SDBB: 10 Questions for Duke Going Into Conference Play

Yellow Faced Question Marked

Today, Bermuda Bob shares his thoughts and impressions on the non-conference as we look to the ACC Conference season at Noon on Saturday …

  1.  Can a team have too much talent ???

YES !!!   Duke has too many overlapping situations … Frosh overlapping Upperclassmen is my biggest concern.   Just think how many players this year Frosh have been subverted !!!   It is a by-product of the “1-&-Done” recruit culture, and I find it unsettling …


  1. Has the “1-&-Done” attitude backfired on Coach K ???

Maybe … When Giles, Tatum, & Bolden were sidelined (still questionably) I saw 3 kids who were not always engaged in the game … not you normal Duke player !!!   This is what led people to wonder why they sat for so long. Could injuries have been just an excuse for the possibility that they were not cutting it in the classroom ??? Remember, in the real world, it’s not what it is, it’s what you call it !!!

Then there were the rumours that they all believed they’d be drafted with little or no play … It was reminiscent of the whole Kyrie Irving debacle where the team that had reformulated their chemistry when he went down, after only a handful of games, to become winners.   Then he forced himself into the Big Dance games and the team suffered, just so he’d improve his Draft Stock. 


  1. Should Harry Giles be Red-Shirted ???

Yes, Yes, 1000 Times, Yes !!!  He is not in game shape as Duke enters the ACC Conference Season.   He is not needed !!!   His presence would subvert a player who has been playing and developing with the team during the season thus far.  That is simply wrong !!!   Why force a kid into the line-up just because he came to Duke has a highly ranked player ???   Notice the past tense of my query …


  1. What in the world is wrong with Grayson Allen ???

I haven’t a clue … I hope the powers-that-be get him some psychological help as I wonder if he “learned” that antic during his younger playground days.   Let’s face it, Grayson is an uber over-achiever for his size, so such a playground antic might have been something from yesteryear that is rearing it’s ugly head.

Let’s think of it this way … What if Duke were to make it to the Final Four and he were thrown out of a game and the next game for tripping an opponent ???


  1. With so much talent, will Coach K be forced to play deeper than his usual 6-7-8 guys ???

Dear Lord, since we know that Coach K is a man of deep and abiding faith, and that includes prayer, couldn’t you find a way to impress on him that he has too much talent not to play them all ???   It’s worked for many, many other winning coaches, I count at least 9, or more, who could contribute !!!


  1. Who will be pivotal players this year ???

Easily, Amile has proven to have returned to where he left off before his injury, and there’s no reason to think he will not continue …

Luke has come back to Duke a more mature player.  He can shoot and score much more consistently from all over the Court.  He Rebounds and plays much better Defense.  I noticed that at least one national CBB reporter has picked him as having the potential to be ACC Player of the Year, and I agree !!!

I like what I have seen of Frank Jackson.  He is a very insightful player and can lead this team aptly … I also like what I’ve seen of young Mr. Tatum in the short time since his return.  He reminds me of a Magic Johnson type.

Often disregarded in the overall fray is Matt Jones, whom I like to call “Cazzie” because he reminds me of Cazzie Russell of the glory days of the 70’s Knicks.   Matt is a 4 year Senior who is a defensive stalwart and well-seasoned clutch shooter.   He also shares over 400 “Ironman” minutes with Luke and Amile.


  1. Who has not lived up to their Press clippings???

I’ve been wondering why Marques Bolden has not returned to the form I was so impressed with early on … I loved that he played so toughly under the basket, boxing out, angling for rebounding position, protecting the Baseline, and playing smart defense.   He was surely on his way to doing things that past Duke “bigs” did not or could not. I only hope he can return to that style of play … Duke needs it !!!

That’s because Chase Jeter continues to disappoint.  In 13 game appearances, 190 minutes thus far, he has blocked 13 Shots, grabbed 26 Rebounds and scored 40 Points, but he has been responsible for 14 Turnovers and 25 Personal Fouls.   I think I’d rather see others get more floor time since he is essentially a net zero !!!


  1. Who are the unsung heroes of his year’s team ???

The pre-conference season doesn’t tell us much, especially since there have only been a few really competitive games, and that includes the loss to Kansas in an event that ought to be contested this week.   I think Duke is so deep that a true unsung like Grayson Allen against Wisconsin for the last National Championship has yet to be seen, but I’m positive there will be one if he gets to play some …


  1. Is getting a Duke education enough for the guys who were recruited, but never given a chance to play ???

I’m going to quote CBB Hall of Famer Dick Vitale when he observed that if a guy is good enough to be recruited and given a uniform, then he’s worthy of being given the chance to play.   Unfortunately, Duke has more and more guys like this.   Antonio is back not playing again this year. Newbies Jack White, Javin DeLaurier will probably join Antonio as well as Justin Robinson …

Last season I asked why Sean Obi wasn’t playing and we found out that in the off-season, he had knee surgery by people outside of the Duke Orthopaedics Department.   As someone who knows how a life can be altered by such procedures, I must wonder if he is applying himself in class.

To answer the question, I must guess that a free Duke education might be worth not playing as much as one might wish … I just hope they have good Majors and get good Grades !!!


  1. What must “The Admiral” be thinking as he attends yet more games while his son pulls splinters ???

I have tonnes and tonnes of admiration for “The Admiral” but I must wonder what it must be like to see his son make the sacrifice after sacrifice and not be given any opportunity to prove himself.   It has to be daunting for Justin, especially living in the shadow of his Dad, who was one of the all time greats.


My Take … 

Duke could and should be the pre-conference season favourite to win the ACC, but they might be the most discombobulated bunch in the conference.  Long time Duke fans expect to see a surely formulated set of starters and those 6-7-8 players.

When one considers the “problem” with Grayson, we have to wonder who will step up only to be bounced back to the Bench once he returns, and his return is, as our British friends say, a “dead cert” !!! 

In my opinion, I do not like that Duke is still unsettled.  Frenetic is not the way Coach K plays, nor does he normally use his whole team. Somewhere we all expect some semblance of order … and that is still a question mark.


Questions for the future …

Right now, Amile, Luke, Matt, and Grayson are the 4 cornerstones of the team, but there is too much potential in the balance of the team. So who “sits” to allow that potential to play ??? 

I do not think this is a situation Coach K has ever encountered at Duke, but he certainly has with the Olympic Teams he has coached.   So, I’m happy to lean heavily on his wisdom, experience, and creativity.  I’m more concerned with seeing this team compete for Coach K’s next National Championship than I am seeing who gets into the NBA.


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Point/CounterPoint #18 – After the 1st Big Dance Early Rounds & Going Into the Sweet 16

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell & Bermuda Bob comment on Duke’s first two outings in the Big Dance, look forward to the Sweet 16, and take a peek beyond.  Plus, they discuss the ACC’s wonderful showing, and opine on the CBS coverage …

Query #1

Duke broke into the Big Dance with a convincing win against Robert Morris.

Was there anything that stood out for you ???


Over the weekend I have come to understand that nothing a team accomplishes in the regular season helps them in the tournament. That is my overall takeaway. Everyone is starting from the bottom now. Marshall Plumlee had a great start with his first career Double-Double.

Jahlil Okafor seems to have given up on his Board work, but has shown incredible patience on offense.  He is quite an adept ball handler too !!!

Bermuda Bob:

First and foremost, Congratulations to Marshall “Plums” Plumlee !!! He had an excellent day, full of energy and presence. The Commentators noted that he has provided a great practice environment for “Oaks” so, to see him have the opportunity to blossom was great.

As for the team effort, it had to be a relief to everyone that Duke did not become the first #1 Seed to be beaten by a #16 Seed. Reliving the nightmares of the past.

Quinn Cook got his stroke back and everyone was able to get some floor time. Amile actually scored 10 Points, dealing out 3 Assists.

It was an outing that sent them forward with confidence that might have been bruised in the ACC Tournament.

Query #2

Duke then took on San Diego State, went out fast and maintained their lead for the whole game.

What impressed you, and what didn’t ???


I thought Duke could have utilised a Zone Defense against SDSU because they seemed reluctant to shoot, but the defense held up.  I had the NC State, Miami and Notre Dame losses at the back of my mind.  There, whereby, penetrating Guards hurt Duke.  Going back to my opening statement, everything has been reset. San Diego never really got a chance to hurt Duke.

Okafor was really impressive on both sides of the court. He scored at will and blocked shots.  Maybe he has been saving his best for last …

Bermuda Bob:

I think we saw a San Diego State team that was not at it’s best.  There were reports of a Flu spreading thru the team.  I hope they are better now, and I hope they did not “donate” it to the Duke kids.

Duke went out fast and scored big.  When they began to tire, the subs got the job done by maintaining what the Starters accomplished.  That is always important in the Big Dance.  Take your foot off the pedal, let in the opposition, and the tide can change quickly, shifting momentum.

Justise Winslow had a great game with 12 Rebounds – 11 of them on the Offensive Boards, along with 13 points.

Going forward, they will build on this performance as they will see different types of teams from what’s in the ACC this year.

Query #3

Duke draws a tough Utah team next.  They are a team most of us only saw this week.

What are the keys to seeing Duke prevail ???


Utah has been one of my favourite teams to watch outside of Duke. They play together and for each other. They have two seven footers (Jakob Poetl is a potential high NBA draft pick), they can throw at Duke plus some great versatile players in the form of Chris Reyes and Jordan Loveridge. At 6’7″ they can both play inside or out. These two have stepped up their game as Delon Wright, their best player, has seen his production tail off in recent games but he is still a threat.

One thing I noticed, against Georgetown, was that they had no answer for Josh Smith inside. That is when he decided to play on the block, which was not enough times. It was tough seeing him setting endless picks without rolling to the basket.  Okafor is a much more potent and mobile scorer than Smith.

Bermuda Bob:

Utah is another one of those teams that are not like anyone they play against in conference. They will be more physical and more roundly talented. Duke will need to play within whatever Coach K’s Game Plan turns out to be.

If the “bigs” of Utah prove to be formidable, I think a rotation of Amile, “Plums,” and Matt will be necessary. A lot of people like the idea of “Twin Towers” to draw some of the intensity that defenses play against him. Sure, it sounds good for a game in Texas, but another player who is not as much of a scoring threat will not draw defenses off “Oaks.”

If and when “Plums” gets floor time, it is imperative that he STOP those goofy looking picks, that take him way too far from the Paint.  He is rarely a threat to execute a Pick-and-Roll and opposing players know that, so, all it does is take him away from where he excels – under the basket – and allows opponents Box Out position on him !!!

I’m hoping for Duke to get out to the same type of lead they like to, then hold it so as to keep Utah on their heels. That along with stellar defense … BY EVERYONE … should get them advancing.

Query #4

Presuming Duke prevails, the consensus is that Gonzaga is their next opponent.  They are said to be Mark Few’s best team of all.

Can Duke beat them to make it to the Final Four ???

How do they do it ???


I want to see how Gonzaga plays UCLA before I can comment on this besides, I think Utah plays a similar game to Gonzaga, even if their “Bigs” aren’t as talented.

Bermuda Bob:

I think Gonzaga will prevail against UCLA, a team that I do not think belonged in the Field of 64.  They advanced by a Referee error to boot !!!

We are told that Mark Few has his best team this year. I believe that they will be a formidable foe. I have to trust Coach K will have some ideas on how to handle them.

I think that varying their looks, getting out to a strong start, and playing tough defense is presumed. The best way to handle teams that protect the paint well, is to constantly move the ball like Duke does so well when they go to the 4 Guard line-up.

Query #5

Duke is joined by four (4) other ACC teams still left in the Big Dance, leading all conferences.

Where do you expect everyone to be after the Regionals, going to the Final Four ???


Seems the ACC was much better than previously thought. I imagined when they recently added Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse this is what they had in mind. ACC won all their opening games. I didn’t think Virginia would be out this early though as NC State took out Villanova.

SEC had a down year and so did the Big 10 (compared to the last two season). Everyone thought the Big 12 was the best, but the carnage they suffered in the second round was telling. Wichita State taking down Kansas was not much of a surprise, but the way they did it most certainly was !!!

Bermuda Bob:

We knew NC State was tough from the loss to them early in the conference season, the same thing with Notre Dame and Carolina.  Louisville is a surprise and a testament to Rick Pitino for keeping that team together after all the drama. I wish Syracuse were in the Big Dance because they might have been in the Sweet 16 as well.

I can’t say I was surprised that the ACC did well, and I was curious as to why the Big 12 was expected to be “Best in Show.”  As always, you can’t count out the Big 10, especially “Mr. March” aka Tom Izzo.

NC State and Louisville will cause a net lost ACC team. Carolina will have their hands full with Wisconsin, but they are not strangers, so expect a tight game. Notre Dame will depend on their reaction to a Wichita State’s different looks, and some hot hands from their perimeter shooters.

Query #6

Duke was fortunately covered by CBS’ lead team of Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, & Jim Nantz.

What did you think of the coverage of the games ???


I am a hardened college basketball fan, so I don’t need Commentators to spoon feed me the game.  I rate Commentators for their ability to tell me something I did not know, and being able to blend into the background of the game.  I don’t need someone who is going to continue to show me complex plays that don’t make much sense under close scrutiny.  They are clearly being used to reinforce the Commentator’s agenda (here’s looking at you, Doug Gottlieb). Most of all, I despise constant negativity from talking heads.

These three have done a marvelous job of keeping on top of the action while being entertaining, then again when your team is winning everything smells of roses.

Bermuda Bob:

I was very pleased that CBS honoured one of the best people in college basketball by not only assigning him to the Big Dance, but also giving him a great upstart in Grant Hill.   Bill Raftery is not only accurate, concise, and brief, he is entertaining. Jim Nantz plays his omni-commentator role well. Their on-court Reporter is probably the best CBS has.

I have been very vocal in criticizing the way CBS brings in NBA people who don’t have a clue as to who’s who and what’s what. Very often I have found them misspeaking, and not even knowing who the coaches are, so I can imagine what their “cheat sheets” for the players must look like. Dressing old NBA guys who are “past it” in vested suits is like lipstick on a pig.

I have never understood why we listen to ESPN folks all season long, then when the National Championship is being determined, CBS brings in VERY substandard personnel.  After all, college basketball fans might very well be some of the most intelligent and well informed compared to some other sports.  If you think of it, we begin attempts to acquire tickets 10 months ahead of knowing who we’re going to see via the ticket lotteries.  If you’ve ever been to a Regional, you will enjoy other like-minded fans who are not necessarily there because their team is playing, but because it is simply the best college basketball can offer !!!  I’ve been there, done that, and loved every minute of it.

CBS, NBC, and ESPN all work together interchangeably for other sports like Golf and Tennis, so why not give the viewers the best ???


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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 ???


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” ???


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.”


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 ???


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 ???


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 ???


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 ???


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 

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.


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


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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