SDBB: Looking at Duke’s First Big Dance Weekend, and a Look Forward to the Sweet 16

SDBB - On to Sweet 16

Tonight, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob take a look back at Duke’s first weekend in the Big Dance, and then look forward to the challenges that present themselves in the Sweet 16:

Query #1:

On Thursday, Duke needed an exemplary 2nd Half performance from “Plums” (9 of 10 shooting, plus 5 of 6 from the Charity Stripe) to prevail over a very talented UNC-Wilmington team that led by 3 at the Half.  Was there anything else that you’d point to as the reason why they won ???

Bermuda Bob:             

As I’ve said before, “Plums” is the toughest of the 3 brothers.  He rose to the occasion, taking advantage of the UNC-W “bigs” fouling out practically en masse.  Brandon and Grayson added 20 and 23 respectfully, but it was Grayson’s 15 of 17 shooting from the Charity Stripe that was a wonderful help.  

Rowan: 

There was a lot of whispering that this was a potential upset in the making, and it almost was, until Duke realised that they were bigger and started playing like that.

Query #2:

In that Thursday game, 51 Fouls were whistled under these new contact rules.  Since WE don’t get fined, or sanctioned, for stating our mind, what was your opinion of the officiating ???

Bermuda Bob:             

This was an abomination, especially considering that they were so inconsistent.  I’m not saying that they weren’t equally abdominal to both teams, but they routinely made calls for a violation that they didn’t call the next time it happened.  An identical Charge was called only 3 of 5 times.   I am hoping that those Refs are NOT allowed to work another game !!! 

Rowan: 

That was a lot of whistling, but it didn’t hinder Duke, this time, thankfully.

Query #3:

In this game “Plums” and Matt Jones fouled out.  Duke got only a modicum of assistance from Chase Jeter in 11 minutes on the floor, relying on a 4 Guard Line-Up.  Do you think Duke can prevail against the caliber of teams left with this solution ???

Bermuda Bob:             

In a word, NO !!!  If you look at most of the teams that prevailed into the Sweet 16, you will note that they play a full accompaniment of credible players.  Coach K has refused to play his Bench this season, thus he only had one proven player available to him, and he won’t play him.   Thus, he is short handed and his team is prone to getting “puffed” by the 10 minute mark.   I do not see that as plaguing anyone else in the Sweet 16.

Rowan: 

UNC-Wilmington utilised a 4 Guard Line-Up, so this was the perfect team for Duke to play this way against, considering the Blue Devils were bigger anyway.  I think that any 4 Guard Line-Up that Duke utilises has to have versatile defender, Matt Jones in it against any other team.

Query #4:

In the next game, against Yale, Duke had to overcome a Yale team they had beaten earlier in the year at home, but then Amile Jefferson was playing a large part.  Duke got out to an incredible start, leading by 23 at the Half, only to see Yale outscore Duke 39-23 in the 2nd Half.  What do you make of this game ???

Bermuda Bob:             

Do you remember the old children’s rhyme about the 3 Little Pigs ???  “… not by the hair on your chinny chin-chin.” ???   Well, that’s about all that Duke had left to hold on to keep from losing … the non-existent hair on the chin of a pig.   The only saving grace was that Yale had much too much to make up and too little time so to do.   

Rowan:   

Ingram and Allen started off hot which gave Duke a comfortable lead.  We now know of Plumlee’s heroics behind the scenes, encouraging his teammates to not give up.  He was also pretty good on the Court. Even though he only scored 2 Points, he hit the Boards and blocked 5 Shots.  Matt Jones may have Fouled Out, but between he and Derryk Thornton, they corralled Yale’s Makai Mason into a 2-of-12 outing. 

Query #5:          

Duke was soundly out-rebounded by Yale on both the Offensive and Defensive sides, primarily because “Plums” was outnumbered, regardless of his best efforts.  Considering that this will be the norm going forward, how do they prevail against the likes of Oregon, who logged 44 and 35 Rebounds in their previous games ???

Bermuda Bob:             

The conundrum exists that the more Duke tries to aid “Plums” with the present Starting Line-up, the more they commit Fouls.  Inasmuch as Coach K is not going to rotate all 4 “bigs,” he is left with only a 4 Guard Line-up to go to.   That won’t be enough, I fear.   Only a consistent pair of Halves shooting lights out will give Duke the chance they need to prevail.

Rowan: 

Rebounding is indeed an issue for Duke, and it has been all season, but this Duke team wins by outscoring it’s opponents.  By now we have to accept this.

Rebounding is a skill that Duke players just do not have.  They think out- jumping their opponent is the best way to do this, but it isn’t always so.  I was always taught that as soon as the Shot goes up to put a body on the closest Defender, thus preventing them from getting to the ball.  Then go for the rebound when the ball is safely off the Rim. Many people know this as “Boxing Out.”

Ingram and Plumlee will always out-jump anyone for a Rebound due to the latter’s size and the former’s athleticism.  What happens when they meet someone Like Zack August who Boxes Out like a champion, or Tyler Roberson the human pogo stick ??? Both of these players had record games, on the Boards, against Duke.

I have only seen one player who Boxes Out consistently, and that is seldom used Sean Obi.

Query #6:

It was more than insinuated by the CBS Commentators that Duke had the easiest ride to the Sweet 16 of the majority of the teams that who also got there.   What do you make of that assertion ???

Bermuda Bob:             

Well, Duke got lucky when Yale beat Baylor, a team that Duke did not match up against favourably.  I would note that there might be some credence to that argument, once again, only because of that Baylor early exit.

As an aside, considering that the Selection Committee put Kentucky and Indiana in each other’s paths, because of the refusal of “Cal-the-Lip” to schedule a Home-and-Home arrangement.   Considering Coach K’s expressed objection to ever schedule Maryland, I surely would have thought Duke and Maryland might have been placed in the same Region. Thus, creating the possibility they may cross paths in a match of former rivals.  Once again, the Selection Committee proved that all they are consistent about is their being inconsistent !!!

Rowan: 

You can only beat whoever is in front of you and worrying about anything else is futile.

Query #7:

Speaking of the CBS Commentators, whom we will have to endure for 2 more weekends, who were your favourites, and who do you wish were not around next week ???

Bermuda Bob:             

Once again, CBS has tried to put around peg in a square hole.  They insist on trying to prove that NBA Commentators are capable of doing college basketball.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Just because it’s basketball does not mean it is the same game.   All year long we listen to ESPN Commentators, but when it comes to the National Championship, with the exception of 4 or 5 guys, we are forced to deal with idiots and imbeciles.

The best team is still Jim Spinarkle and Vern Lundquist, while the best trio is Raftery, Grant Hill, and Nantz.  When the rest of them are on, I wish I could listen to the radio and watch the game to get better Commentators.  The worst team were the guys Ian Eagle was saddled with … Len “I Hate Duke” Elmore and Chris “No Time Outs Left” Webber are masters of useless, idiotic, and over-used observations.  Doug Gottlieb, on the other hand believes that because he sez it, it is gospel.   Last but not least are the NBA Studio people, who routinely prove that they are making it up as they go along.  They prove it each time they must speak without notes in their hand.

Rowan: 

Their insistence in using guys who aren’t familiar with the College Basketball landscape beyond the popular players has been simply unforgivable to the well-heeled fans.  As March Madness has many casual fans, I suppose this works for them to see a familiar face.

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SDBB: The ACC Conference Season is Over: So … NOW, What Do We Think ???

Thinker w_Cloud

Tonight, with the ACC Conference Season over, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss their impressions of the Duke team 

… and …

Look forward to the ACC Tournament

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Query #1:

Do you have any reflections on this year’s ACC Conference Season ???

Bermuda Bob:        

After the unfortunate injury of Amile in practice on the 12th of December, Duke was never the same.  They went 4 & 4 in January.  They went 6 & 2 in February, but, they only beat Virginia by one (1) Point on an acrobatic buzzer beater by Grayson Allen, and only by one (1) more Point due to a coaching error at UNC.  They swapped wins with Louisville and got embarrassed at PITT.  They went 1 & 1 in March.  This was not the team anyone expected after the highlighted recruiting.

Rowan: 

The conference was pretty competitive, this year. Duke finished with an 11-7 record but they were in every game except one (1) and that was the 14 point loss to PITT.  Duke may have finished middle of the pact, or 4th with Louisville’s “dislodgement,” but they were one or two moves away from the top.

Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram have played some exceptional games.  With the injury to Amile it is a wonder they didn’t lose much more.  These guys have proven to be very resilient and it was a pleasure to cheer for them.

Marshall Plumlee has been a revelation at times.  Derryck Thornton has probably lost all confidence in his go-to mid-range shot, but there is no better ball hound on Defense, than he in the conference.

Matt Jones got injured, yet even though he is still visibly hobbled, he is still competing.  There is no doubt that Luke Kennard will set some records at Duke, but right now his Jekyll and Hyde act is limiting him.  The more he plays, the more confidence he will have in his abilities.

Query #2

What’s your biggest question about what you saw this conference season ???

Bermuda Bob:        

The biggest question loomed around why Coach K insisted that he had a “short Bench” when he had a full accompaniment of 3 replacements to, at least, ameliorate Amile’s absence.  He had:

(A) Chase Jeter, who turned out to be a highly over-rated faulty flop.  His hands were terrible, he averaged a Personal Foul every 4.34 minutes or 1.74 per game.  He was a hot mess, but Coach K played him 204 minutes in 27 games.

(B) Former proven Rebounder, Sean Obi but inexplicably only played him 21 minutes in only 9 games.

(C) Frosh Antonio Vrankovic played 14 minutes in 5 games.

When I put the question to Duke two (2) “beat reporters” my replies were:

Steve Wiseman:   “OBJECTION Asked and answered counselor.  He’s not ready to compete at this level in staff’s opinion.  The end.” and then he blocked us on Twitter.

Laura Keeley:   ” … they’re not good enough.  Move on from that …”  

Obviously, both are afraid to ask a follow-up question to clarify such a ridiculous assertion, especially when …

Duke was getting killed in the Paint game after game after game.  Sunday’s season finale against UNC was the worst, as Duke was out-rebounded 58 to 26.  One Carolina Player pulled down 21 Rebounds while the Duke Starters only had 22 !!!   If there is anyone out there who doesn’t think my questions are valid, then we’re not watching the same Duke team …

Rowan: 

Yes it is baffling that one of the best coaches in the business couldn’t find some minutes off his Bench.  Duke’s biggest weakness was in the Front Court and they just happen to have 3 guys 6’8″ or taller on the Bench, but couldn’t get anything out of them.  One was given numerous opportunities to prove himself, while they didn’t even bother with the other two.

I guess this is hard to comprehend because the days of stashing players on the Bench for later development seems to be well and truly behind us with Coach K fully invested in the ‘one and done’ culture.  As fans, we have come to expect each scholarship recruit to earn his spot from day one.

We expected Sean Obi to be a beast on the glass but from the moment the season started he was on the outside looking in when Coach K designated him a “9th player” in a matter of fact way, at the season opening Press Conference.  Since then Obi has clearly been out of favour and we can safely write him off for this season.

Just before the UNC game I spent half an hour watching Duke’s layup lines and while all the players used every opportunity to practice game shots, coupled in with a few show time dunks (they are all kids after all!) all Jeter did was try impress with his dunks.  We may have been told that Obi and Antonio were not ready, however Jeter has proven he isn’t.

 Query #3:

Do you have any thoughts about Duke, going into their 2nd Round game on Wednesday at 2PM EST ???

 Bermuda Bob:

I do not hold out much hope for this team to move very far forward. Duke has had a very obvious stamina problem all season long.  It is because Coach K has played his Starters, or his 5 hottest players without a “blow” throughout conference season.  The result has been that around the 10 minute mark in the 2nd Half, Duke shows tired legs.  Shots are left short or carom wildly off the back of the Rim. Duke has struggled especially in the Paint, often leaving “Plums” triple teamed, regardless of his best efforts.  He was given no help from the Bench. I simply don’t see them playing 4 days in a row against teams they have lost to.

If they win their first match, they draw Notre Dame … should they win there, they play either ‘Cuse or UNC … I don’t see it happening.  The only variable would be playing Obi and Antonio about 10 minutes a game, but unless Coach K is playing the ACC version of “lopelee” it’s not in the cards.

Rowan: 

I think that Duke can go far in the ACC Tournament, and they would need to if they are to retain that projected #4 seed in the NCAA tournament.  All 5 Players just need to hit those boards. Playing only 2 or 3 outside, and not 4 players on the perimeter, with Plumlee inside.  Mix up the Offense.  Duke is too good a Free Throw shooting team to be settling for 3 Pointers.

Also, whenever Thornton makes a mistake he gets yanked but other players are not beholden to that process.  He is a “score-first” Point Guard that needs the shackles to be removed.  Let him lose a la Nolan Smith !!!  Especially when the other team plays man-to-man, because not many Guards can keep up with him.

Query #4:

Are you happy with the Post Season Awards ???

Rowan:

On the face of it I thought Allen deserved to win most improved player but when I looked at the statistics closer for Jaron Blossomgame it appears his playing time increased minimally while his scoring and shooting percentages improved drastically. A deserved win.

Bermuda Bob:

I was happy with where everyone landed. At first, I was curious about Grayson Allen not being named #1, but upon seeing that Malcomb Brogdon won it, I could not question it. Hopefully, Grayson will come back next year to win it !!!

BTW: The GoDuke claims that Grayson & Jaron were names co-most improved … maybe an afterthought, eh ???

Query #5:

Anything else you would like to add ???

Rowan:

Eight (8) years of Plumlees came to an end in Cameron Indoor with the loss to UNC last week.  I challenge you to find another set of brothers in the last two decades who has been more productive than the Plumlees.  The O’Bannon brothers won a Championship for UCLA while the Plumlees won 2 for Duke.

Marshall will probably not be an All American like Mason but without him (Marshall) Duke probably would not be looking at a bid this season.

Marshall has come a very long way from his Freshman season, and if Duke is to go far in the tournament they will need him to be very productive.

Bermuda Bob:

When I first heard that all 3 Plumlee brothers were going to play at Duke, I nick named them the “PlumTrees” as an homage to what looked like 3 wonderful boys, and, instead of trying to remember who was who, I named them #1 = Miles, #2 = Mason, and #3 = Marshall.   WOW, over a millions dollars of tuition saved by their parents, but moreover, they were kids any parent would be proud of !!!

I have said it before, so I might as well say it one more time … I do not believe that either #1 or #2 fulfilled the reason of their recruitment.  Both were not major role players in their Championships, but interestingly, both became much better players in the NBA.  That might go to the knock on Coach K that he has really never known how to play/coach “Bigs” … well, until he got “Oaks” last year.

I think #3, or “Plums” as I came to call him, benefited greatly from having been the practice partner to “Oaks” and it showed on plenty of occasions this season.  I think he was by-far a tougher player than his big brothers.  He always hustled, never gave up trying to score until he was fouled, and played both sides of the Court.   I think he became much more important to this team than his brothers before him.  Unfortunately, he very rarely had enough help down low, or he might have sparkled even more.

I applaud Marshall for his patriotism, but I will always wonder what would have become of him in the NBA. Maybe someday …

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SDBB: Duke Ruins a Nice Sunday Afternoon at PITT, Creating More Questions Than Answers

Questions & Answers

By Bermuda Bob

Ro didn’t get today’s game, so you’re stuck with me and my thoughts on one of the most embarrassing and frustrating outings I can recall in recent Duke history.   As Betty Davis once observed:

“Fasten Your Seatbelts, Were Going to Have a Bumpy Ride” …

Today was a beautifully sunny and unusually warm February Sunday where we live.   We opened the windows to allow the warm natural air into our place to switch-out the winter stuffiness.  It was a welcomed treat.   I wish I could have furthered the treat with an exemplary Duke performance.   It was not to be …

Duke came into Petersen Events Center to meet PITT and all 12 of their players who would contribute to a complete and utter thumping.  Of those 12 were 5 Seniors who were fêted on Senior Afternoon.

PITT needed a win to bolster their resume for the Big Dance and Duke needed to prove that many of their recent wins were not a fluke.   I’m pretty sure the former was accomplished, but I’m not so sure about the latter.

From the very start, PITT would shoot “lights out,” scoring the first 10 points, and never looked back.  They would enjoy as much as a 13 Point lead.   PITT continued their abuse until Brandon Ingram began a run that would bring Duke to within 39-32 at the Half.

PITT started off the 2nd Half just like the 1st … They quickly scored often to return their lead to double digits.  Duke tried to counter but never got closer than a 10 Point margin, then try as they did, tired legs and fatigue reared it’s ugly head as it has in just about every conference season game.  PITT went on a 16-3 run.  Shots were left short on the rim, or long, caroming off the back of the rim, or even caught nothing but air.

Here are the ugly facts of the game:

REBOUNDING:

“Plums” was not allowed to even think of shooting, and he only grabbed 4 Rebounds of Duke’s paltry 20 for the game.  PITT would grab 39 by contrast, 23 of them on the Offensive Boards that often were put backs for scores.

Admittedly, “Plums” was practically always triple teamed.  Unfortunately, he was offered no help.  He was replaced with Chase Jeter, who committed 2 quick Fouls, a Turnover, and a missed shot in another poor outing.  He only lasted 9 minutes in total on the Court.

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Question the Answers

I might as well get this off my chest now.  I must wonder why Sean Obi was not inserted.  He is a wide-bodied proven Rebounder in his previous life at Rice, and while Rice is not Duke, a Rebounder is a Rebounder in any circumstance !!!

I posted an open inquiry on Twitter today during the game, asking jointly Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald-Sun, and Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer:

“When are you going to ask Coach K why he refuses to play Obi ???

You’re not afraid, are you ???

Keeley did not reply, but Wiseman, to his credit, did:

“OBJECTION Asked and answered counselor.  He’s not ready to compete at this level in staff’s opinion.  The end.”

I must admit that I believe there is much more to it than such a guarded vanilla response.

PLEASE NOTE:          As I could not find an e-mail address for Mr. Wiseman both on his Twitter site and at his newspaper, I tweeted him, asking for an e-mail response if he objected to our using his quote.   His response was to Block us on Twitter.   We received no e-mail response.  It is an curiously illogical action that causes more questions than were already on the table !!!

I fully understand that Beat Reporters serve at the pleasure of the programme, and that there is always a replacement waiting in the wings.  I also understand respect for Coach K.  I pay attention to wordings.  Mr. Wiseman indicated in his Tweet that it was the opinion of the Staff, so why not a more probative query ???   The Staff is not Coach K, and if they are allowed to comment, they ought to be probed to a respectful degree.

To Mr. Wiseman and Miss KeeleyDon’t the you realize that you are supposed to be the the eyes and ears of the programme for the fans ???  You have the opportunity to be the voice of the fans who read your efforts.   Don’t your readers deserve your best efforts in getting ALL reasonable questions answered ???

Don’t you realize that when you don’t ask probative questions for odd answers, you fuel conjecture, and even conspiracy theories, that often make some modicum of sense ???

Because neither of you have asked probative questions, our readers have wondered things like if  “Coach K’sDog House”  really exists and why a player gets into it.  One reader took it in another direction, wondering if Obi caused Amile’s injury in practice.

Coach K has asserted that he doesn’t have enough players for practice.  The last time I looked, he had 13 players dressing, and one (1) injured.  I may be missing something, but that’s 12 players when only 10 are needed to play a Blue & White game, or Practice !!!

There, you’ve just been given questions that make sense and have easy answers.   See, that’s how it’s done !!!

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Further to the game and the season, Coach K has consistently given Jeter a chance to prove himself, and he has failed on most outings.  So, why didn’t Obi, or even Antonio Vrankovic, get a chance, especially when “Plums” was being so neutralized ???

The most glaring example of Coach K’s resistance to play his Bench, was exemplified by 2 facts:

(1)  At one point in the 2nd Half, with Jeter ineffective, as usual, Ingram played the #5 Spot.

(2)  When the game was obviously lost, he refused to insert anyone, leaving Starters on the Court with a 14 Point differential.

I must admit that I was unsettled to read in the The Chronicle that Coach K commented that:

“We could not muster up anything today.  They’re big in every way …  It’s not like we didn’t expect it. We couldn’t stop it.”

Such reticence is both unsettling and unbecoming, even for the greatest coach of the modern college basketball era, whom I respect greatly.  If you aren’t going to play a kid, why then, did you bother to recruit him and give him a uniform ???

While I’m speaking about Legends, I’ll refer you to another – Dick Vitale, who a few games ago commented that any kid worth recruiting, and being given a uniform, ought to be allowed to contribute 10 minutes a game.  Such logic is refreshing.  As a Senior Statesman of College Basketball, I believe he was trying to convey a message to Coach K.  Apparently, it was either never received, or ignored out of hand.

SCORING:

Duke shot a meager 34.4% from outside the Arc and 37.5% inside … pathetic by any yardstick. They were soundly outscored in the Paint, 24-6, while throwing up 32 Trifectas, making only 11.  By comparison, PITT shot 50% from outside the Arc and 40% inside.  The only statistic where Duke prevailed was at the Charity Stripe where they logged an impressive 93.8% to PITT’s 80%

ET CETERA

Duke committed 13 TurnOvers, and helped themselves with only 10 Assists.

One continuing aspect of Duke’s Offense is that they rarely seem to be running “plays.”  Instead, they depend on ball movement and individual prowess.  So, if everyone is flat, then what do they do next ???  Today was that “next” !!!

It’s time to be frank …

In the last 5 games, Duke has lost to PITT and Louisville, both teams soundly beat them on the Boards … They beat a sub-par Florida State … They beat Virginia on a buzzer beater, and North Carolina on a coaching error … Each by only one (1) Point.

In each and every Duke game, they run out of gas at the 10-minute mark, plus or minus.  The Bench is never used, and only Kennard and Jeter are.  Kennard has had some splendid games, but Jeter has been a first class dud.

Amile is not coming back this year. I believe he will apply for an Injury Red Shirt and anchor next year’s squad along with Matt.  While last year’s hue and cry, after Rasheed was dismissed, was that “8 is Enough” … The same can’t be said for #6 or #7, especially when #7 is a clunker.

We can never forget that when a team brings in Frosh and makes them Starters, unless they are incredibly formidable like last year’s trio, they’re fitness will never be equal to upperclassmen who have had the benefit of the Duke fitness regimen during the entire year.

Playing kids more does not condition them, it wears down their core.  Remember when Interns were required to work an incredible number of hours continuously ???   Well, those practices have been cut back, and safeguards installed because it has been found that tired bodies cause tired minds, and neither can perform to their optimum.

Additionally, while “Plums” has had his moments, it has always been against lesser competition. The worst thing his teammates can do in a game is hit him in the hands with the ball. Nevertheless, I respect him much more than I ever did his brothers.  They were expected to be more than they accomplished, but Marshall had lesser expectations and has become so much more.

Grayson and Brandon are the stars, but they are not superstars.  Neither can put the team on his back and grind out a win.   Matt does his best, but often, like today, he is unable to compensate for Amile, who could compensate for “Plums” when he leaves the Paint to cover someone, or to set one of those goofy Picks around the Arc that often have no affect.

The brightest spots in this year’s team, for me, are Luke and Derryck.  They show promise in their continued improvement.

Lastly, nothing I have said here makes me any less of a die-hard Duke fan of over 35 years, but as such, I believe that I have earned the right to be frank and honest.  Nothing I have said here ought to be construed in any other way.  If someone like me cannot make candid and forthright observations, then who can ???

As for Mr. Wiseman and Miss Keeley, if you don’t like comments, then don’t Tweet as Reporters.  You have no right to either hide behind blocked Tweets, or to refuse to provide an e-mail address.  You owe the reading public the right to reach you if you want them to read what you put up.  A Reporter reports the news for public consumption.  Without consumers, you are out of a job.  I’d gladly switch places with either of you tomorrow !!!

Thank you for allowing me to say my piece.  We appreciate your “read” and welcome your comments either here, or on Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

We promise to never block you unless you are vulgar or ungentlemanly !!!

 

As Always, Rock On !!!

Bermuda Bob

SDBB: After a 4 & 4 Conference Record, Can Duke Right This Ship After a Series of Very Un-Duke-Like Performances ???

01052016-What-give-you-the-idea-csli 

Considering that we’ve seen so many naysayers and faire-weather fans who believe that Duke’s season is sunk, today, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob address the topics everyone is talking about.

Here goes …

 

Topic #1:   Amile’s Injury & Return

Everyone thinks Amile returning is going to turn this team around.  

How can that possibly be ???

Rowan:

This all sounds great until you realise that Amile played against Utah and Kentucky. Then, couple that with the fact that Duke has yet to play 4 of the top ACC teams. That’s not to mention there is no telling what kind of condition Amile may be in. I say that is “Fool’s Gold.”

Bermuda Bob:

All the conditioning in the world to keep the rest of Amile as close to playing shape as possible are for naught because it can’t replace Court time.   Timing and the “shooting eye” are just two aspects to consider.  Yes, Amile’s on-the-Court leadership will return, but there are so many intangibles that I don’t expect an immediate impact.

One thing that no one seems to want to consider is that Coach K won’t be able to force Amile into 30+ minutes a game without exponentially risking re-injury.   That presumes that Amile can overcome the natural instinct to protect against re-injuring himself.

Look, both of us have loved this guy going back to his protracted recruitment. He was a major role player in last year’s National Championship, especially considering his Defense against Wisconsin.   I just don’t see him as the “knight in shining armour” to this programme that has many other problems. 

Topic #2:   The Failure of Chase Jeter

Everyone thinks Jeter deserves more chances when his play has been abysmal.  

What about giving Obi & Antonio the same type of opportunity ???  

Don’t they deserve the same consideration ???

Rowan:

Jeter’s issues go beyond figuring out his position in the Zone. As things stand right now, it looks like Jeter was minding his business last week and someone came up to him and said “Heh you are quite tall, you should play basketball …” … now here he is.

Bermuda Bob:

About 9-10 years ago, on a bit of a dare, I once played golf attired all in various shades of pink. I even played a pink golf ball.  On the 1st Tee, the Ranger, was hard of hearing, so he never realized he was speaking much too loudly to the Starter.   So, every one of the 8 of us heard him loud and clear.   As I approached the Tee,we all heard him say: “I hope he has game enough for that get up.”   Well, have to admit the pressure was on, and I (luckily) crushed my Drive to within Wedge range on the short Par 4, 1st Hole.  I chipped it close for a tap-in Birdie.  I then turned around to the Ranger, who was following us, and asked him: “… that enough game for you ???”   He sheepishly tipped his hat to me and we never saw him again.

When I first saw Chase Jeter and his Bedlington Terrier style haircut, my reaction was the same as that Ranger.  I hoped he had the “game” that allowed him to make himself look so foolish.

Well, since then, he has not done a single thing to dissuade me.  He has played 131 minutes in 17 games, scoring only 28 Points and pulling down only 29 Rebounds.  He’s also committed 14 TurnOvers in those 131 minutes, meaning he’ll turn the ball over every 9+ minutes.

One article, by Chris Bunn of 247Sports, claims that: Jeter has played 28 minutes in conference play and he’s been whistled for 14 fouls.”  My count sez he has committed a total of 32 Fouls in 131 minutes of play, meaning that he’ll commit a Foul ever 4 minutes he’s on the floor.

So, if you put him on he floor, you’re guaranteed that he’ll give up a TurnOver and committ 2 Fouls !!!  Stats like that mean he ought to stay in the Locker Room …

I’m going to share a little secret.  Ro and I watch each game live, while commenting to each other on Viber in real time.  That’s why we’re rarely on Twitter during a game.  Ro is in London, England and I am in Pennsylvania.   I say this to note the sacrifice Ro makes to do this, as he is 5 hours ahead of us. That means a 7PM game starts at Midnight for him, and a 9PM game Tips Off at 2AM for him.   We text so as not to wake up his wife and son.

During many of those games we have shared anguish over Jeter. “Dud” is maybe the most gentlemanly thing we would share here.   Ro has asked who is personally responsible for ranking Jeter so high, and then, who recruited him to Duke ??? Those are frustrated queries for very good reason.

I think he ought to be banished to the Bench to cause no more harm.  Many other players ahead of him were relegated there after far less play, and subsequently transferred. Remember Alex, “Silent G,” and Semi ???

Note to Coach K:

Can you PLEASE explain why you extended a transfer scholarship to Sean Obi and recruited Antonio Vrankovic, but refuse to extend the same opportunity to play, and contribute to this team  as your have given Jeter ???

Even Dick Vitale has commented that he thought that any kid recruited ought to be able to contribute at least 10 minutes a game !!!   Let’s face it, both Obi and Antonio could not be as much of a liability, individually or together, as Jeter has been !!!   Actually, in those 21 minutes Obi has played, he has accomplished more statistically than Jeter !!!  Who knows what Antonio is capable of as he’s only gotten microscopic minutes.

 

Topic #3:   Only 6 Guys Playing …

How can only 6 guys be expected to handle the load of a season in one of America’s toughest conferences, especially when none of them played that many minutes last year ???

Rowan:

Some of the best college teams depend on a very short rotation. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Wichita State and maybe Virginia, but they do a very good job of finding a breather for their Starters who play big minutes.  There is, however, one important factor these teams have that differs from Duke immensely. These guys are Seniors.  Considering that the returning players on Duke were support players last season, and most of the other players were in high school last season, playing only 6 guys is not a great idea.

Bermuda Bob:

One of my favourite things to see in the past was when Coach K took up Coach Roy Williams’ practice of platooning his players. Now, for some unbeknownst reason, Coach K did not recruit the type of players that would allow him to do this, presently … well, unless he played his “Walk-On” players. 

So, when Coach K sees his players dragging their respective posteriours, how on earth does he expect them to shoot and play effective Defense with tired legs ???   As Ro points out, not one of these kids were Starters in the ACC last year, so how can we expect them to perform up to Duke standards when they collectively could envoke Scottie’s famous lament to Captain Kirk:

“Aye Captain … I don’t think the engines can handle the load !!!” 

 

Topic #4:    That Same Old Look !!!

There was no discernible difference between the look of Duke in the last 5 games.   If it has only worked in one game, doesn’t it stand to reason that a different offensive approach is on order ???

Rowan:

Other than jacking up too many 3 Pointers against Syracuse, Duke has a fine offense.  Their issues stem from the other end of the Court where guys are pacing themselves and playing to avoid Fouls.

Bermuda Bob:

Man-oh-man, have you said a mouthful !!!  How many times have we lamented that Duke was just jacking up shots without much circumspection ???  Up goes the shot, and no one even attempts an Offensive Rebound.  That was the original meaning of the “one-and-done.”

If I was able to show you the last 5 games, and blindfold you at selected spots in each game, then remove the blindfold, aside from the opposition uniforms, I bet you’d be unable to tell the difference. The only commonality is that they’d all be losses !!!

Sure, Coach K has employed a variety of Zone defenses, I simply do not see a congruous set of Offensive plays being run.

Not once …

… have I seen anyone even attempt a fall away shot like Seth perfected …

… have I seen Ingram posted at the Free Throw Line providing a double offensive threat of a give-and-go, or a pivot to the basket, or even a turn around shot from 15 feet …

… have I seen “Plums” and Obi (is he still on the team ???) present a “twin towers” look causing the defense to wonder who to double-team …

Come to think of it, I’ve only seen Obi in the blink of an eye (21 minutes), and Antonio even less.   How could both of these guys be more of a liability than Jeter ???

Topic #5:    Another Foot Problem in Those Nike Shoes …

This may not be an answer this year, but doesn’t the prolonged perpetuance of foot problems over recent years, and the fact that Duke genuflects at the foot of Nike (contractually), seem to have a strange coincidental ring to it ???

Rowan:

Nike are said to be the best in the business, but Ryan Kelly now Amile, small sample, maybe Duke should look into this more carefully. Better be safe than sorry.

Bermuda Bob:

Well, Ro, I’m going to dispute that Nike is the best in the business.  They might be the best at marketing themselves, or buying themselves into major programmes, or creating so many different uniforms for cuckold college players, but I question of they are the best shoe.  I can tell you that I know, first hand, that most intense athletes I have come across look elsewhere for their competitive footwear.   Sure, Nike makes collectible shoes, but are they equally designed to perform ???  I can’t wear Nike, and my marathoner daughter can’t either, nor can many of her contemporaries in her running club, so how good could Nike really be ???

Let’s look at this in recent times.  Start with Zoubs, then consider Kyrie, then move to “Plums” and then to Seth, on to Ryan, a problem for “Oaks” … and now to Amile.   That may be just 7 guys, but in the real world, that’s considered a trend !!!

I’ll admit it … I have a particular distain for Nike because they believe that they can dictate what teams will wear simply because of the $$$ they pay schools for the right to outfit their sports teams.  What I don’t understand is why those schools allow Nike to deviate from their school colours just to provide a 3rd uniform in an attempt to sell more fan memorabilia.  The idea emanated in European Futbol, and has now been employed in college basketball and other sports.

So, simple logic means that since they are more concerned with selling product to fans, they may very well be less concerned about the actual needs of the feet/legs of the players !!!   My empirical proof is the seemingly yearly resurgence of a foot injury to a Duke player.

Thank for the Read !!!

Do you agree, disagree, or have another point of view ??? 

Please tell us about it …

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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 ???

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

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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Thanks for the Read !!!

Please feel free to comment here or on our Twitter site:

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SDBB: “What Have We Learned So Far ???” after the 2K Title Game

SDBB - So ... What have we learned so far ???

Tonight, Bermuda Bob & Rowan Shiell discuss “What we have learned so far” in this very  young 2015-16 Duke season. 

Query #1

After the obvious choice of Grayson Allen, who has impressed you the most thus far ???

Bermuda Bob:

I actually have 2 guys … “Plums” and Amile“Plums” has played so much tougher than either of his big brothers ever did !!!

Amile has defined what a true Journeyman is.  He could be called the “garbage man” because he quietly gets things done without fanfare.   I think this Senior Leadership will pay long term premiums !!!

Rowan Shiell:

First of all, who saw this coming from Allen ??? Incredible !!!

I like Derryk Thornton’s poise. Expectations were raised when he forewent his Senior year of High School to join Duke early. He didn’t immediately have the success that was required of him, mainly because – even if people want to admit it or not – he will always be compared to Tyus Jones.

It was disappointing that Thornton wasn’t a Starter, and when he played, he didn’t exactly overwhelm.  In Duke’s first two games he was shooting 3-of-17.

Then against Kentucky, it became abundantly clear to Thornton that he could actually play with the best of them.  He literally matured before our eyes, but it wasn’t obvious because Kentucky won big.  That’s not to mention Tyler Ulis got the upper hand down the stretch, but then he (Ulis) is probably the best Point Guard in college basketball.

Next game, against VCU, he Started and scored 19.  Against Georgetown he dropped 14.  In the NBA you don’t need a Point Guard to win, but not in college basketball. It is a must !!!

Query #2

In Allen’s last game, against Georgetown, he shot 9/12 on 5/6 from 3 and went 9/9 at the Free Throw Line.  A more perfect game he may never have.  If he continues at something close to this pace, he’s the hands-own Player of the Year, but the real question is:  

Is his current play enough to win Duke an ACC and even a National Championship ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think the real question is to wonder how adaptable Grayson is.  JJ proved to us that a Duke Guard could score tonnes.  Grayson is multi-faceted.  He Rebounds and dishes Assists.  I wonder if other defenses can replicate what Kentucky accomplished.  Personally, I believe that Kentucky’s “bigs” did what “bigs” instinctively do … hands up and block shots.  The sheer size of their Front Line schooled Grayson.  It wasn’t something Kentucky needed their “recruiter-in-coach” to direct them to do.   He just enjoyed looking like he did.  The end result was that they gave Coach K plenty of fodder to help make his Sophomore a better player and leader !!!

Rowan Shiell:

No. As the young season has shown, Duke wins only when Allen has not just a good game, but a great game.  That is a high standard to uphold.   We know what we are going to get from Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee. Matt Jones looks like he can take on some more of the scoring load, however, if either Luke Kennard, and especially Brandon Ingram, cannot find their legs it is going to be a long season.

Remember, JJ Reddick used to be so run down by season’s end, he could barely get his “dukes” up for the tournament ???  That was the last time Duke had a player scoring 28 plus points a game.

Query #3:

Which Frosh has impressed (or not impressed) you the most ???

Bermuda Bob:

I think Thornton is maturing before our eyes.  I know that Ingram is in the mold of Kevin Durant, but he seems to get battered around when he penetrates.  It shows in his shots always being short.  Kennard finally found his shot on Sunday, and Jeter could be odd man out.

Rowan Shiell:

Have a guess who I think is the most impressive ???  Thornton is still learning, but I like his progress so far.  He has a good mid-range shot and he can hit the Three.  He just needs to get those Assist numbers up.  It does help if his teammates are making those shots too.

Query #4

What single factor do you think will define the rest of the non-conference season for Duke ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

While I think he has been forced to go to it because of the immaturity of his Frosh, I think Coach K’s acquiescence to go to a few Zone defenses will pay high premiums.  That 1-3-1 on Sunday was brilliant !!!  I almost changed the channel between a 1-3-1 defense and those horrid black uniforms made me wonder if I was really seeing Duke, or had I inadvertently switched channels ???

Rowan Shiell:

If the Georgetown game taught us anything, it was that 8 won’t do this season.  Now, with the propensity to Foul being far too easy to accomplish, I imagine Coach K will be looking to work another player into the rotation. It might be Chase Jeter, or Sean Obi.  I don’t know.  We saw Georgetown mount a furious comeback without Jefferson or Plumlee protecting the Rim.  Duke needs insurance against that happening again.

Query #5

Can Duke succeed with who they’ve got ???

Bermuda Bob:

Considering that Duke has the best College Coach of all time, I think he will have to “coach his brains out” because I think this is the biggest challenge he has had in all his years.  I honestly think he is up to it, and with the supporting coaching staff, I think they have the potential to go deep.  Remember, we have not yet seen the very deep bench, who are equally as talented.   It all hinges on leadership …

Rowan Shiell:

Yes, but Coach K is going to have to be on his “A” Game with this team. Right now, I have them middle of the pack in the ACC. Florida State has some great pieces, and Miami has been a revelation.  UNC should have Marcus Paige back by then, and even though they lost to UNI recently, they are still a dangerous team.  Even Wake jumped up and bit Indiana without their best player.  Then there is Notre Dame.

Most defenses are struggling under the new rules which are designed to promote scoring.  So, the best defensive system is now practically a good offense, and the ability to make Free Throws.

Bermuda Bob:

You are so right, my friend … Anyone remember when Vice Lombardi noted that “The best Defense is a good Offense” ???

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Introducing Duke’s Frosh: #14 Brandon Ingram

SDBB - #14 Brandon Ingram

As Coach K’s Freshmen-laden roster prepares for their first exhibition game on Friday night against Florida Southern, we’d like to introduce you to Duke’s Frosh for this season.

We’ll do it by the numbers … jersey numbers, that is.

So here is Ro’s next Profile … #14, Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram is the highest rated player in Duke’s 2015 Class, so there are some expectations that come with that title.  Standing at 6’9” with a wingspan of 7’3” he is clearly a physically gifted individual that.

Where does Duke need him ??? 

Duke needs Ingram to play to his strength, which is scoring.  Without Quinn Cook, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, the bulk of the Blue Devils’ scoring need to be replaced.  Ingram is a multi faceted scorer, in that he can score off the dribble, shoot the Three, or score in the Post.

Defensively Ingram should be able to be a lock-down defender. His foot speed is nothing to brag about but, with his length and reach, he should be able to either contain his defensive assignment, or recover in time to block or alter shots.

Who does he remind us of ??? 

Best Case Scenario:   Many have compared Ingram to Kevin Durant, who played Power Forward while he was at Texas.  It is easy to see this comparison and it has a lot of merit, as they are similar in measurements and size.

We do see a little of Luol Deng in him too. Both are of similar height, however at this stage Ingram has more range on his jumper.  Deng was a very good defender as well – something Ingram can aspire to, hopefully.

Jabari Parker was a much bigger player, but one can imagine that Duke will use Ingram in the same manner.

Worst Case Scenario:   Harrison Barnes had a good two seasons at North Carolina, but there were long periods where he just completely underwhelming, because what he could do, and was doing, was miles apart. 

Our Take … 

Duke will be a perimeter-based team this season and Ingram will be the star attraction.   Coach K says that Ingram has added 23 pounds of muscle, since he arrived on Campus two months ago, which should help in the Post.

There is currently no established go-to-guy, but Ingram should have plenty of opportunities to fill this role based on his raw talent, and the excitement with which his coach spoke of him.

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Watch for our next Frosh introduction right behind this guy.

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SDBB – “Ro on Recruiting” – This is Your 2015-16 Duke Blue Devils

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

In his 4th installment, Rowan Shiell outlines what Duke will look like next season and what they may look like beyond that …

Mike Krzyzewski is recruiting a lot of players in the Class of 2016 that look like “one-and-done” recruits. #1 Jayson Tatum, #2 Harry Giles, #4 Dennis Smith, and #14 Tyus Battle are all based on ESPN’s 2016 rankings. All Duke targets that could finish in the Top 10 which is probably “one-and-done” range.

Those guys all have a foot through the door. 3 of them are Wing Players. They will all start when they show up. Go figure.

I have read reports that Grayson Allen will play anything from the #1 to #3 Position next season.

Some say Luke Kenard is sliding at the moment, but I think he should be a wonderful player, but only if given the opportunity to shine.

Many say Chase Jeter isn’t a “one-and-done,” more like one and work. Obi needs to lose weight, as he is chunky in the wrong places.

Aside from Brandon Ingram, Duke will struggle to score at times next season. Derryck Thornton isn’t a “one-and-done” recruit, but I think he can change that. Actually he will, but there might be an issue of his age. He is currently 17 years and 11 months (I don’t know how up to date “247 web page” is), which means he turns 19 next May.

So to recap, Duke will have:

  • A potential “one-and-done” in Brandon Ingram
  • 2 Seniors in Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee
  • A Junior in Matt Jones
  • Derryck Thornton might be potential “one-and-done”
  • Chase Jeter will be a wannabe “one-and-done.”
  • Sean Obi a Sophomore, having been forced to sit out a year because of his transfer to Duke.
  • Luke Kenard is a gamer
  • Grayson Allen, a star in the making.

These are your 2015-16 Duke Blue Devils.

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Simply Duke Basketball: “Ro on Recruting” – Derryk Thornton Commits to Duke !!!

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

In this 2nd installment of his series, Rowan Shiell comments on Duke’s newest recruit, Derryk Thornton, who committed Tuesday …

The commitment of Derryk Thornton, on Tuesday, has solved Duke’s biggest concern going into next season.

Tyus Jones left a void when he declared for the 2015 NBA Draft. Now, his position has been filled with a 5 Star prospect who, will reclassify to the 2015 class.

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 The 6’2” Guard was the 11th ranked recruit in the 2016 Class and is now ranked 17th (2nd at his position) according on ESPN’s Top 100 list of recruits for the 2015 class.  He turns 18 in May and has now sacrificed being named an All American, next season, in favour of attending Duke, in the Fall.

“I have been considering reclassifying up for months, so it’s been on my mind,” Thornton said.

“Last night, Coach K and Jeff Capel came in for the visit and they told me how much confidence they have in me to be their Point Guard next year. They were very prepared about my game and their plan for me.”

“They told me they could have went after 5th-year Transfers but wanted me instead. I am excited about the opportunity and the challenge.”

Guessing that Dylan Ennis, a Guard who decided to transfer from Villanova in order to get more time playing Point Guard, is now out of the question, or was never really a serious contender.  Either way Duke has their man.

Thornton averaged 17.2 Points and 6.2 Assists in guiding Findley Prep to the SemiFinals of Dick’s Nationals.  They lost to eventual Champions, Monteverde Academy, who feature several top recruits including Ben Simmons the top ranked player in the 2015 class.

You can find an in depth scouting report on Thornton here.

Next up on the agenda is Brandon Ingram, now ranked the top Small Forward in the 2015 class, and the 3rd overall recruit according to ESPN.  He is due to announce next Monday and is now happy that Duke has a Point Guard, as that was one of his concerns.

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Simply Duke Basketball Series: “Ro on Recruiting” Installment #1

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

This is the 1st Installment of our summer series by Rowan Shiell.  In this article, he examines the big picture, which promises to change quite rapidly as Coach K settles on his team for next season, so stay tuned !!!

Duke had both their prized recruits on display at the Nike Hoop Summit, which is a more structured level of competition as opposed to the McDonald’s All American game, or the Jordan Brand Classic.

The USA lost to a World Team for the 3rd year in a row, which means that the game is changing at the roots.  It won’t be long before USA will struggle to dominate the International Competition at the top of the game.  This will be a problem for the coach that follows Coach Krzyzewski, as it will be another 5 years before this happens due to the disposition of the talent level worldwide. It isn’t hard to predict that Canada and Australia are the frontrunners to unseat America when this happens.

As for the World Game at hand, there was good news and bad news.

The Bad 

Chase Jeter: Five points, five rebounds, one steal, 1-5 FG

Jeter is another player that seemed to struggle to finish against the World Team’s length.  His physical tools are certainly apparent, but the skill level just isn’t quite there yet.  This is okay, given that he was the youngest of the big men in camp this week.  He’s not a “one-and-done,” but he will certainly have a shot at the NBA due to his athleticism and size.

The good

Luke Kennard

You can turn that around and say its great that Jeter will be around for more than one season and bad that Kenard may be gone after a year.  Jeter was anticipated as a “one and done” player but the fact that Duke was still recruiting Caleb Swanigan (committed to Michigan State) should have been a sign that they were not happy with just Jeter.  With Sean Obi coming off his Red Shirt year, Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson returning as Seniors, they all and should get more playing time.

Kennard is a high scoring Guard who is now a legend in Ohio.  As a Senior he averaged 38.1 points, a hairline shy of 10 Rebounds, almost 6 Assists and 2 Steals.  One can assume, with all the recent accolades, that he will leave if he has a good Freshman season at Duke.  He just outplayed Malik Newman for Team USA, who is considered the top combo Guard in the 2015 class.

Kennard is compared to JJ Reddick and Jon Scheyer because of his ability to shoot, this being reinforced after he won the McDonald’s All American 3 Point Contest.  He can also utilise his 6’6″ frame to finish strong at the rim.

The way Duke uses him will be dependant on Duke getting another Point Guard to replace Tyus Jones, who is leaving for the NBA Draft.  If Duke can’t get a Point Guard, then Kennard will probably be utilised as a Lead Guard. Lets hope he is more Jon Scheyer than Jimmer Fredette.

Chase Jeter on the other hand is losing ground fast. Jahlil Okafor is a tough act to follow, yet this hasn’t deterred Jeter from committing to Duke in the wake of the Freshman Of the Year.  From Loren Woods to the Wear twins, the guy, or guys, that follows the dominating big guy is always torn to shreds, as expectation levels are too high to maintain.

Loren Woods followed Tim Duncan at Wake Forest and the Wear twins followed Tyler Hansbrough at North Carolina.  They all eventually transferred and found happiness elsewhere.

Jeter, will have help, at Duke, in the form of Jefferson and Rice transfer, Sean Obi, however it needs to be reinforced that Jeter is no Okafor, who was the consensus #1 recruit coming to Duke. Jeter is currently ranked 9th by ESPN. Where one is a low post banger, albeit one of the best to ever play in college basketball in a very long time, the other is more of a finesse player who plays facing the basket.

Jeter is connected to Duke in a surprising way. Chris Jeter was one of those kids that were given a second chance at UNLV after flaming out somewhere else.  Today the elder Jeter is a police officer in Las Vegas. The surprising aspect is that his son is now committed to Duke, who had a turbulent history with UNLV back in the early ’90’s when Jeter was enrolled there.

One other recruit that is on Duke’s radar is Brandon Ingram, a North Carolina kid who had a good showing at the Hoop Summit.

Brandon Ingram: 12 points, 5-6 FG, 3 Rebounds, one Assist.

Ingram played a “small-ball” 4 (in quotations because he’s still nearly 6-foot-10, after all) for a majority of his minutes, and it’s a role he excelled in against the bigger World frontline.  Ingram showed off the ability to pull up off the dribble in the midrange for jumpers, the ability to slash in the lane for lay-ins, as well as get out in transition for a guy his size.  He still needs to put on a lot of weight, but with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and his smooth athleticism, he could end up being one of the better prospects in this class when it’s all said and done. Defensively he’s more of a mixed bag, as his stance is rather hunched over and isn’t ideal.  The key will be making the right college decision, and ending up in the right situation that will play him in the role he was deployed in today.  He is a developmental guy, but one that could really blossom soon.

Ingram is currently considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Based on the fact that he hasn’t committed to a school yet, Kentucky may be the favourite here.  The Wildcats already have a commitment from Charles Mathews, and Alex Poythress will be back.  The stumbling block here is if Jaylen Brown signs with Kentucky Ingram could be the odd man out.

If I was a top ten wing prospect I would avoid UNC because of Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks and Brice Johnson.  All these guys are interchangeable, and may be the reason why UNC struggled over the past season. Coach Roy Williams has recruited one too many 6’6″ to 6’9″ guys who can’t shoot from far, and can’t bang in the Post.  The exceptions here are Jackson, who showed promise as a shooter and Johnson who finishes well around the hoop, but could enter the upcoming NBA Draft, like Tokono. Ingram, who fits into the same category as all these guys but has a higher ceiling, and will always be looking over his shoulder at numerous guys that can replace him.

This means that it is either Duke or Kansas for Ingram. Brown is also considering Kansas.  If Ingram wants to stay in state his best option, from his list, is Duke because with the departure of Justise Winslow he will have ample playing time, and Duke will sink or swim with him.

Kansas has only Brannen Greene, at Small Forward, with the departure Kelly Oubre to the NBA Draft.  So, Kansas can provide Ingram with as much playing time as Duke, however he will be one Jay Hawk among many unlike at Duke where he will more than likely have ample opportunities to shine individually and as part as a team.

The importance of the last aspect cannot be understated. Coming into the season there were 4 Small Forwards rated above Justise Winslow.  They were all ranked in the Top 15, with Winslow bring up the rear, but now he will more than likely be the top Small Forward chosen in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Why ??? Stanley Johnson went to Arizona and divided minutes with Rondae Hollis Jefferson. Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson both went to North Carolina. Kansas faltered down the stretch.

All these players struggled at one point or anotherm but guess which player was allowed to play through his struggles and it paid dividends at the end of the season ???  Justice Winslow.  The only guy smart enough to go to a school where he was needed. When Pinson got hurt Roy Williams replaced him with Jackson.  When Stanley Johnson struggled, Sean Miller benched him in favour of Hollis Jefferson.  Oubre had a strong finish to his season but I have yet to hear a strong argument of him over Winslow.

 

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