation because we knew that prior to the dismissal, Sulaimon was not playing right. In the two early season losses to Miami and NC State, he was 9-of-26 on Field Goals. His body language was very negative and he had become a “gunner.”

In the Notre Dame game he took 6 Shots and made one in 12 minutes of action. Before this, he was averaging just over 20 minutes per game. Coach K did the right thing benching him. What happened leading up to the press conference informing us of the dismissal is anyones guess. Just know this Coach K was right to bench him.

Query #4

There are a number of schools that seem to believe that he can play a valuable role with them.  Ironically one is former ACC rival, Maryland, another is Bobby Hurley’s new Arizona State, then Memphis, Baylor, and Texas A&M.  

Where do you think he fits best and why ???

Bermuda Bob

Rasheed is a known commodity when his head is in the right place.  He needs to go someplace where his leadership both in the Locker Room and on the Court will be optimized, that is presuming he can resurrect the guy we knew a few years ago.  I don’t know who needs him most, but if Bobby Hurley or Mark Turgeon is interested, he will have a tough choice as both coaches can give Rasheed the chance to contribute right away.  The other schools mentioned can’t do that …

Ro: 

As I pointed out earlier Maryland has a strong team that should contend in the Big Ten, next season. They will be a projected to the Final Four with Sulaimon. Melo Trimble is back, and with Diamond Stone’s commitment, Sulaimon will give them some toughness that graduated with Dez Wells.

He should stay away from Memphis. Too many talented players have gone there and disappeared during Josh Pastner’s time there. The other options are viable. NC State might even be a very good fit with Trevor Lacey recently entering the draft, that is if he is allowed to attend another ACC school. 

Query 5

In the ESPN Article Sulaimon was asked why he did not transfer and he had this to say: I wanted to be at Duke,” he said. “I dreamed about it my whole life. Even though I was frustrated, I wanted to be at Duke. My parents didn’t raise a quitter.”

Is it considered quitting to leave when the coach’s vision and yours do not align ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

Well, if they were asking why he didn’t transfer immediately, that’s easy … He understood the value of a Duke education, plus he would then need to sit out a year. If he continued with his studies, he could fully matriculate, and then be eligible to play some place else next year.

If the question was about what happened to him when he returned to Duke for his Sophomore year, then I have to believe Coach K must have either sweet-talked him, or challenged him to get his spot back.

Personally, even though Duke just won a National Championship in a very un-Duke way, I can’t imagine what must go thru a kid’s head when he sees a Freshman recruited to a position he earned the previous year. I know I would not want to see it happen to my son !!!

It has to be noted that Rasheed was not the first kid who had to deal with being subverted to a Frosh. Coach K allowed it to happen first with Kyrie Irving, then Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers, then Jabari Parker, and then this year. We could get into a long conversation about the morality and ethics of doing this, but unless and until the “one-and-done” is eradicated, this type of stuff will remain.

I’m glad Rasheed will get a second chance, it is up to him to turn heads, change minds, and change his destiny. I wish him well, and will be rooting for him. 

Ro:

Rasheed said he spoke with Coach K and his parents after his Freshman season, then went back to college. I wonder what Coach K said to him then to make him come back ?!? Anyway after looking at a projected 1st Round selection in the NBA Draft, it would have been a severe blow to transfer and sit out a year before playing again.

I understand that but what’s the alternative ??? Working your butt off only to see your minutes go to someone else then becoming disgruntled and even worse … disgraced nationally ??? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but sometimes the hardest decision is the best decision.

Rasheed wasn’t the only player affected by Coach K’s new recruiting strategy. Quinn Cook had to suffer through his demons. After returning as the leading scorer, his Junior season, he wasn’t even made a Captain or a designated Starter. Cook dismissed transfer options and became a Starter and a leader. Then his Senior season, he saw the arrival of Tyus Jones to take his Starting spot. No problem. Cook became a very serviceable and valuable component on a championship team.

Will that help Cook as a professional ??? Has he sacrificed millions for this ??? At this point we can’t say, but he is now a Champion and will graduate from Duke.

Sulaimon’s immaturity and frustrations may have gotten the best of him, however he still can make things right.

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A Very Special “Thank You” to “Zoe in England” (@9erDevilBlazer) for this great piece of artwork to celebrate Rasheed’s time at Duke …

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Thanks for reading !!!

As always, we welcome your comments either here or at our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

Simply Duke Basketball: “In the Matter of Rasheed Sulaimon …”

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 The purpose of this article is to attempt to put a perspective on what is presently known about the Rasheed Sulaimon case,as it relates to the team, the university, and the law.

As we all recall, Rasheed was dismissed from the Duke Basketball Team on January 29th with a statement from Coach K that everyone has seen multiple times.  Here is the complete statement:  

“Rasheed has been unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program.  It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner.  After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program.” 

Immediately, social media lit up like a Christmas tree with strobe lights.  In our “Point/CounterPoint Installment #4 – The Curious Dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon,” we dove into the fray.  We encourage you to review it, as we believe we made some observations that were interesting at the very least. There is widespread speculation on many fronts within the media, so while there are plenty of facts yet unknown, there are a few things which ought to be part of anyone’s judgment of what has already happened.  As every media outlet has relied on The Duke Chronicle, so shall we.

  1. Common Ground: This is a four (4) day “retreat” where the students are encouraged to discuss, in order to be assisted in dealing with, issues from race to gender to sexuality to socioeconomic Status.  These are held every Semester with 56 students chosen from a pool, presumably of students who volunteer to participate.
  1. Allegation #1: In an October, 2013 session, the 1st student made the allegations of “sexual assault” is made and confirmed by three (3) other participants who were present.
  1. Allegation #2: In a February, 2014 session, a 2nd student reports being “sexually assaulted” and is confirmed by four (4) participants present.
  1. “Anonymous Affiliate” This is a former “affiliate” of the basketball program who was with the team throughout Rasheed’s career.  This “affiliate” became aware of the allegations made and spoke to the 1st female student in January, 2013 … and … the 2nd female student in March, 2014.

This same “affiliate” brought the allegations to the team Psychologist, Coach K, and his coaching staff. This same “affiliate” then claims that school Administrators were made aware of allegations.  They include the Deputy Director of Athletics and Operations, the Director of Basketball Operations, the Vice President and Director of Athletics, and the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs. 

  1. Reports of Allegation: There were no reports by either of the students alleging “sexual assault” to neither the school, nor the Durham, North Carolina Police, either directly after the alleged event, or up to this point.
  1. Rationalizations: It is reported, by the “affiliate” that both the students making the allegations of “sexual assault” feared backlash by the Duke fan base.  Therefore, neither has filed a formal complaint with the school’s Office of Student Conduct.

Had an investigation been conducted, a disciplinary hearing would have been convened, the appropriate recommendations of findings made, and discipline meted out. As the students filed no complaints, you would think that the issue might tragically have ended. You would be wrong !!! 

  1. Title IX: We have all heard of this monumental Federal Legislation that had far reaching affects in their requirements of all universities.   Many thought it was only a mandate on female sports programs, but it went much, much further. Title IX mandates that ALL allegations of “sexual assault” MUST be looked into.  The Duke Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Sue Wasiolek, maintains that as long as the party’s names are reported, her office must investigate.  Furthermore, keeping all information confidential in compliance with the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). This is regardless of the student filing of a formal complaint.
  1. “Rape” A Senior named Lincoln Wesley, a former Secretary in the Duke Basketball office, and Intern to the Office of News & Communication was made aware of allegations on 21 January 2015.  A fellow intern, claiming to be “best friends” with one of the students alleging a “sexual assault” by Rasheed, is the first to use the word “rape.”  Further comments revealed a fear of what was called the “power” of the men’s basketball program on campus.
  1. Administration Informed: In a very odd move, Wesley reports the hearsay to his superior, the Duke Administrative Assistant to Duke Basketball. Wesley had been there for over three (3) years. The Deputy Director of Athletics & Operations, Mike Craig requested Wesley come back in, met with him, and advising him of the proper protocol in such matters. Wesley reports that essentially the Administration, right down to Coach K knew of the allegations – quite presumably from the report to the Duke Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs after the revelation at one or both of the Common Ground “retreats.”
  1. Information Blackout: That essentially means that, under Title IX, no Duke employee of any kind is allowed to speak of anything having to do with the alleged event(s).  They are prohibited from disclosing anything, regardless of whether the student files formal complaints or not.

So, to set the record straight, Coach K is an employee of Duke University. That means he is bound by both the Rules and Regulations of the University, but also of the Title IX and FERPA mandates. As an employee, he had no latitude in how to handle the situation. He was bound by Title IX and FERPA restrictions mandating privacy.

  1. Rasheed’s Dismissal:  On 29 January 2015, Rasheed is dismissed after the previous day’s loss to Notre Dame.  His last shot in a Duke uniform was a dunk after a steal.  He played just 12 minutes. He remains a student in good standing at Duke who apparently is continuing his matriculation.
  1. Rasheed’s Silence:     As expected, Rasheed has, as they say on TV only, “lawyered up” and will undoubtedly maintain his silence.  It is presumed that he has been made aware of the allegations and the actions of the Duke Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Sue Wasiolek, who is charged with investigation of Title IX matters.
  1. Complaints: It must be pointed out that, as of this writing, no report of formal Complaints have been filed with the school, nor the Durham Police.  That means that there is no evidence in these matters, nor has there been any student that has provided anything but what is legally referred to as “hearsay.” Unless and until a formal Complaint is filed with the Police, it is our understanding that, under Title IX, the name of the student(s) may never be revealed.

So, here is what we have learned:

A.   We have members of the faculty of Duke University conducting these Common Ground “retreats,” where, on each of two (2) different occasions, a student spoke of a “sexual assault” by Rasheed Sulaimon.

B.   Those faculty members would have assuredly informed their superiors of the allegations in compliance with Title IX, regardless of the wishes of the student making the allegations, also in compliance with Title IX.  This means sometime in October, 2013.

C.    This corresponds when Rasheed has seemingly lost his place as a Starter on the basketball team, a guy who had started in 33 of 36 games as a Frosh.   Rumours swirl in the basketball community that he allegedly reported to school “out of shape,” even though he had played on the FIBA Under-19 Championship.

D.    Then there was the veiled and troubled comment by, then teammate, Tyler Thornton. “As a man, he has to step up and accept what he needs to do,” Thornton said. “We need him. That’s all I can really say about that.” While on face value, it seems to be basketball related, and very well might have been, it could be indicative that Thornton (and the team) knew of the investigation. It could explain plenty about their performance.

Imagine, if you will, what type of mental and emotional conflicts Coach K would have been having at that time.  He was required by Title IX and FERPA to continue with “business as usual” while knowing of the allegations from other Duke higher-ups, but not being able to talk about them, even to Rasheed !!!

Then to hear of a second report, but STILL not being able to react about it !!! Apparently, the powers-that-be at Duke found it necessary, after the precipitous spread of information, to allow Coach K to dismiss Rasheed.

Disclaimers & Comments:

We also do not condone “sexual assault” in any form. 

We have put certain terms in italics because they are terms that have different connotations to different people.  Italics are also used when a terminology or title is not specifically defined.  Our purpose is not to presume nor imply innocence or guilt. That is an issue reserved for a Court of Law.

While Coach K is prohibited from commenting, we now understand why no further comment on Rasheed has been forthcoming.  In one way, it must be a relief, a relief that has been manifested in a winning streak since Rasheed was dismissed.

In closing, we hope that this will somehow, someway dissuade those who feel it necessary to immediately look to decry, denounce, and discredit Duke University and Coach K.   They all have been required to walk a tightrope due to Federal Law mandates, while no formal complaint of any kind has yet been filed.

Thank you for your time in digesting our article.  

As always, but particularly regarding this matter, we welcome your comment both here and at our Twitter site:

 @SimplyDukeBB

Point/CounterPoint #16 – After the 2nd Syracuse Game

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In today’s installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob cover the 2nd Syracuse game of the season at Cameron.  Then, looking forward to Wednesday’s Senior Night, they take a look at Quinn Cook’s 4-year progression into the player and leader he is today …

 

Query #1

It may have begun to sound like an echo, so instead of asking what we learned about this squad, let’s ask it differently after this game …

Is there anything that surprised you about this game ???

 Bermuda Bob:

I think we’ve learned as much as we can so far when it comes to everyone’s potential.  The only surprise might be the reason why Coach K is not utilizing Amile.  He played only 14 minutes and we are not hearing a reason for it.  As I’ve noted before, Coach K claims not to have a “dog house,” so if I had one question for him right now, I’d ask why Amile – an upperclassman Co-Captain – is not playing more.

Rowan:  

Matt Jones shooting 3-of-5 on three pointers was a pleasant surprise, especially on a night where Quinn cook was off. Jones shoots 38% from downtown on the season and seems to have emerged from a shooting slump back in December. I had all but given up hope of him becoming a confident long distance bomber. Whenever he shoots he seems to over think it. You can see that tiny hesitation, as if he is having an internal debate on whether to shoot or pass, most times when he shoots. This was evident in this game, as it was just catch and release.

I would rather see Jones shoot. It’s not the prettiest of shots, then dribble penetrate because he definitely needs to work on finishing around the basket, or stop over penetrating.  

Query #2

In the last game, “Oaks” and Rakeem Christmas went toe-to-toe and “Oaks” got the better of him.  This game they pretty much played each other statistically even, but Rakeem fouled out with about 10 minutes left in the game.  

Was this match-up as cut-and-dry as the previous one ???

Bermuda Bob:

You will recall how complimentary “Oaks” was after the 1st game.  I thought Christmas came out at “Oaks” trying to come out on top, but he got more than he bargained for from “Oaks” on Offense.  “Oaks” logged 7 Rebounds on each side of the Court for a total of 14.  Some of those Offensive Rebounds were converted to scores on “put-backs” others he got out to the perimeter with a new Shot Clock.  I also think that with Christmas having his hands full, he drew help which opened up Justise on the other side of the Paint.   To borrow a golf term, it was the perfect “ham-and-egg” situation.

Rowan:

Yes Rakeem Christmas strength is Posting Up then shooting over either shoulder. Sadly for him, that is Okafor’s strength as a defender. You can get the better of Okafor in pick and roll situations, but to trying to “out big” him is a definite no-no. Okafor’s only let down in this game is shooting 1-of-7 on Free Throws.

I had read a comment on a Syracuse blog that said if Christmas came into this game thinking that he needed to out do Okafor, then Syracuse would lose big. I think that was indeed the case.

Query #3

Justise “The Chief” Winslow is back in early season form and had a super game.  Presuming he gets the Game Ball, who was the unsung performer in this game ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I declared “The Chief” my favourite player this year. I think he combines all the great assets of Grant, Shane, Kyle, and Lance.  Once he puts that seemingly emotionless “game face” on, he’s an exciting player to watch on both ends.

As for the “unsung performer” in this game, I’d say it had to be Matt.  He shot 3 of 5 from outside the Arc, and 3 of 7 from inside.  His Defense is getting better every game, especially since he is getting more and more time on the floor.

Rowan:

Justise Winslow is coming into his own, and I suspect that is why Amile Jefferson is playing less. Winslow had a great game and so did Jahlil Okafor.  Matt had a good shooting night, and he also kept Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije in check but my unsung hero is going to be Quinn Cook. Why would I chose a guy that only made I of 8 Three Point attempts ???

Well, because on a bad night he kept shooting. At this Point it is no secret that Quinn Cook’s shooting is a valid part of Duke’s attack. He was off but he had the presence of mind to keep at it. The last thing Duke needs is Cook losing his confidence. He still found a way to score 17 points and did not miss any of his 6 Free Throw attempts.

Query #4

If there is a statistic that is of concern, it’s Free Throws Made.  Duke, as a team is averaging 68.4% with “Oaks,” who is only shooting 52.5%, and 72% without him.  

Going into post-season play, does this concern you ???

Bermuda Bob:

Every time “Oaks” has an outing like this one, 1 of 7 from the Charity Stripe, my wife asks what his problems are, and I go thru the reasons most “Bigs” have problems.  It’s simple, being so tall and with such a wingspan, they finish their standard shooting motion much closer to the height of the rim than we shorter folks do.  Yes, paying attention in Geometry class paid off, who would have ever thunk it ???

I don’t think many basketball fans today will recall Rick Barry.  As an NBA player, he shot somewhere in the vicinity of 92% from the Line … UNDERHANDED !!!   While Barry is a bit shorter at 6’7″ who could argue with such proficiency ???  His reasoning is that it is a much simpler motion which anyone can master quickly, even though Wilt Chamberlain (who actually used the method) and Shaq both thought it made them look like “sissies” !!!

Going into the post-season, what would happen if his missed Free Throws were pivotal in a game and cost Duke a win ???  I’d give it a try if I were he, even if it were just as a diversion.

Rowan:

I think this might be a blessing in disguise. Okafor has one too many holes in his defensive repertoire to stay on the court, in end-of-game situations. So, this may force him to the sidelines.  The problem is his likely replacement and a much better defender, Amile Jefferson, is also a terrible Free Throw shooter.

However, there is the silver lining: with this issue. Duke is currently 26-3. Games don’t suddenly change in March, aside from the win-or-go-home mentality. They have won all these games with this flaw maybe they can continue to win like this. So long as the ball is in Tyus Jones’s or Quinn Cook’s hands, both are shooting around 90%, Duke will be fine.

In this game both made all eight of their attempts.

Query #5

Grayson Allen and “Plums” got single digit minutes but seemed to be on the floor longer than that.  Otherwise, Amile got 12 minutes.  In a game that was won pretty much in the 1st Half, does it disappoint you that these guys did not play longer ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I know we discuss that having the smaller, but better shooting Matt Jones on the Floor often gives Duke a scoring edge over Amile, but I’m having trouble seeing Amile – a Junior Co-Captain – only getting 12 minutes in a game.  I don’t get it and think there HAS to be something going on that we are not being allowed to be privy to.

That said, I like the energy and grit Grayson brings to the team.  Even with a modicum of more minutes has payed off in his honing his level of comfort on the Floor.    Unfortunately, the adrenaline was flowing a bit to much for “Plums” who came in like a ‘house-on-fire” and got called for two quick Fouls.  I’m sure he earnestly wants to make an impact, but Saturday was not his day.  I think such verve is what happens to a guy who has all the tools, but has never really played substantive minutes.  He’s been recruited over, even after he accepted a Red Shirt year.  I’d like to say he ought to get more minutes, but “Oaks” is going to be needed on the floor, making “Plums” odd man out.

Rowan:

The frustrating thing about college basketball is knowing that how we see the game is not how it is played, or at least how the coaches see the game.  We don’t know what their agenda is, most times, aside from winning the game.  We know Coach K likes to trust his Starters. As we are in March now, there is no time for experiments.

At this point, Jefferson, Plumlee and Allen are the bench and will continue to do so unless something drastic happens.

Query #6

Wednesday is Senior Night against Wake Forest, and that means Duke gets to honour Quinn Cook, the only Senior.  Is this now an achievement, getting to Senior year at Duke, considering that most of this class have been subverted by Freshmen ??? 

Rowan: 

The 2011 class brought in 5 players and only one made it to Senior Night.  Four years later, Marshall Plumlee Red Shirted and has another year of eligibility.  Two players, Alex Murphy and Michael Gbinige transferred.  The third player, Austin Rivers is currently in the NBA.

The next class of 2012 was Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson. 50% of that class has already left, and Matt Jones is the only player left from the 2013 class of three.

Currently, Grayson Allen is the only player expected back from a 2014 class of four.

Duke is no stranger to early departures, but the majority have always made it to their Senior year. This year Coach K had his first outright dismissal for a non academic reason.

The question we should be asking is: “Are these one year players really worth the hassle considering the results ???  

Right now it is on Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow to show us that this is a worthy cause. Five years ago when Duke won the National Championship, the major contributors were upperclassmen.

In the mean time we should celebrate Quinn Cook’s renaissance season. He has been the main link between the last several classes where Duke has had some bad Post-Season results.  He may have taken the blame for some of it, although it should never have been on him.  He was the leading returning scorer coming into last season when the game was given to first year players, Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. Cook didn’t once publicly acknowledge this demotion, but by season’s end showed Coach K that he made a mistake when he discounted the Point Guard at the start of the season.

Still, it didn’t stop Coach K from bringing another Point Guard whose ranking demanded that he be a starter. Still, Cook hung around where another player, more than likely, would have transferred. Now he is one of Duke’s most important players on a team 26-3.

That’s how you persevere.

Bermuda Bob

I think the “one-and-done” recruit is an anathema on college basketball.  Many have begun to agree with people like myself who saw the deleterious affects it has had. It devalues the place of education in a young man’s life.   Many players worry that they ought not risk injury by staying in college any more than they have to. The truth be told, many play only about three years and are gone.

Coach K has embraced the “one-and-done” recruits this year and attempted to stuff 3 or 4 years into one. Of course, he’s right-minded, but it’s also impossible. No player can ever be the prayer he can be after 4 years with a coach like Coach K. Inasmuch as the present climate of college basketball is concerned, having ” … to be in it to win it …” is disconcerting, and I hope things change so coaches can keep players thru full matriculation.

Quinn is a rare commodity as a 4-year Senior and the celebration of that on Wednesday night is an important one to highlight. So, Congratulations, Quinny !!!

Your point about Alex, Mike, and Semi … even “Plums,” is one that bothers me greatly. No coach ought to ever recruit a kid he does not think is capable of playing. All of those guys should have been told, early on, if they were not going to be used. Hiding behind the “practice hard” mantra is “baloney” !!!

Accordingly, I believe that players leaving for the reasons Alex, Mike, and Semi had, ought not be made to sit out a year if their talents are desired elsewhere. Restrictions would need to be stern, but not unrealistic.

A scholarship has always been intended to avail a student an opportunity at an education he might not otherwise be afforded. The “barter” is his athletic talents. If the school is not interested in utilizing his talents, then he ought to be able to leave and start over elsewhere, not be penalized for violation he could never commit.

So, with all those behind him, I wish Quinny all the best opportunities in the future … that’s only after he leads Duke to a National Championship to put the crown on his 4-year efforts !!!

 

Thanks to our Readers !!!

We look forward to your comments, here, or at our Twitter site @SimplyDukeBB

Point/CounterPoint #15 – After the Virginia Tech Game

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Today, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob cover the surprising Virginia Tech game, “Oaks,” Amile, “Quinny,” and Saturday’s visit by Syracuse to Cameron.   Here we go:

Query #1

The usual question just has to be asked, so here goes:  

What did we learn about this Duke team from their performance against Tech, or maybe the lack thereof ???

Rowan:

Nothing new was learned. Duke has no Rim protection and perimeter defense can lapse at times.  We also learned, or it was reinforced, that Quinn Cook is a very resilient fellow.  He will fight until the Final Whistle and has silently become Duke’s MVP.

Bermuda Bob:

Well, I’m of the opinion that we can never be too sure which Duke team shows up.  As many folks who do not get ESPN3 lamented, we did not get to see the game until the 1st Half was almost over.  Expecting to find Duke blowing out a 2-12 Va. Tech, we were flabbergasted !!!   Once again, as you have pointed out so many times, it seemed that Duke was playing down to the level of it’s competition.  Then, all of a sudden they awoke and realized they were in danger of losing.  Fortunately, it was in time, but just in the nick of time !!!

Query #2

“Oaks” had a career high of 30 points and 7 of his 9 Rebounds were on the Offensive Boards.  

Does it matter that neither he, nor anyone else, did not log a “double-double” ???

Rowan:

I can’t understand how he can be so nimble on the Offensive end and much less so on Defense. There is no set goal for anyone to achieve a “double-double” every game, at least none that I am aware of.

Bermuda Bob:

I agree that there is no goal of a “double-double” but the media seems obsessed with it. I think if you look at the stellar shooting of Va. Tech. you will realize the cause for so few Defensive Rebounds.  There simply were not many Rebounds to be had !!!  As a matter of fact, this was the worst Defensive Rebounding outing of the season for Duke. Of course when most of your opponent’s shot are going in, there just ain’t many Defensive Rebounds out there to be had !!!

Follow up Query:

What do you think of this tweet by @JeffBorzello, one of ESPN’s CBB Recruting Insiders ??? 

“If Jahlil Okafor has a chance to go against the defensive version of himself, he would score 50 points a game.”

Rowan:

Yikes !!! They have discovered Duke’s worst kept secret.

Bermuda Bob:

Ha !!! It would be more fun to see what would happen if “Oaks” were able to double-team himself, since he is more often double-teamed than not.  That could be the next version of “Twilight Zone” (CBB version) !!!

Query #3

Quinn Cook scored 26 Points on 6 of 11 from outside the Arc and 8 of 13 otherwise, plus 4 of 6 from the Charity Stripe.

Coach K sez he’s a 1st Team All-Conference Player.  

How does his continued performance compare to other Guards in this year’s class ???

Rowan:

When I hear First Team All-Conference only two names immediately spring to mind, Jerian Grant (17ppg, 6.6apg) and Malcolm Brogdon (14ppg 4rpg and 3 apg).  How does Cook compare to these guys ???

Duke’s lone Senior averages 16 Points, 3 Rebounds and as many Assists, but in the last 5 games he has failed to score over 20 Points only once, and that was a 17 Point game performance at Syracuse. 

Of the listed players only Jerian Grant plays as many minutes for his team (36 mpg) as Cook does for Duke.  As the Blue Devils are now second in Conference Standings and with Virginia’s players neutralizing each other, I think that First Team All Conference is a lock for Cook but he should have higher ambitions than that.  We should probably be discussing Cook as the Conference Player of the Year.

Bermuda Bob:

I think the knee-jerk voting will allow “Oaks” to sweep as many non-specific awards as possible. Of course, “Quinny” ought to be in line for the Bob Cousey and Jerry West Awards for exceptional Guard play.  I sincerely hope that consideration be given to the level of competition in the conference, as opposed to someone who is simply a shooter.

Query #4

Amile only played 14 minutes.  He logged in 6 Rebounds, 3 on each side of the Court.  He also blocked a shot and had an Assist, yet most of his minutes went to Matt, and a few to “Plums” and Grayson.

Coach K sez he has no “dog house” so what do you think is going on with Duke Co-Captain ???

Rowan:

I haven’t seen any egregious mistakes on the court from Jefferson, at least nothing worse than any other player.  DukeBasketballReport has tracked each player’s minutes before and after Rasheed Sulaimon, and Jefferson is the only player playing less.  They attributed this to Coach K playing a smaller lineup more often.  This doesn’t make that much sense because Jahlil is playing 33 minutes, so maybe they mean a smaller line up with the big fellow. Justise Winslow has been very effective at the “four spot,” has been hitting the boards hard, so maybe Coach K likes exploiting that mismatch.

Jefferson’s Free Throw shooting leaves a lot to be desired, but right now he is Duke’s best pick and roll defender among the “Bigs.”  Whenever he switches on to a Guard, it is not considered a mismatch with those long arms !!!  He is still an effective Low Post scorer and an above average Rebounder.

Do you remember how they beat Louisville ???  That was a beautiful game with Jefferson being effective in the High Post or around the Free Throw Line, and Okafor in the low post.

The man in the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 Zone will be important.  It may be Jefferson, but more likely Winslow, but just know either can be effective.

Bermuda Bob:

OK, it’s time for some truth.  Even though Amile has the second highest scoring average among Starters, he is not the greatest scoring threat.  He is more likely to score on a “put-back.”  He will not turn from the High Post and throw up a 15 footer, nor will he shoot even as much as Tyler Thornton did from outside the Arc.  That means that Defensive Players can “lay off” of him outside the paint and are available to double-team “Oaks.”

Matt Jones is more likely to have a good scoring night from distance, and he more-often-than-not plays good Defense.

You’re correct about his performance from the Charity Stripe, as he is only a smidgen better than “Oaks” there.  That pick-and-roll performance is certainly correct, but it only seems to happen when “Oaks” is off the floor.

I originally got caught up in an upperclassman Co-Captain not playing, or even the affect of Rasheed’s dismissal.  Looking at the big picture, at this time of year, one has to look at what works, and I’m sure that’s what we all want, even Amile !!!

Query #5

The Hokies shot and amazing 54.5% from outside the Arc, 53.4% from the Field, and 80% from the Charity Stripe.  There were plenty of folks on Twitter who were critical of Duke’s defensive prowess.   After the game, Coach K blamed it on “slippage,” insinuating he could not practice the team hard.

What do you make of that ???

Rowan:

All I can say to that is, when Duke came back into the game, around the 11 minute mark, Jahlil Okafor was sitting on the bench.  He is an amazing talent who “mails it in” on Defense.  When his teammates are watching him in the Low Post, they become very complacent.  In contrast, whenever those same teammates are all involved on Offense, they are incredibly active on the other end of the Court.  They are not beaten so easily off the dribble.

I want to give Virginia Tech some credit but I can’t see past the fact that Jalen Hudson scored a career high 23 points, while averaging only 6.5 a game.

I have heard some cries that maybe Duke could have gone to a Zone much earlier and taken the fight out of Virginia Tech, but they played most of the 1st Half in their weakest Man-to-Man Defense.  So, by the time they started playing Zone, VT’s confidence levels were off the charts and they were hitting everything they threw at the rim.

Bermuda Bob:

By anyone’s standard, the Va. Tech shooting was incredible. It has only been surpassed in a Duke game by the Blue Devil’s annihilation of Notre Dame in Cameron, where they shot 60% from outside the Arc, 61% from inside, and 73% from the Charity Stripe. In that game, Notre Dame played the same abysmal defense Duke played for most of the game. Fortunately, the difference is Duke woke up from their slumber in time to get into OverTime.

Your point on “Oaks” is not lost on me, especially if you note that towards the end of the game, where Coach K was making defensive/offensive substitutions.  He routinely took “Oaks” out in defensive situations and it paid premiums.

Sometimes, I believe the obvious, that “Oaks” “plays” defense so as not to get into foul trouble and be able to stay on the Court to score. Don’t take that as selfish when Coach K sez that everything goes thru him !!!

Look, I like the kid as much as any other Duke player, but there has not been a who played equally on both side of the Court since maybe the great Wilt Chamberlain.  That is why I am not a fan of NBA play anymore.  It seems to be that a player who excels on both sides of the Court is considered to be mediocre, even if he logs in Points and Rebounds in the teens every game of the year.  It is yet another negative impact of the “one-and-done” that is so distasteful to me.

Query #6

Tied for 5th place in the ACC with North Carolina, Syracuse is not rolling over and playing dead, even though they will have no post-season games.  They gave Duke a run for their money in the Carrier Dome and “Oaks” was very complimentary of Rakeem Christmas.

What do you expect this time in Cameron ???

Rowan:

They have nothing to lose, but there are some sub-plots to consider. Rakeem Christmas is a Senior and has NBA aspirations. Who best to prove yourself against than the potential first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft? Christmas thinks that he missed some easy shots and looks forward to the second matchup according to Syracuse.com. 

Jim Boeheim is next in line to crack 1000 Wins in Division I Men’s Basketball. He isn’t going to give Duke a win would he? Not again! Surely he will want to avenge his indiscretion last season.

Michael Gbinige comes back to Cameron.  

Bermuda Bob:

Well, “Silent G” will certainly be comfortable with the tims at Cameron, and I believe that the fans will be classy and welcome him back … well, as long as he doesn’t duplicate his effort back on the 14th.

Yes, regardless of where they are not going in post-season play, they would love to clip Duke at home, even more so than at the Carrier Dome.

The battle between Christmas and “Oaks” should be a good one, and I look forward to seeing them both on both sides of the Court. That would bode well for Duke going forward.

Query#8

With three games left in the regular season, what do you think of the season so far ???

Rowan:

It has been a very emotional season. Shouting at inanimate objects (TV) hair pulling etc. For a team that appears to be one of the best in college basketball, they have had one too many close games.  You just never know what Duke team will show up, but it has been fun rooting for these guys.  One thing I must say is the season has gone by pretty quickly !!!

Bermuda Bob:

WOW !!!   So, I’m not the only one yelling at the TV during a game ???  It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

I was heartened that Duke proved that they had a “Plan B” when “Oaks” went down briefly.  While that’s not something I want to see, it also means that foul trouble might not weigh as heavily on Duke in the post-season.   It also demonstrated that Duke is capable of stellar Defense under certain circumstances.

 

A Special Thanks to you, our readers !!!  

We welcome your comments here as well as on our Twitter address at:

@SimplyDukeBB

Point/CounterPoint #14 – After Clemson …

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about the Clemson game, the weekend homage to Dean Smith, and make a wonderful recommendation to get to know Jahlil Okafor … 

Query #1

We always ask this, especially after an exceptional game like Clemson, so what did we learn after this game ??? 

Rowan:

Well to state the obvious, Duke is still a pretty formidable team without star Freshman, Jahlil Okafor.

Bermuda Bob:

Recalling the old John Houseman Smith Barney commercial, Duke won the game “… the old fashioned way …”   They EARNED it !!!

Granted, Clemson has been having a rough season right from the start, but Duke proved that in the event “Oaks” gets into foul trouble, they have a very capable “Plan B” !!!

They also proved that they can still prevail, even when the Trifectas are not dropping. Duke shot 35% on 7 of 20 shooting from outside the Arc.  Also, while we’re talking about shooting, the team converted 11 of 13 from the Charity Stripe.

Query #2

Who would you give the Game Ball to ??? 

Rowan:

I want to give it to Justise Winslow with his “double-double” and a personal best of 13 Rebounds, but Quinn Cook already has it with 27 points, 4 rebounds and as many assists.  Cook controlled the game from start to finish.

Bermuda Bob:

OK, then I’ll give my Game Ball to “The Chief” – Justise Winslow, in recognition of his inspired play and looking like the player from earlier in the season. We have both noted that his contributions were needed so very much.

Query #3

Marshall Plumlee and Grayson Allen got plenty of minutes each.                   Who impressed you more ??? 

Rowan:

Grayson Allen scored 10 points in 18 minutes, but I like how Marshall played.  He didn’t have the stats but played big on a night when Amile Jefferson was a no-show.

Bermuda Bob:

I’m just so pleased to see Grayson getting time on the Court in this Guard-heavy Duke team.  Each and every game he demonstrates the athleticism and verve he was recruited for.  As I’ve said so many times before, a Frosh cannot get better without actual game experience.  I understand he started as odd-man-out, but with his demonstrating that he is up to the challenge, he ought to be seen more in important circumstances.

I agree that “Plums” played important minutes very well that do not show on the Box Score.  I will continue to say that, especially as the only “big” in a 4 Guard line-up, he HAS to stay around the Paint and stop with those goofy looking and rarely effective Picks outside of the Arc.  He does not have the hands for Pick-and-Roll plays, and his best chance at not being Boxed Out is remaining down low.

Just to humour me, notice in the next game, how often one of those goofy Picks produces a score, versus his missing out on a Rebound for a Put Back.  In this game, he had no Offensive Rebounds because he was always out of position and easily Boxed Out while trying to return to where he should have been positioned.  I’m totally surprised the Coaching Staff has not “delivered” him from that predilection.

Query #4

Justise Winslow looked like his old self from the beginning of the season with a huge “double-double” of 20 Points and 13 Rebounds.  Did you notice anything different in his play now from early on, before he was injured ???

 

Rowan:

From the start of this game it was obvious that Justise Winslow’s strength is penetrating off the dribble.  Teams usually clog the middle to prevent that. Plus, with Okafor taking up so much space on the Block, it is normally crowded around the basket, with the double-team assigned to stop the Freshman Center.  Against Clemson, at least in the 1st Half, the Lane was open for business and Winslow took advantage of that.  Clemson made an adjustment, closing down the middle, in the 2nd Half that slowed him down.

Winslow was also great on the boards filling in for Okafor.

Bermuda Bob:

I was so pleased to see “The Chief” back in the form we came to expect from him, early on. Understandably, he was victimized by much-too-much contact Referees routinely allow in the Lane.  Plus, in more than one game, he had gone to the floor for a loose ball, and made awkward contact with the floor on his shoulder.  He has an uncanny way of scoring in some of the strangest situations, and the most unseemly angles. He’s also a viable threat from outside the Arc !!!

I’m glad he is back in time for the March run !!!

Query #5

Should we be worried about Amile Jefferson, because in a game where he was meant to play huge minutes, he played far less than Marshall Plumlee, without the burden of foul trouble ??? 

Rowan: 

Against Syracuse Amile scored 13 Points, had 5 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.  Without Jahlil Okafor, Amile started at Center and only played 16 minutes, registering 2 Points, 2 Turnovers, and a Foul.

A very strange season indeed, so far, for the Junior.

Bermuda Bob:

In Ocean’s 12, a character named Matsui gave us the expression “Lost in Translation” where he spoke in odd machinations that meant nothing to anyone except one of the few people he was speaking to.  I would have to say that Amile’s season is one that is “Lost in Translation” because there are times when he appears, playing very well, and times when he simply disappears on the floor.

Some folks have postulated that part might have been due to his relationship with the banished Rasheed as they also share the same classes.  If that is so, maybe we have a peephole into why Sulaimon received his pink-slip.

All this means that neither of us has a clue as to his erratic play this season. I surely hope something changes in time for the tougher play that is guaranteed ahead !!!

Query #6

Coach K made sure the energy was “up” for the entire game, and made no bones about crediting the “Crazies” as the “6th Man.”  Down Tobacco Road, Coach Roy Williams chided his crowd, on the eve of the Dean Smith memorial service for not being all that involved in the game.  The media thought him to be wrong.  What say you ???

Rowan:

I think William’s problem was that the crowd was not clued in to what they were doing when they paid homage to Dean Smith with the “Four Corners Offense” play.  To be fair not many fans recognise basketball plays.  That play was designed specifically to burn time without the use of a Shot Clock.  To play it at the beginning of a game would cause me to be confused at best.  I believe the play resulted in a score but barely as the Shot Clock almost expired and the pass was almost stolen or deflected.

It is one thing to pay homage to a great man off the Court, but in live action with the season they are having !!!

Then you have to factor in the age of the students, most of them wouldn’t know the “Four Corners Offense” if it jumped up and hit them in the face.

I thought it was a good tribute until William’s attack.

Bermuda Bob:

You have hit the nail squarely on the head, Mate !!!   I believe that present Carolina fans know who Dean Smith was, and that he was a cornerstone of everything that is good and true about the university.  I do not believe they know why.  I don’t believe they know much more about his coaching than what hangs from the rafters in the building named for him.

I understand that Coach Roy Williams wanted to honour Dean Smith by bringing back the “4 Corner Offense” by raising his 4 fingers, as his mentor did way back when.  Later, Coach Roy explained how the team practiced it in secret.

Ricky Nelson sang a song where he noted: ” … no one recognized me, I didn’t look the same …”  So when THIS Carolina team did something that THOSE Carolina teams of old (before the Shot Clock was instituted) they “… didn’t look the same.” 

I have to wonder just how many of those in the Dean Dome were even born when the Shot Clock was instituted … to thwart the genius of the “4 Corner Offense” … some 30 years ago.

As someone who is often guilty of over-thinking things and then getting one’s feelings hurt when it’s not appreciated, it takes one to know one, and I saw it as a mistake right from the start.

I think that in this situation, under the circumstances, with Coach Roy being of the purest intent, he had the right to have his feelings hurt.  That’s what his comments meant to me, and I surely felt for him !!!  If anyone thought otherwise, I’ll bet they never lost a mentor of the stature of Dean Smith. 

To our Readers:

There is a wonderful video entitled:  “Jahlil Okafor:  Playing with Purpose” that was done by a local Fox affiliate.  If you have not seen it yet, we most heartily suggest it to you.  It will tell you so much about why he is who he is !!!

Here’s the link:

https://amp.twimg.com/v/8c5b2708-fcc6-43e0-bd05-3f72474fd4cb

 

Thanks for reading.  We welcome and hope you will comment on our thoughts, and add you own !!!

Also visit us at:      @SimplyDukeB

 

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 Installament #10 – After the Duke Win Against Virginia

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about what we learned from Duke’s win against Virginia, and what we expect going forward to the Georgia Tech tonight, and then Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon …

Query #1

We have had plenty of time to think about how and why Duke won on Saturday in Virginia.

Why do you think Duke won that game ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I have been over the Virginia game from every perspective.  I reviewed the Play-by-Play, I even went back over our comments to each other during the game.  I honestly believe that Virginia did what we both have criticized Duke for in the past – they took their foot off the throttle and it allowed Duke to double-down on their efforts.  The stern perimeter defense of Virginia got lazy and simply double-teamed “Oaks” which allowed Tyus, Quinn, and Matt to hit very big 3 Pointers and shift the momentum to Duke.  Knowing Tony Bennett, that will not happen again against anyone else in the conference !!!

Ro:

Some people have credited Duke for going to a 3-2 Zone in closing moments of the game, which cut off the middle and flustered Virginia, but Duke should really be credited for playing a team game.

In the 1st Half, Virginia did a very good job of taking Okafor out of the game, offensively, and that was their mistake. When Okafor carries the Offense, it makes his team mates complacent.  Keep all 5 guys involved and Duke is formidable down the stretch.  With the big Freshman tied down, everyone was forced to get involved offensively and that does marvels for one’s confidence. Hence, Tyus Jones’s big shot at the end of the game.

I have to give credit to Okafor for overcoming a horrendous start (5 turnovers) to finish the game strong. Those guys would not have been as open as they were if Okafor hadn’t made himself into a target.  This was the most psyched I have  seen the Freshman in 21 games. He ran the floor hard and hit the Offensive Boards for a put back.  He really worried his defenders and made some clean, crucial passes.

Query #2

One of our Readers, Bill W has asked why “Plums” is not playing more, and maybe even on the Court WITH “Oaks.”

What do you think of Bill’s idea ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I think Bill has touched on an excellent point.  Very often “Oaks” seems to be playing not to Foul, which means there is no Defense at all !!!   I lost track of the BackDoor scores and times when Virginia drove the lane uncontested.  The Offense suffers when “Plums” is in because he is not an offensive threat.   He continues to try to set those goofy looking Picks much too far away from the Paint.  He does, however, play hard-nosed defense and challenges everyone who approaches.

I think he deserves more floor time.  Besides, “Oaks” seems to often be “puffed” from having defenders hanging on him constantly, so “Plums” has a role.  I also think a 2-1-2 Zone with the “Twin Towers” look, with Amile as the Center, could flummox defenders with yet another Zone look. 

Ro:

Offensively, Lieutenant Plumlee has potential.  We have seen him pull off the occasional back-to-the-basket move, but those are rare occasions where he was allowed to get comfortable on the court.

I do agree with Bermuda Bob when he says that Plumlee challenges everything.  He may Foul often but he does something very valuable for this team – he hedges.  Whenever the opposing team picks off a Duke Guard, Plumlee does not retreat to the paint, but steps forward to plug the hole, stopping the easy penetration. Someone else might have let the Guard through hoping to block the shot.

Query #3

Grayson Allen got in 11 minutes of Court time against Virginia.  

What did you think of his performance ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I honestly believe that no player, especially a Frosh, can get better and contribute to his team’s system, without playing time.  Grayson has looked somewhat tentative because he has gotten only 109 minutes in the 21 games Duke has played.  A few times he never got his Warm-Up off during the game.  Since we know that he is capable of driving the Lane, and is seemingly willing to do so, I think he ought to be encouraged to.  That way, he might be more open for shots from the outside.  Let’s hope it happens for him and he gets a faire chance. 

Ro:

He was not very memorable. Maybe Allen should practice dunking less and work on his overall game more. I always marvel at a kid’s Youtube highlights where he is dunking everything, then gets to college and looks grounded. With his athletic ability he should be able to get to the paint more often. For homework he should study film of Gerald Henderson and his pull up mid-range Jumper.

Query #4

What do you make of the very evident lockdown of any information about Rasheed’s dismissal ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

There are two great scenes in the movie “Moonstruck” that the banishment of Rasheed reminded me of. In each scene, Professor Perry is seated in the Grand Ticino Restaurant with a young, beautiful student of his when she abruptly jumps up, throws water in his face, and leaves. Each time the Waiter assists the Professor as he proclaims: “… just please take away all remnants of her …”

I think that it looks like Coach K has installed the “Loose Lips Sinks Ships” mode for the team.  It makes perfect sense, but it has caused a wholesale wave of speculation.  Most of it is probably a bunch of baloney by people looking for a story.  I presume Rasheed might be forthcoming sooner or later, but here’s a thought … He was not expelled, so there is no reason why Coach K couldn’t reinstate him next year after addressing whatever was the cause of his dismissal.  Time will tell !!!

Oh, and by-the-way, I believe that henceforth any questions about Rasheed to Coach K or anyone from the programme will be met with Cosmo Castorini’s (also of “Moonstruck” fame) favourite proclamation: “I don’t wanna talk about it !!!”

Ro:

It is as if he was never there.

Query #6

Was this game an emotional reaction to the loss of Sulaimon, and as cooler heads prevail will the Junior’s absence be more evident from the team ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I believe fans will notice the loss more than the team will. He was a true “prime-time player” and the loss of his defensive prowess will be noticeable. Rasheed played both side of the court. I do not see anyone else on the Bench capable of filling his shoes. 

Ro:

I thought that Duke may have turned a corner after the Notre Dame game because the general feeling was that they all played well but they lost. I felt that it was a “good loss” because they knew that they could “hang” with a team like that. They lost because of some key mistakes down the stretch.  Tangible mistakes that they could improve upon. Then Sulaimon got dismissed.

We won’t know if this is a distraction until maybe the second or third game after the emotions have subsided.

Query #7

What are your thoughts on the Georgia Tech game tonight ???

Bermuda Bob:

I hope that Duke does not take Tech for granted and begin to look to Saturday afternoon’s re-match with Notre Dame at Cameron.  I hope they use the game to work on execution of their Zone.  I prefer a 2-1-2 Zone to address Duke’s penchant for allowing BackDoor cuts because they rarely deny the BaseLine to opponents.  I’d also like to see Duke put the “hammer” down and finish a game as tough as they usually begin each half.

Ro:

I wonder if Duke is a team that plays to the level of their competition. They get psyched for games against Louisville, Wisconsin and Virginia but drop the ball against Miami and NC State. They even played well against Notre Dame but struggled against conference bottom dwellers like Wake Forest and Boston College even though they eventually prevailed.

I want to see Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook being aggressive all game and not standing around waiting for scraps off Okafor’s plate. Also, Jahlil Okafor didn’t get to the Free Throw Line, but Duke shot only 53% from the Line. It would have been worse if Tyus hadn’t made 5-of-6. There is still room for improvement.

Query #8

Are you amazed that Duke has continued to be ranked very highly in the Associated Press ???

Bermuda Bob:

Both of the rankings are nothing more than snapshots in time, and as such makes them somewhat reactionary, almost a “What have you done for me lately” type of thing. It honestly means nothing to me. Everyone knows that the month of February is pivotal in each of the major conferences as it sets the tone and seedings of the Conference Tournaments. Those Conference Tournaments seed the Big Dance. Ranking anyone anywhere does not necessarily reflect on who they are, just who they have impressed !!!

Ro:

I can see why Duke is still ranked high after losing to #8 Notre Dame and beating #2 Virginia. Plus Virginia was undefeated in 19 games, so Duke beating them on their home turf has to be rewarded. Some people point to the fact that Duke is currently middle of the pact in ACC standings. but they ignore the fact that the Blue Devils have played only 8 Conference games. Most teams have played 9. Notre Dame and North Carolina, both ahead of Duke in the standings, have played 10.

 

 We welcome all of your comments, and suggestions for topics !!!

Point/CounterPoint Installment #9 – The Curious Dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon …

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In this Installment, Ro & Bermuda Bob discuss the surprising dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon, some history, and the future without him.

Query #1

Wow, what a game changer, was anyone expecting this ??? 

Rowan:         Absolutely not, but reading through most of the stuff on social media it seems that people have all of a sudden remembered episodes where Sulaimon seemed selfish or was frustrated. Whether for being called for a bad Foul or taking an ill advised shot, these are things all the Duke players are guilty of by the way, during their THREE losses.

Prior to this dismissal I hadn’t heard any grumblings about Sulaimon.

Bermuda Bob:         I had not heard much in the way of any foreshadowing of this. I honestly thought he might have transferred after being spurned from a starting position his Sophomore year. If his “problem” is vocalizing frustration, then maybe it was understandably warranted after being subverted a second time by a kid Coach K recruited behind him. I honestly wonder if Rasheed’s mother was able to pick up the phone and ask for a chat with Coach K like Jabari Parker’s mother was, as revealed by Sports Illustrated.

Query #2

There has been some wild speculations on social media, from drugs to team in-fighting.  Are there any thoughts on how we got here ???

Rowan:     We always laude players for buying into a system, accepting their roles, and make villains of players that don’t. Sulaimon had a great Freshman year, but was never given an opportunity to expand on it.

Why ??? Duke started wading into the murky waters of the “one-and-done” phenomenon. For years, Coach K had tried to get these players but they always bypassed him.

Andre Drummond, Kevin Love and John Wall all spurned Duke. So Coach K had to take drastic action to attract these players because turning up wearing all white, driven in a white limousine, were gimmicks that fell short of the mark. He got lucky in the form of Austin Rivers. Kyrie Irving wasn’t a lock to be a “one-and-done” but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it said Duke is “open for business.” Then Jabari Parker happened, followed by JahLil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.

It’s as if Coach K cannot be bothered to develop players anymore. The players have no patience to wait for their turn. Freshmen were given the keys to the program. Players have been transferring from Duke at an alarming rate since 2010. Incidentally that’s the last time Duke won a Championship, and they did it with Upperclassmen.

When Duke recruits kids like Sulaimon, Michael Gbinije, Alex Murphy, and Semi Ojeleye, I can’t imagine they were told that they will be marginalized if Duke can recruit a higher rated player.  So, while I don’t condone Sulaimon’s behaviour, I understand it. If he would have been given certain opportunities maybe he could have been, and become an NBA player, but every season since his Freshman year, it is looking highly unlikely. Hey, maybe he could have even left his Freshman season after all.

Two First Round exits in three years, to lesser teams, is not a great return.

Bermuda Bob:         Rasheed came to Duke for the 2012 Season and blossomed because, I believe, that was the last squad not subverted to “one-and-done” Frosh. In the two seasons previously there was Kyrie Irving and Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers. Both subverted the Upperclassmen and left the programme bludgeoned and in tatters.

Then, as he comes back from FIBA Under-19 Championship, he discovers that Coach K has embraced yet another “one-and-done” recruit (Jabari Parker) who would be paired inseparably with a transferred player (Rodney Hood). The Starting position he presumed was his, and he had earned the previous season – averaging 11.6 Points and 29.2 minutes per game – was swept away from under him. Then, that pesky Sports Illustrated article, and all it revealed, reared it’s ugly head again.

This year Rasheed must have presumed things would be different. After all, how could 3 of 4 Frosh force him to take a backseat ??? Many presumed, myself included, that he would be paired with Quinn Cook. After all, this was Duke … a programme that developed players and respected Upperclassmen. As the great Italian Philosopher, Rose Castorini of “Moonstruck” fame proclaimed: “… not no more it’s not !!!”

Rasheed was relegated to an ignominious role on the Bench, regardless of memorable performances. Then something happened. I cannot believe that if Coach K was thinking of sacking Rasheed, he would have played him (even if it was sparingly) against Notre Dame.

Maybe Rasheed should have seen the handwriting on the wall like “Silent G,” Alex, and Semi, but then maybe he had too much faith. Faith in the place he was recruited to that may no longer exist.

Query #3

Do you agree that he would have been kicked off or does he deserve another chance ???

Rowan:     For Coach K to actually kick him off the team at this point means that the Junior’s behaviour must have been very detrimental to the team, so he had to leave.

If a player does not accept the role available to him, then he must find another place to play. Even if he justifiably thinks that he is better than certain players in front of him. These feelings fester and eventually manifest themselves in a really negative way, making that player a cancer to the team.

This must hurt for Sulaimon because, based on his Twitter feed, he seems to love being at Duke. His high school coach thought that everything was alright between Sulaimon and his current coach (now previous) so something must have happened after the Notre Dame game.

Maybe it was due to certain double standards because some players were getting beaten like a drum, but played major minutes while other players barely saw the Court after making some small mistakes.

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on. Hopefully he can find a landing spot that will meet his requirements for a happy existence. I imagine that he is currently a hot commodity so he will be spoilt for choices. Let’s hope it’s second time lucky for him.

Bermuda Bob:         I agree that if his indiscretions warranted dismissal, then it had gotten to a point of no return.   It is not for us to determine if they were, that’s why Coach K is paid the big bucks. I am not a fan of second guessing the dismissal, however, we can surely second guess how he was used and why.

Every Duke fan has heard those famous words about practicing hard and players earning their spot. Well, I might have believed that once, but I don’t any longer. It’s “balderdash” to think that any kid would come to Duke and all-of-a-sudden decide to just coast, especially not since Coach K dipped his toe into the “one-and-done” debacle.

Yes, I said “debacle.” Has the “one-and-done” player produced anything positive since we first heard of it ???   I maintain that it has not. College is where High School “superstars” meet reality and find out if their skills can be honed while getting an education. The last guy to mix both was Jay (then Jason) Williams, who got his degree in 3 years. All other Duke Championships were won by Upperclassmen whose skills were seasoned over the duration of their matriculation.

If the “one-and-done” is the future of college basketball, then college basketball is done as we know it !!!   College is not a “D-League” for NBA wanna-be’s. A Sports Scholarship is a barter of athletic prowess for an education that might not have otherwise been available to the kid. The “one-and-done” is an anathema to everything that was once wonderful about college basketball.

I surely hope a Coach who is interested in what Rasheed has already proved he can produce finds him. A Coach who knows what we don’t right now about Rasheed’s dismissal … Eyes wide open.

Query #4

So what now ???

Rowan:     Coach K likes to play 7-8 players, now he has 7-8 players.  The Detroit Pistons started winning games when they released Josh Smith, maybe this could be the new Duke.  If Grayson Allen is the answer, then he will have to undergo a remarkable metamorphosis by Saturday.

Bermuda Bob:         I have been critical of Coach K for not playing Grayson more. I agree that he will most likely see more time, even if it is due to Foul trouble. I do not believe that you recruit a kid of his caliber and let his spirits wallow on the bench, perfecting his splinter extraction technique. I do not think he will be a liability. I think he has simply not been given enough time to prove himself and feel comfortable in his new place.

What I do worry is that both he and “Plums” only get time due to Foul trouble. “Plums” earned kudos from Coach K for his role in the St. John’s win, but was “rewarded” with only 6 stolen minutes when “Oaks” went down, temporarily gimped. Grayson has played only 98 minutes in 20 games.

Please know one thing … nothing I have said here is intended to be negative towards “Oaks,” “The Chief” or “The Little Big Man.” They are of this new “one-and-done” era thru no fault of their own. It would be wrong to demonize them for the purpose of this conversation.

B8jhDEpIMAANva5.jpg-thumb     Thanks to Zoe Plant for her great creation.

Please feel free, as always, to let us know what YOU think !!!

 

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

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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.