SDBB – Duke “Countdown to Craziness” From An Attendee’s Viewpoint …

By Bill Wheeler

The bright sun warmed the late October afternoon.  As the doors opened to Cameron Indoor Stadium you could sense the temperature was going to rise inside.  My wife and I moved through the tight security and stopped in the foyer to look at some of the displays – 5 NCAA Championship rings, various sizes and colours of Nike basketball shoes worn by Duke standouts, and a history timeline of the Cameron construction.

We walked up to the second level and found our section only to have the Usher point out that we needed to weave from an upper row down to the row below and back up to reach our seats at the top of Cameron next to a steel girder.  Cameron Crazies wearing light blue horns had already filled their seats directly across the Court at the Sideline.  Graduate students filled the end line seats at both ends of the court.  The rest of the crowd filled in their seats over the next hour and a half.

For each of the 5 years we have attended Countdown, the pre-game entertainment has varied a little from the previous year.  This year there was gift certificate offered if 3 shots could be made within 30 seconds.  An award winning male dancer from Ireland tapped at mid-court over protective paper.  Musical chairs were played for 5 contestants paired with a Duke Woman’s Basketball teammate.  There were acapella singers, and an East Indian cultural dance to entertain before the Main Event.

As 8 PM, approached the song “Every Time We Touch” rang across the stadium and the Cameron Crazies began to clap in unison along with the fans standing and joining in.  When the chorus played, my wife and I kept up with the Crazies pumping our arms up and down. The National Guard marched out onto the floor and chills went down my spine as the Duke women sang the Anthem.

Thank you, Duke fans, for displaying Blue Devil and American Pride !!!

The crowd remained standing and began to reverberate yells of approval and clapped as a 2 minute video of the Duke basketball team played on the scoreboard.  Upon its completion, a florescent green string extended down from the scoreboard to the Court.  My wife asked me what it meant.  Unknowingly, I answered it must represent an electric chord.  Jagged lights flashed on the court and radiated out from Center Court to the End Lines.  The players were introduced with their picture shown on half of the Court and their signature in florescent green on the other half, while the player danced at mid-court to their favorite song.

The final player introduced was Grayson Allen and the noise level reached a deafening approval.  “Every Time We Touch” played again with fans clapping in unison.  Saturday, in the Duke bookstore, I saw this season Duke Men’s Basketball Yeam banner titled “Electric.”

Having watched some of the Freshmen highlight videos, it was interesting to see their skills in real time combined with some impressive improvements from the returning players. Javin DeLaurier was the top rebounder with 9, 3 Assists, and only scoring 3 Points.  Later I learned he was nursing a tender hamstring.

The Blue Team was led by Gary Trent, who scored 13 points, while Wendell Carter had 11, and Alex O’Connell, dwarfed by the physical stature of the “Bigs,” scored an impressive 8 Points driving to the basket and from outside.   Trevon Duval played Point Guard for the Blue Team with 3 Assists and 4 Turnovers.

His counterpart on the White Team, Jordan Goldwire showed some “Heads Up” skills with no turnovers and good defense.  Jack White led his team with 6 boards.  Marques Bolden took several minutes to work his way among the “Bigs” and finished strong.  Marvin Bagley III scored 12 Points. while Grayson Allen had 3 Assists and 13 Points.  He should be a “beast” in all phases of the game this season.

With so many “Bigs” to help out this season, this team could be impressive, of course, as long as they show up with a solid defense.

Go Duke !!!

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Thanks for the read !!!

We remind you that we welcome your comments both here and at our Twitter site at:

@SimpleDukeBB

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Antonio Vrankovic

By Bill Wheeler

Antonio was recruited to Duke by Nate James 2 years ago.  This year as a Junior, he is listed as a 7′ 269 lb Center who will again wear #30 for Duke.  Last season, Antonio played in 13 games, averaged 7.8 MPG, 2.5 PPG and 2.6 RPG.  From the bench, he was one of the most vocal leaders and maintained a great attitude.

Like his father, Stojko, Antonio fills out a solid physical like a statue.  Stojko played in the NBA for 5 seasons in the 1990’s and in 2 Olympics for Yugoslavia.

As Marques Bolden returns at Center and a strong roster of 5 Forwards, it is questionable Antonio will see more playing time.  If Duke plays big, then we may see Antonio play more minutes with the second group, however, he needs to improve his aggressiveness on Defense and Free Throw completions.  In a couple of games last year he showed flashes of his Defense and Offense skills on Blocks and Put Backs.  We expect the coaches to draw on his leadership in practice, and off the court to help out with leading the 8 Freshmen.

Antonio’s hometown is listed as Zagreb, Croatia; he was born in Minneapolis and is the son of Stojko and Lovorka Vrankovic.  He has two older sisters Andrea and Matea.

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Thanks for the read !!!

We remind you that we welcome your comments both here and at our Twitter site at:

@SimpleDukeBB

SDBB – After Sleeping On It – The Wake Forest Game

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

Saturday’s Wake Forest game was not broadcast everywhere, so Bermuda Bob didn’t get to see it, but Bill Wheeler got lucky and was able to see the game … After Sleeping on It, Bill gives us his impressions, while Bermuda Bob comments on what he gleaned just from the Box Score …

Bill:    Frank Jackson is already a good Point Guard, but he has a tendency to favour passing to the right side of the Arc.  Sooner or later, teams are going to pick up on this.

Bermuda Bob:     Once again, Frank was subverted to Bench.  He HAS to be the Point Guard for this team to establish some sort of continuity …

Bill:     Wake was disrupted by Duke breaking out of their traditional man-to-man defense in favour of a Zone and trapping.

Bermuda Bob:   While is was disrupting, it still didn’t cause double digit TurnOvers, but it apparently DID disrupt their shooting outside the Arc as Wake shot 6 of 20 for only 30% !!!

Bill:     Antonio got 6 minutes and made the most of them, nailing a dunk and hoofing it to the other side of the Floor for a stop.  I’m glad he was praised by Coach Capel.  This is not the first time this year or last year when Antonio has done something like this …

Bermuda Bob:     We have both been begging for more Floor time for Antonio.  When you consider that Giles played 18 minutes and did little more than contribute 6 Points, 4 Fouls, and a TurnOver with Antonio, it proves my idea of RedShirting him would not have hurt this team …

Bill:
Tatum took several untimely shots.  A couple were just bad shots he took, hoping they’d go in to boost his stature, not necessarily the team’s.  Once he fouled out, Duke became a different team.

Bermuda Bob:      I hate to say things like this, but I told you so … Tatum stole 21 minuted from another player who would be more productive and less harmful.

Bill:     Grayson Allen has become a lightening rod for opposing teams.  I think he needs to be benched.  He got knocked down once on a drive to the basket and immediately began to mouth off, which drew a “T” !!!

Bermuda Bob:    I don’t get it.  I love a player with verve, but he might not have tripped anyone for a while, but his overly-fiery conduct is something to be concerned about.  I think he needs a shrink PLUS the threat of being benched !!!   As I’ve said before, what if he does something down the road in the Big Dance that adversely affects the team, and/or even the outcome of a game ???

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Bermuda Bob:     I watched the Virginia/Villanova game yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it because it was played at a fast pace where both teams excelled on both sides of the Court …  Last week I also saw ‘Nova beaten by WoJo’s Marquette’s team.  Duke would get slaughtered by all 3 of these teams !!!

Duke plays Notre Dame tonight, a very good team with discipline, talent, and huge scoring abilities.  Duke NEEDS to win this game, or winning against Wake means nothing !!!

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Thanks for the Read …

Weigh in on the topics we’ve discussed here, or anything else you’d like to …  You can dohere here, or at our Twitter site: 

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SDBB: Point/CounterPoint – 7 Questions After 7 ACC Games – Part #1

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After 7 ACC games that leaves Duke with a paltry 3-4 ACC Record, instead of asking, in the words of the great Vince Lombardi: 

What the Hell is Going On at Out There???” 

We’d like to introduce our newest contributor, Bill Wheeler, and give our readers a chance to get to know him via his thoughts on 7 Questions, all designed to ask the question we all struggle with:  

“What the Hell is Going On at Duke ???”

Tonight, we tackle the first 3 …

Point #1:        

Let’s start with an easy one … What is the reasoning of putting Duke Blue Devils in Black, or even Gray uniforms ??? 

Doesn’t mean that Duke has sold their soul to Nike ???

Bill:       

Let’s follow the money to answer this question.  The apparel companies spent a staggering $1.1 billion on college athletics during 2014-15 season.  One source ranks Michigan with the # 1 apparel deal with Nike at $10 million per year or $169 million over 15 years.  Nike will supply all 31 of the Wolverine athletic programs with uniforms.  Notre Dame is ranked #2 with a $9 million contract with Adidas.  The average contract per ACC conference team is estimated to be around $ 2.5 million.

Since Duke is a private institution, the dollars Nike is compensating Duke are not readily available.  I emailed Nike investor relations and have not received a received a response as of this writing.

The following statements from Duke Sports Information were found in 2 articles:

“Duke has been exclusive to Nike since 1992.”

In 2008, Duke and Nike agreed to:

  1.    Provide cash compensation annually to Duke Athletics
  2.    Annual funding to local charities of Duke’s choice
  3.    Each year one Duke student-athlete will receive paid internship at Nike headquarters

In 2015, Nike and Duke agreed to a 12-year extension.  At this point, I think Duke sold their soul.  A Portland Business Journal reporter, Matthew Kish, outlines the contracts of the 2015 Final Four teams.  The following is a link to his article:

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/threads_and_laces/2015/04/apparel-contracts-final-four-teams-nike-adidas.html

Do you blame an athletic department for signing these lucrative agreements ???  No, however, good business practices such as cyclical review of contracts are prudent.  At some point you would expect this business model have a downturn.

Bermuda Bob:        

You’ve quoted some powerful statistics there, which are mind-boggling in and of themselves.  My problem with any of the uniforms designed by the companies is they have totally and utterly disregarded the schools who have a colour named in their mascot’s name.

Duke is the “Blue Devils” are named for a very famous French fight force, yet they list only Blue and White as their official colours. They have worn Black as an “alternate” … Alternate for what ??? Is there something wrong with just your official colours ???  I don’t think so !!!

Another example is Rutgers, who are the “Scarlet Knights” and their official colour is just Scarlet, yet they have worn any number of colours like Black, Silver, White, etc.

Then there’s Miami, who are the “Hurricanes” and their official colours are Green, Orange, & White, but they wore Black uniforms against Duke this year.

I could go on and on, and bored you to death, but the point I’m driving at is that uniform companies design additional uniform colours to pad their bottom line.  My question is why the schools often acquiesce to a Black uniform when it has nothing to do with they colours ???  Black is the absence of colour to the human eye.  It doesn’t make you look tougher. As a matter of fact is makes many guys look diminutive.   Coach Jon Scheyer, not a Charles Atlas-type, looked pale and spindly when he wore a Black Duke uniform. Was that what Duke wanted to portray ???  I hardly think so !!!

I’ll also note that some programmes, like North Carolina, whose “Carolina Blue” is the best selling colour of any college, never allows alternate colours unless they are for a particular supported charity.   My Duke Royal Blue hat is off to you !!!

 

Point #2:

Does Duke’s problems with Nike shoes, that continues into this year, mean Nike is an inferior product ???

Bill:                 

When you reference Duke foot problems, the first player I think about is Kyrie Irving’s toe in 2011.  In reality, the number of Duke injuries is well documented in Steve Fortosis’s 2013 article. He lists the all the players starting with Bobby Hurley in February 1992 to MP3, 7 of these were breaks to the 5th metatarsal bone, see link below:

http://dukereport.com/duke-basketball/duke-basketball-foot-injuries-sfortosis/

Last season, Duke lost Amile Jefferson and this year Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum to ankle or foot injuries.

Duke is not the only school affected by foot problems. UNC has had some recent foot injuries.   Who is their contract with ???  Nike.

Nike is not alone in complaints, ESPN blamed Adidas for Bull’s star Derrick Rose problems.

To me the number of injuries from a shoe product is more than a blip on a chart.  I question the quality of Nike’s product and I propose an in depth review by doctors, athletes, weekend warriors and schools with an emphasis on the athlete not the dollars.

Bermuda Bob:        

My daughter is a marathon runner and cross-trainer.  She has a certain brand of shoe she wears and simply will not wear anything else. She has tried other shoes, and profoundly dislikes Nike because of their fit and foot bed.

So, with that in mind, I have always wondered:

What would happen if a player simply refused to wear a team’s sponsor’s shoe ???

Would he be forced to wear a shoe he does not wish to, especially if he had good reason ???

I would sincerely hope not, but something tells me I’m wrong, and that’s contrary to the benefit of the player !!!

Your comments about the propensity for the same injury speaks volumes, but unfortunately, I fear such statistics would fall on deaf ears, and that’s a shame that a player’s welfare might be subverted to a sponsorship contract.

Point #3:        

Duke has had a long history of players looking like All American kids.  This year’s team picture is with the guys showing their style, but in the same suits.  What’s with Tatum’s engraved thunderbolt, or whatever it’s supposed to be ???

Bill:

Are we such old fogies, that we can’t accept a little individualism in team sports ???  In 1970s, “Pistol Pete” Maravich rang up the scoreboard and showed off fantastic passing skills along with his mop hairstyle.  Several years ago, Gonzaga’s Morrison wore bangs that looked as if they would block his vision, yet he was a prolific scorer.  For football fans, who can forget Pittsburg Steeler’s hard nosed safety Troy Polamalu.  His dreadlocks that drew all kinds of comments and ultimately a change to the rule book.  If you aren’t a sports fanatic, then you may have seen TV Simpsons and their creative hairdos.

If you look at Duke roster pictures dating back to 2007, players show clean cut hairstyles with some players sporting a little facial hair.  Then came 2010, Zoubek may have set the tone for future Duke player individualism with his beard.  Duke’s most recent National Championship team stood out from all prior teams – Winslow, Okafor and Cook each had unique hair styles.

Other basketball coaches allow their players to wear headbands. I don’t like the individual statements today’s players try to make, but I’ll leave it up to the coaches.

Bermuda Bob:        

Ah yes, I plead guilty as charged … I am an old foggy !!!   I routinely wear coordinated colours, and am a fussbudget when it comes to my hair, beard, and handlebar mustache.  I’m somewhat unique with that look, just like the kids are these days.  Lastly, I flatly refuse to wear logos … After all, they are not paying me to advertise for them.

Marketing Majors like myself often argue which was the greatest marketing ploy ever.  Many believe it was when Nike made it “cool” to wear their logo emblazoned across the chest.  Thus, they had people paying to wear their logo and advertising for Nike !!!

Back to Duke, I think Matt “Cazzie” Jones looks great in his beard, but if you can’t grow a proper one, you ought to keep your razor.  Straggle or stubble is not a beard, and that razor ought to be employed.   I don’t mind new and different hairstyles as long as they do not impact performance.  After all, our generation saw some pretty great looking afro’s.  Who will ever forget Dr. J’s !!!

I can remember when Baseball players with extra long locks in the 70’s were considered to have an “abnormal extension” in the event that a pitch hit those locks. No base awarded !!!

I understand that no coach will allow a headband unless it is supplied by the school’s sponsor and emblazoned with their logo.  Some guys turn it around and I like that, but there’s only one way to wear a headband – like Wilt Chamberlain did, functionally, and not as a uniform accouterment !!!

Lastly, I need to address Jason Tatum’s “thunderbolt” engraved into the side of his head hair.  As my Granddaughter would say: “Ah, No !!!”   No previous Duke player ever felt the need to make himself stand out this way, and no Duke player ought to do it.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say later in the season …

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Thanks for reading !!!

We invite you to comment here, or on our Twitter site: 

@Simply Duke BB

Look for Points #4 thru #7 tomorrow !!!

SDBB: An Inside Look at the “Countdown to Craziness” Weekend

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Cameron Crazies and fans of the Duke Blue Devils cheer during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Thanks to a friend of Simply Duke Basketball, we have a rare opportunity to see what this year’s “Countdown to Craziness” weekend was like …

Bill Wheeler, a Fuqua School of Business graduate, and his lovely wife, Marcy made a weekend of the event. We thank them for this very special insight …

Around 9PM, Friday night, my wife and I drove to the Washington Duke Inn and ate at the Bull Durham bar.  As we approached the turn in to the hotel, we could not help notice a new multilevel parking deck near completion on Cameron Boulevard.   The bar was filled, yet we found two barstools in the corner.  We talked to a Waitress and Manager about the number of patrons.  They thought there was a Lacrosse reunion, and that “Countdown to Craziness” brought in the late evening patrons.

As we left the bar, we could not help notice 2 towering men standing in the foyer. It was Jeff Capel and Nate James.  I got my wife to follow me a few feet down the hallway, and told her who the men were.   Of course, I wanted to ask them some questions, but I realized they need their own relaxation, so we drove back to our off campus motel.

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Saturday morning, we visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and at Marcy’s suggestion, we took in an afternoon horseback trail ride in Hillsboro.

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As we drove onto campus and turned right on Towerview Drive next to the Sanford School, we could not help but notice another new building with open glass, the Health and Wellness Center.  We parked and walked towards “K’ville” around 4:30 pm.  “K’ville” was alive with inflatable bouncing machines, a DJ, face painting and a gathering of Cameron Crazies.

We stopped to talk to a Security Guard and she gave us a brief tour, describing changes to the outside of Cameron.  As we waited to enter the front of Cameron, one fan voiced their displeasure of the new Cameron look. Yes, I agree the nostalgia is gone.

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The wooden arches just below the stone portico are gone and wooden doors are now enclosed.  Just after the second set of doors is a separate set of stairs to enter a new Iron Duke’s Champions Club.  My finances left me short to contribute the minimum annual for that club.

As we entered Cameron, some fans next to us said they did not like the new look of the Cameron entrance.  Yes, we agreed …

As we walked through the doors, security gates and staff greeted each fan.  It reminded me of entering a local Court building, yet with today’s threats we had some sense of comfort.

Congrats to the Duke staff for this improvement !!!

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Duke student and Chinese yo-yo specialist Felix Kung performs during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

The pre-team entertainment ranged from Felix Kung “The Yo-Yo Guy”, who is actually a Duke student … 30 seconds to make 4 baskets for $10K … Pizza box throws from the 4 corners of the gym floor, to the JC Devils doing a modern dance, etc.

As the Duke Navy ROTC entered the gym with the American flag, all the Duke “A- Cappella” singers gathered on the opposite side of Mid-Court and did a great job of singing the National Anthem.  It was a special moment with the blue horn lights shining and all the fans standing.  Thank goodness I didn’t see any “Kolin ‘dis-respectfuls.'” !!!

The gym floor was used as a projector screen for video and laser introductions of the team and players.  This was similar to last year and each player got great appreciation from the crowd.

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From there the scrimmage felt a little anti-climatic.  The audio sound may have been changed for the player intros and it was not readjusted making it difficult to hear announcements for the rest of the evening.

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Chase Jeter #2 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball against Marques Bolden #20 during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

The Blue and White teams played 2 – 10 minute periods.  Freshman Jayson Tatum showed great slashing and scoring ability.  To my surprise, Chase Jeter seemed to have the upper hand in guarding Marques Bolden for 15 of the 20 minutes.  Amile Jefferson appeared to be hungry and scrapped for every loose ball.  At one moment towards the end of the scrimmage, a hush came over the entire crowd as Grayson Allen ended up spread-eagle to block a pass and collided with Amile’s legs near mid court sideline.  Fortunately, Amile was able to walk off without injury.

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 22: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on during Countdown To Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 22, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Sean Obi and Harry Giles did not make it to the floor   We know about Harry’s continued knee problems, and later discovered that Obi had had knee surgery this summer.

In past years, the star player for either the Blue or White would have been swapped to the other team for the 2nd Period.  That was not done this year, leaving this fan with the need to see more games before determining the real caliber of this 2016-17 basketball team.

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Bill Wheeler has a wonderful story about his connection to Duke Basketball.  

Look forward to our Bio on him sometime soon !!!

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Thanks for joining us for this very special report …

Please, as always, feel free to comment on our thoughts, either here, or at out Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB