Point/CounterPoint – Installment #4 … After Temple & Stanford

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Tonight, Ro Shiell & Bermuda Bob talk about this past weekend’s games against Temple and Stanford in the “Coaches vs Cancer Classic” in Brooklyn and what we learned …

Here we go:

Query #1:

Both the Temple and the Stanford games proved to be very different games for Jahlil Okafor, but he still found a way to contribute to the wins.  Do you think this is an indication of things to come from competitors ???

 Bermuda Bob:

Well, we all are familiar with the Marine Corps motto:  “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.”   This is an excellent example of what “Oaks” will need to embrace each and every time out, and he’s done so thus far.   Some coaches will double-team him, some will revert to the “Hack a Shaq” and test his performance from the Charity Stripe, and others will try something else we have not yet identified.  He was never destined to shoot 85% for long, but his impact is unquestionable.  I continue to be impressed !!!

Rowan:     

Well the scouting report is in, especially after the Michigan State game.  We have always said between ourselves “lets wait and see” when it comes to Freshmen, so guess what ?  The competition is saying that too.  Now they know how to play him.  Make him fight for position, deny him the ball, take it to him on Offense.  The busier he is the more likely he is to make mistakes. There is an expected adjustment period for Freshmen, this is the time for Okafor to really find his bearings.  Playing Temple and Stanford back-to-back was a real test for the Freshman.

Query #2:

Quinn Cook brought his “A” game in all these games, which garnered him the MVP of the “Coaches vs. Cancer” event.  

Do you think he hass finally found the consistency he has had some problems with in the past ???

 Bermuda Bob:   

I think his play has been impressive, but I think much of his success has been due to his blending with Tyus and Rasheed in the BackCourt, and benefitting from dishes from the FrontCourt.  He has found plenty of open space for uncontested strokes and made plenty of them.  He’s shooting 54% and 49% from outside the Arch !!!   After the Stanford game he said that he likes the leadership role he has been given, and believes he is just taking his place amongst those Duke players that went before him.  That indicates his mind is in the right place.   Time will tell, but he’s looking like the real deal now !!!

Rowan: 

I am loving Cook’s leadership. He is playing great.  He leads the team in scoring, plus the shooting numbers are awesome, even if he is shooting by himself in the gym, those numbers are still great.  In my in profile on Cook I discussed how throughout the previous three seasons, he has always played well in November and December.  We are still in November.  It is his Senior season and I want to believe that he can keep this up for the next four months.

Query #3:

What statistic(s) from these games this weekend impressed you the most ???

Bermuda Bob:

Without a doubt, I am head-over-heels at the way Duke is grabbing Offensive Rebounds.  They are getting great put-backs and 2nd chances with a new Shot Clock.  This pays plenty of premiums in every game and often catches the Defense off guard for a Trifecta.      I also love Duke’s perimeter Defense.  They are consistently causing TurnOvers, resulting in breakaway transitional Points.

Rowan: 

Tyus Jones came back to earth this weekend, with an 0-for-6 outing against Stanford and 1-for-7 against Temple, but he found other ways to contribute. He leads the team in Assists, makes two Steals a game, and more importantly he takes care of the ball only turning it over once every game.  As a whole Duke turns the ball over less than ten (9.6 to be exact) times a game. Compared to the other ACC teams they are only second to Pittsburgh (9.3). Rebounding is improving but they are middle of the pact in the ACC. Now, that might be a testament to the level of competition. NC State is averaging 52 rebounds in three games, North Carolina just a hair under 50 in as many games. Duke is managing 39 per contest. I should note that they have only been out rebounded once, through five games, and that was against MSU.

Query #4:

Who has most impressed you the most off the bench ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think that Matt Jones is benefiting from the expectations that he score.  If you notice, he seems to own the Corner.  He continues to excel on Defense.   I’ve also been impressed with the quality minutes “PlumTree #3″ has provided.  He has resisted the over eagerness to excel when he actually gets minutes.  I’m curious about Grayson Allen.  He finally got minutes and looked great against Temple, but did not see play against Stanford, along with Semi.

Going forward, there will be nights when Coach K will need to go deep into his bench and not in the platoon style he seems to like to use as a twist.  It makes sense to me to get the bench experienced before they are needed for a win.

Rowan: 

No doubt that Matt Jones is the most productive bench performer at the moment.  I am impressed with Marshall Plumlee most though, I think at this point he is coming into himself.  He knows his strength is Defense and plays to it. He also looks more relaxed on the Court.

Query #5:

Coach K is quoted as saying that there is nothing Jahlil should be able to do eventually, but that he realizes that is might not happen while he is at Duke.  Does that bother you ???  

Bermuda Bob:

Rarely has a player impressed me like “Oaks” has.  He reminds me of the best aspects of each of my favourite Centers of yesteryear.  Against Stanford, I saw him throw a baseball pass fully extended from the baseline to half-court with just the flick of the wrist.  His Rebounding has been exceptional, and I have yet to see him make a bad decision.

I admit that I do not embrace the “one-and-done” player and believe that the NCAA has to do something to stop this trend.  I detest the thought that Duke might become a revolving door like other programmes, even those of coaches I respect.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I have heard the theories that Coach K has rationalized his stance on the “one-and-done” in the hopes of attaining another Championship before retiring.  I’m still an ardent Duke fan nonetheless and will continue to hope for that change I believe needs to happen.

Rowan: 

We know Okafor will only be at Duke for a season, barring any unforeseen circumstances. It is not a stretch to imagine his best years are beyond Duke. He is by no means a finished product, so, why look so far ahead ?  For one thing, Okafor is a “throw-back” player, back to when Forwards and Centers mainly did most of their damage five feet in front the hoop. We are in a time where Stretch Forwards and Centers are coveted. His type is a dying breed in the NBA, but with DeMarcus Cousins’ emergence this season, Okafor’s stock has taken a boost. Maybe Coach K was laying the foundation for his Freshman’s next gig.

 Query #6:

Coach K has surprised many by embracing the idea of platooning.  We have postulated that it would not last, yet it continues, while not as much as previously.  

What do you make of this ???

Bermuda Bob:

I was impressed that Coach K might have gotten past his penchant for playing just 7-8 deep.  I thought the idea of platoons was a hokie idea, possibly giving away the accomplishments of the Starters.  All that optimism ended Saturday night, so not so fast.  In the most consequential game thus far against Stanford, he reverted to 8 guys, and only 7 got double-digit minutes.  That causes me to worry for Grayson and Semi, but maybe with the upcoming Furman and Army games, the “2nd Team” might get more floor time and chances to prove them worthy of time in bigger games.

Rowan: 

I am not sure how much Coach K has embraced platooning, whereby an entire starting five replaces the players on the court.  At the moment only 3 bench players average double-digit minutes, and that statistic is obscured by the first two games of the season.  As the level of competition increases Coach K relies on his Starters a lot more.  Compare that to Kentucky who has 10 players averaging between 16 and 21 minutes. North Carolina has 9 players averaging between 14 and 21 minutes.  Those are teams employing a platoon system.

Coach K has slowly reverted to his trusted 8-man rotation.  In the last game against Stanford, only Sulaimon and Matt Jones played significant minutes. The only other player that entered the game, Marshall Plumlee, played 5 minutes.  Any good coach knows that you can’t go into every game with a set script, but by not giving certain Bench Players a chance means that there is no platoon system being employed here.  I am OK with it because Quinn Cook is flourishing in his coach’s trust.  I am not OK with it because Winslow is playing too much in November.  I want to see if Ojeleye can play some meaningful minutes behind Justice.  Since I am not at the practices, only Coach K knows why he makes the decisions he does.

One more thing, the “platoon system” is John Calipari’s mantra for this season, as if he invented it. Roy Williams has been doing that for years.

Query #7:

Duke plays Wisconsin on December 3rd at 9:30PM, in the “ACC/Big 10 Challenge.”  

Both teams will likely still be undefeated and are very deep.  What challenges are you anticipating for this Duke team ???

Bermuda Bob:

Bo Ryan is one of my all time favourite coaches in college basketball.  His teams always represent the Big 10 well, and have shown Duke’s weaknesses in this event.  The Badgers are deep and talented, with 4 players averaging big double-figures, while 8 guys are averaging double-digit minutes.  The game is in Madison, which also favors Bo’s boys.

Rowan: 

The first challenge is this will be their first true road game. The second challenge is playing a higher ranked team.

Wisconsin matches Duke incredibly well. Frank Kaminsky will be a heavy load for Okafor, because he is good inside and can shoot the Three.  You can’t assign Jefferson to the seven footer to save the big Freshman from foul trouble. Amile he will have his hands full with Nigel Hayes, a double-double threat.  Justice Winslow maybe a versatile defender, but on that night he will have to concentrate on Sam Dekker, a 6’9″ do-everything type.  In the Backcourt, Coach K is going to have to make a decision.  Josh Gasher is shooting 60% of his three pointers, through four games, and Traevon Jackson is a determined Point Guard that can penetrate at will.  So, does Sulaimon or Jones start, or stick with Tyus Jones and Cook ?

Indiana and Michigan have taken some very good teams to the Kohl Center and come back defeated and broken at the worst of times for Bo.  Now he has one of his best and the most experienced teams in college basketball.

Wisconsin wants to play Duke at home.  They are not dreading this game but looking forward to it.  Will the Freshmen stand and fight, or wilt under the spotlight ?  For now, Duke should keep the focus on their next two games, maybe try to implement more of the bench.  Wojo has just had a heartbreaking loss to an overlooked team that hasn’t been in D-1 for more than 5 years.  I’m not saying that will happen to Duke, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t give due diligence to lesser ranked teams either.

 

 So there you have it !!!  

Don’t forget to send us your questions !!!

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