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

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

Query #1

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

Rowan:

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

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

Bermuda Bob:

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

Query #2

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

Rowan:

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:

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

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

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

Query #3

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

Rowan:

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:

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

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

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

Query #4

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

Rowan:

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

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

Bermuda Bob:

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

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

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

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

Query #5

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

Rowan:

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:

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

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

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

Query #6

Can Coach K turn this season around ???

Rowan:

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

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

Bermuda Bob:

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

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

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

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

Query #7        

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

Rowan:

I think this team has bigger problems than their outfit …

Bermuda Bob:

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

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

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

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

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Point/CounterPoint #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 !!!

 

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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.

 

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Point/CounterPoint #12- After the 1st Syracuse Game …

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In the installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss the 1st Syracuse game this weekend, their recent violations problem, and the upcoming 1st North Carolina game.

Query #1

This year’s game was another sell-out in the Carrier Dome, but the game had a different feeling.  Duke won quieting the sea of orange fans in the 2nd Half. What did we learn about this team with THIS win ???

Rowan:     I learned that Jahlil Okafor is a decent post defender. Rakeem Christmas went right at him over and over and came up short.  I do wonder if the fans bought their tickets before Syracuse announced their postseason ban ???

Syracuse just did not have that fight in them considering the amount of support they had. I was confident of the outcome regardless of the score in the 1st Half when Syracuse was up big.

Bermuda Bob:     I’m pleased that Duke looked like a more cohesive unit who could maintain their composure, even when they were getting beaten.   I’m glad they could effectively make the changes Coach K made at halftime, like Quinn on “Silent G,” who was hurting them.  I’m curious why Amile only got 14 minutes, but I’m glad Matt excelled.  Both “Plums” and Grayson got meaningful minutes and took advantage of them, even if was just 8 minutes each.  I won’t pretend to understand why …

Query #2

Jay Bilas of ESPN, while covering the game, was extraordinarily outspoken about the terrible officiating on both sides.  

Do you agree ???  

Rowan:     I don’t know, sometimes he gets it wrong. Jahlil was standing straight up and Christmas was creating the contact with his many fakes. Okafor even took a few elbows. However, that fast break where a Syracuse player was fouled on one end, then Cook got fouled on the other end was a legit “swallowing of the whistle” moment. Cooney didn’t get the call but Cook fortunately did.

Bermuda Bob:     I am not a fan of Referees who have any impact on a game, except for the real reason why they are there.  When the game is over, I should never even think of a question like this.  Unfortunately, all too often the Referees insert their personal perspective into the game.  We’ve seen it plenty this season:

  • Some call “Charging” much less when it comes to a Duke game …
  • Some call “3 Seconds” more than other Officials …
  • Some won’t call “Traveling” except when the kid “Moon Walks” …
  • Coach Knight likes to ask why “Palming” is not called more often …

I disagree with the notion that if they call the game equally, it is faire officiating.  No, it’s not !!!   Officiating exactly the same from game to game to game is faire.  That means:

  • It is equitable and identical from game to game …
  • It is commensurate to what is called by every other official …
  • It is disinterested in the caliber of play nor team reputations …
  • It is unconcerned that their rental car(s) is parked outside …

The fact that a Commentator the caliber of Jay Bilas felt it necessary to point it out on so many occasions means that the officiating was somewhere between appalling and atrocious.

Query #3

“Oaks” had nice things to say about his opponent, Rakeem Christmas.  

Our friend at Duke Report, David Aldridge, posted an excellent article this week asking if “Oaks” has become a victim of his own success.  

It that possible, or just another way of saying that everyone has his “number” ???

Rowan:      Jahlil Okafor is very well mannered and his having good things to say about an opponent is not a surprise. As they say, “Game does not lie.” Personalities shine thru on the Court, and he is always the first to help a fellow up off the floor, whether it’s a teammate or not.   

As for the ‘victim of his own success,’ part well with numbers like this of course, there will be game plans especially for him. It is the ultimate sign of respect. For my part he makes a great decoy as in while opponents are worried about him. Guys like Quinn Cook can take advantage. That’s how Virginia was beaten.  

Bermuda Bob:     It was surely wonderful to see that “Oaks” is a gentle and gentile giant.  He just fought a battle with another “big” and prevailed in being a large part of a hard fought win. He did so while not getting into foul trouble nor fouling out.  Your point about being an excellent decoy is as much a part of his game as is his scoring.  The very fact that teams have to formulate their Game Plan around “Oaks” makes the point. The counterpoint is that he is so flexible that there is no one specific plan that will consistently prevail against him.   That speaks to his adaptability but also to that of the rest of the squad too. You can’t have one without the other.

I think that David’s point was both complimentary and wishful. I too am happily voting for Quinn as the team MVP because he has consistently fulfilled his recruitment by his leadership. I guess David and I would be fighting to be first in line to plead with “Oaks” to stay !!!

Query #4

Mike “Silent G” Gbinije scored 17 of his 27 points in the 1st Half, shooting 5 of 8 from outside the Arc.  

A fan on Twitter wondered if he had his old Duke jersey underneath his ‘Cuse jersey.  

Do you think he was inspired by proving, as Coach K noted: “I’m glad he turned out to be the player we thought he’d be …” 

Rowan:     The rest of that quote is, “and that he did not beat us tonight.” Cut to Duke fans collectively nodding at this.

Actually in the last few games Michael Gbinije has been playing really great basketball, and this was his third game in a row scoring over 20 points. I am glad to see a player flourish upon leaving Duke, which is not normally the case. A player doesn’t normally transfer to another ACC team either, so there you have it !!!

Bermuda Bob:     I do not doubt for a moment that Mike’s adrenalin was pumping sky high, and he did a great job of playing within himself. Thankfully, Coach K had a weapon in his quiver – Mike’s old roommate, Quinn Cook.   “Quinny” played “Silent G” well in the Second Half and reduced his effectiveness. I would have thought that, considering how well he has played as of late, he would have been mortified by a poor performance. I expect the same on the 28th in Cameron because, as Coach K noted: “Look, we recruited him because we thought he was good …”

I certainly wish he had gotten the playing time he was recruited for, and stayed, instead of becoming disillusioned and being forced to take his talents elsewhere, especially within the ACC. 

Query #5

Considering that ‘Cuse has self-penalized themselves for something that happened before most of these kids were recruited, do you have any thoughts on the fairness of such penalizations happen ???

Rowan:     How many people came to see Duke play Syracuse ??? Over 35,000 right ??? That is a lot of ticket sales for a team playing for nothing. The general feeling is that Syracuse is going nowhere this season so they could afford to absorb such a punishment much easier, especially considering the recruiting class they have coming in next season.  That means that the only people hurt are the fans, and the players being denied a chance to prove their worth in both the ACC Tournament and the Big Dance, especially the Seniors.

Bermuda Bob:     I believe that it is patently wrong to penalize any kid for the actions of a predecessor. I’m not sure if monetary fines are the answer, but it has to start somewhere else rather than this inequitable penalizing of kids who did nothing wrong.   I feel terrible for the present ‘Cuse kids for a very real reason.

When I was a youngster, my brother broke a window throwing a baseball bat at me. When my father got home he lined us both up and asked who broke the window.  My brother lied, and I simply said “Not me !!!”  We each got a lick, then the question was asked again.  Over and over and over again my brother lied, each time my response was the same, and each time the same lick.  A total of 4 each until my brother broke down. My father finished doling out his punishment, then my father turned to me and said nothing more than, “You see what you get for lying ???” 

Yup, I truly feel for the present “Cuse kids, but I sure wish the real violators could get theirs !!!

Query #6

Carolina comes to Cameron on Wednesday night at 9PM  …

Any thoughts ???

Rowan:     We had this discussion previously and my prevailing thought is that UNC is like a wounded grizzly (I don’t remember using such colorful terms though) and they should not be discounted after losing to PITT over the weekend. Duke is at home, so hopefully they can find that same intensity they played Notre Dame with.

Bermuda Bob:     The reason why the Duke-Carolina rivalry is the best in sport is because the players are playing for all the right reasons.  They do not profit like the Yankees/Red Sox or the Celtics/Lakers or so many other supposed rivalries.  The other reason is because the kids, from all over the country, on both sides, share the same small geographic area as compatriots, not enemies !!!

This rivalry has guaranteed such incredible competition on both Home Courts that it is always scheduled promoted so all will not forget to watch.  It can make temporary heroes of pariahs as when Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers sank the winning shot, even though he is now looked upon as the makebate for that terrible season.

This year will be a somber one after the passing of Dean Smith, as he was instrumental in developing and perpetuating this rivalry, and I, for one, am so glad he did !!!

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