After 7 ACC games that leaves Duke with a paltry 3-4 ACC Record, instead of asking:
“What the Hell is Going On at Out There ???”
We’d like to continue 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 last 4 Questions …
Has Coach K forsaken the idea of “team” and given in to the individualism inherent to the “one-and-done” recruit ???
“You develop a team to accomplish what one person alone cannot” comes from Coach K’s discussion of fist in his book, “Leading with The Heart.” He goes on to define the meaning of the five fingers. The fist is an iconic symbol he uses in every game.
More interesting facts about this term are found in “100 Things Duke Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Johnny Moore. A closed fist is on the side of the 2001 National Championship ring, and a sculpture in Coach K’s office.
Should we define individualism by national awards, public criticism, looks, or draft picks, etc. ??? Seven (7) players have won National Player of the Year under Coach K, the last being JJ Reddick in 2006.
In my memory, the ire of the public has been at it’s highest with the Grayson Allen’s tripping incidents recently, versus Christian Laettner’s stomping on Kentucky’s Timberlake chest in 1992. Facial hair and hairstyles were discussed in Point #3.
From the 2015 team, Freshmen Tyus Jones, Okafor and Winslow being drafted into the NBA was a Duke basketball record.
In my opinion, Coach K has not forsaken the idea of team.
I will respectfully disagree. Since Coach K first dipped his toe into the Rubicon of the “one-and-done” with Kyrie Irving, he has routinely subverted his teams to an individual player.
- Kyrie Irving should never have been allowed to return to that Duke team, who had completely re-tooled their chemistry to win the ACC for a #1 Seed. From the first game of that Big Dance, Duke was a goner because Irving was inserted, presumably to seal his #1 NBA Draft stock. My question is: “What about the rest of the team ???”
- Next came Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers, who was one of the most un-Duke-like players ever to be given a Duke jersey. He was nothing more than a ball hog, a “gunner” or a“jock” in my day. If you passed it to him, it never came back. His mouth arrived on campus before he did, and Coach K subverted that entire team to him, resulting in an embarrassing exit of the Big Dance to a #15 Seed. The kid didn’t even accompany the team back to Durham, instead going home. I’ll never forget the picture in the Philadelphia newspapers when Duke played Temple. Rivers had been, once again, knocked down and all 4 players were walking away from him back to the Bench, not one looking back !!! Mike “Silent G” Gbinije, the first of what would be successively 3 more players, left Duke as he had been subverted by Rivers.
- Then there was Jabari Parker, whose season was chronicled in the infamous Sports Illustrated article where it was revealed that his parents had carte blanche to contact the Coaching Staff any time they wished to question how their son was being played.
- Along with Parker was Rodney Hood, whom Coach K had promised a significant position on the team when he signed him after Hood had left Mississippi State. Hood was so incredibly left-hand dominant that defenders obviously left his right wide open. He rarely took advantage. Alex Murphy would be the 2nd player to leave Duke after being subverted to Hood …
Oh by the way, Parker & Hood saw Duke blown out in the 1st Round of the Big Dance by a #14 Seed !!!
- Then there was the 2014-15 National Championship team. No one was specifically subverted, but Semi Ojeleye realized that Coach K recruited behind his position, and by mid-season, he left for SMU, where he is a star !!! It was also this season where Coach K told Sean Obi “We need you …” and so he left Rice for what must seem like an eternity on the Bench.
- Semi left because he would get no more playing time once Brandon Ingram showed up and starred, but also Chase Jeter showed up and was a dud. Semi never got the chance Jeter did. Derryck Thornton looked over his shoulder and saw Coach K recruit behind him at the Point, and left at mid-season. Duke was resoundingly beaten by Oregon in the Sweet 16 of the Big Dance.
It had become a seasonal wonder of mine who will be the next player to be subverted and leave to star somewhere else. So, yes, I believe that Coach K, having been sucked into the “one-and-done” vortex, no longer worries about his whole team. He allows too many players to languish on the Bench in favour of overworking his Starters and the additional players he plays. I wonder if all of these player’s parents are given the Cell Phone numbers of the Coaching Staff and allowed the freedom to call any time if they wondering why their son gets more time pulling splinters than on the Court !!!
In every year in the past 4 years, a Duke player has left and starred at the school he landed at. “Silent G” at Syracuse, Alex Murphy at Northeastern, Semi at SMU, and then Derryck Thornton in the middle of last year all left, all because they discovered that Coach K recruited a player who would surely subvert them in the next year.
Do you think this is faire ???
Coach K has built an echelon program for which he can almost choose who comes to Duke. Over the past 8 seasons, 8 or 9 athletes have averaged 10 or more minutes playing time. After the 2015 National Championship, he stated “Eight is Enough.” What about the “other” players on the team ???
It appears Coach K has subverted these players regardless of their skill, or the number of years they have been at Duke. Playing time been given to the “one and done” Freshmen. Duke defensive strength has diminished. The team concept has been pushed aside for 1 or 2 “me” players each year. The appreciation of the “other” players is non-existent. I don’t think this is fair to those players nor the Duke fans.
You have encapsulated the “wrongmindedness” that prevails at Coach K’s Duke these days. I seriously doubt that he recruits players to be “practice players” so each guy comes to Duke expecting to contribute.
College Basketball Icon, Dick Vitale noted last year (again) during a Duke game that Duke had so many guys who never get the chance to play. He noted that if a player had been recruited and earned a uniform, then he deserved to be given the chance to contribute. I could not agree more with him !!!
Since Coach K began the “wrongminded” practice of recruiting kids who have no intention of matriculating, he has made those kid(s) his primary emphasis to the detriment of other players who are upperclassmen. Now, I agree that the 2015 Championship team was an exception, so let’s get that out of the way. In every other season, Coach K allowed players who were at Duke to play and matriculate to be subverted to kids who were openly using Duke as a single season stepping stone to the NBA.
My best example of this is this year. 3 of the 6 Frosh this year ended up injured and essentially missed the non-conference season. Considering the fact that Harry Giles has not played in a ridiculous amount of time due to his knee problems, I called for him to be RedShirted because he never had a chance to learn the Duke system. Also, there were plenty of guys already on the team who could fill his roster spot. That would give him another year to build himself and absorb the Duke system, but as one Twitter contributor asked me:
“How do you RedShirt a “one-and-done” ???”
Is one exclusive unto the other ??? I don’t think so. The guy came to Duke, promptly blew out his knee again, but he still considered a “one-and-done” ??? He had not played a competitive minute in something like 22 months. Yet, he’s given floor time to the exception of the guys who were here before him. How is that moral or ethical ???
I think it reflects the “wrongmindedness” at Duke because Harry Giles has produced very little that is positive that other players on the Bench could not have surpassed.
When Jason Tatum came off the injured list, he immediately began to be given many minutes, and while he scores, he is a “ball hog” and has caused a diminution of Grayson’s & Luke’s scoring. He has also been responsible for some unfortunate TurnOvers, the most recent being at the end of the North Carolina State game, when, instead of passing or simply getting to the Basket and maybe drawing a Foul, he employed some razzle dazzle, lost the ball, and the game was lost !!!
I have to wonder what Coach K sez to “The Admiral” – who attends every game – when the “one-and-done” kids play ahead of his son His son, who has accommodated each and every thing Coach asked of him, but still sits, and sits, and sits.
Doesn’t this year prove that Coach K has become too dependent on Frosh ???
My heart pounded as I stood and yelled “… REBOUND … REBOUND …” within an arm’s length of the TV. The final horn sounded … my stomach felt empty as I mentally replayed the last minute. Connecticut had just beaten Duke by 3 points to win the 1999 NCAA Championship. Duke finished that season with an incredible 37 wins and 2 losses. In another few weeks the team suffered another huge loss when freshmen Corey Maggette and William Avery, along with Sophomore Elton Brand decided to leave for the NBA. Coach K was quoted:
“When they all decided to leave, it hurt my feelings a little bit. I was sorry to see them go because you can’t establish as strong of a relationship in 1 or 2 years as you can in 4 …”
That may have been the ‘unofficial’ beginning of “one and done” Freshmen at Duke. Unofficial, because the NBA didn’t change its rule about high school player’s eligibility until 2006. Other Freshmen who have left after one season are Deng, Irving, Rivers, Parker, Tyus Jones, Okafor, Winslow and Ingram. If the hype is right, 3 more freshmen could leave after this year.
Steve Fortosis’s October 2014 article “Does the One-and-Done Phenomenon Produce NCAA Winners or Not” points out Coach K ‘felt he’d be insane not to welcome this one and done talent.’ It also points out that Duke lost in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament in two 2011 and 2013.
Duke has not won the ACC regular season or tournament since 2011. In 2015, Duke claimed a magnificent 5th National Championship with 4 Freshmen, 3 who left early and one who had pulled splinters most of the season. 2015-2016 looked like another possible repeat until Jefferson went out for rest of the season. Duke finished tied for 5th in the conference and a 25-11 overall record. This year Duke is 3-4 in conference and 15-5 overall.
UVA and UNC have won 4 of the last 5 regular season titles. I think Duke became too dependent on the “one and done” in 2014-15, leaving few players to develop over the next 3 years.
You’ve made some excellent points, Bill. Let me start with your final comment. If Grayson goes, as per what seemed like his master plan, and the 3 Frosh go as they originally envisioned, next year’s Senior on the team will be Sean Obi. A guy who has only seen stolen moments and has not even suited up this year. Saying nothing against Obi, but that’s ridiculous.
Behind Obi among scholarship upperclassmen, will be Luke, Antonio, and Jeter. Does that make any sense ??? Luke is the only player to see big minutes, while Jeter spends an increasing number of minutes joining Antonio on the Bench. Where’s the inherent leadership being developed ??? The natural instinct would be to see Luke as he Captain, but doesn’t that simply slap Obi in the face one more time ???
Back to your narrative, all I would point out is that Maggette was forced to leave once his violations were revealed. I honestly have wiped him my consciousness at Duke because he was there via lies. Also, Deng claimed financial hardships for he and his family, something we honestly don’t have any place to comment on.
I want to thank you sincerely for finding that Coach K comment. It surely proves that he can certainly turn a phrase. I say this in consideration of his comment regarding his 2015 losses to the NBA, calling the NBA Draft a “job offer” and also a “business opportunity” or sort. Now, I’ll admit that those guys had nothing left to prove, but, while it certainly attracted many more “one-and-done” kids for future years, it squarely slaps education and matriculation in the face. This from the guy who resoundingly disliked the “one-and-done” recruit, then all of a sudden, like a thief in the night, he recruits a “one-and-done” kid. That kid openly lied about wanting to come back, even sporting the next year’s bumper sticker, only to see Coach K capitulate and deeply damage that squad.
What is the solution for this year’s team after an abysmal start to the ACC Season ???
Before I point out some possible solutions, I want to mention what the “fist” represents:
Caring, and Pride.
This year’s team does not play with “fire” nor pride.
- Turn to Matt Jones and Grayson Allen to bring fire on the Court.
- Depend on 1 or 2 players to be Point Guard – Frank Jackson is my suggestion. Do not use Allen as the Point.
- When the 3 Freshmen are on the Court, use a Zone Defense.
- Give more playing time to the Bench players who have height and length to challenge passing lanes and improve rebounds like Robinson and Vrankovic.
- Play the Freshmen and other players who will not leave after this year to develop skills for next year.
I agree with each and every one of your points, and add some more …
- Play a rotation of each and every player, giving them more than a minute here or there. I understand giving a star player a few extra minutes at the end of the half for an extended “blow” but giving a guy less than a minute is ridiculous. In this last game, Javin DeLaurier, a player with a ton of potential, got 1 minute, which is not enough time to even work up a sweat.
- Get back to the idea that whomever excels in Practice plays … Even if it means Tatum, Giles, and Bolden might – heaven forbid – not get enough Floor time to prove they should be drafted this year to the NBA. From the body language of these kids, they do not have the singular mindset devoted to Duke winning. They often seem detached and obsessed with themselves, especially Tatum.
- Coach Capel either possesses the same Gary Williams sweat glands, or is tremendously nervous that he might be blowing his audition as Coach K’s successor. My suggestion is that he stop trying to wear a suit that he will sweat thru, in favour of something that doesn’t look so bad when sweat thru. Wearing a suit, then tearing it apart (ala John Chaney) is not something you learned from Coach K !!!
- Once again this year, the average fan has no way of interacting with the Coaching Staff via Pressers. The Beat Reporters, as I mentioned last year, cow-tow to the idea that they don’t ask awkward questions, presumably that it will be the last time they are called on. I’d ask questions like these:
- Why don’t you play your upperclassmen Bench Players, namely, Antonio and Justin ???
- Why don’t you play your Frosh Bench Players, namely, Jack and Javin ???
- Why hasn’t Sean Obi suited up, and do you think he ever will ???
- What’s going on with Jeter ???
- Do you think Duke got snookered by his high recruiting stock ranking, compared to his actual abilities ???
Let’s see Duke take a page out of what our new President’s Press Secretary has done. Let’s include “outside people” via Skype or some other portal. Give the fans a chance to ask what they REALLY want to know !!! I’d be first in line !!!
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Thanks for the read …
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