SDBB: After 4 Significant Losses, What’s Wrong at Duke ???

images-676images-676images-676images-676

Duke has lost games they were never in contention to win. Tonight, Bermuda Bob offers some insight and maybe even a few constructive ideas …

Amile:

The best leader on this team has once again been hurt. Another wonderful season has been interrupted.  While I have always suspected that the Nike shoes have some culpability.

There does not seem to be another leader stepping up to replace his voice and performance.  Duke does not have anyone to fill his position. Chase Jeter is having another milquetoast season.  Harry Giles should have been Red Shirted and proves my point each time out. Marquis Bolden has not returned to the player I saw early on.  Javin DeLaurier has gotten a few minutes here and there, but not enough to prove his mettle. Antonio Vrankovic, Jack White and Justin Robinson languish on the Bench, not even being given a chance to contribute.

Grayson:

If you were to listen or read some of the things Grayson has been accused of, you’d think Grayson was the reincarnation of Rasputin.  In reality, he is a guy who over-hustles, over-competes, and over-exerts.  I won’t postulate on his predilection to trip opponents.  I would suggest that it has it’s roots in playground basketball and could be “fixed” with responsible psycho-analysis, but that should have been done “like yesterday” …

Unfortunately, now, anytime that Grayson gets involved in something overly physical, he will be branded the aggressor.  I’d petition the Refs to consider that they are there to call the game fairly, not in consideration of his press clippings.

Lastly, I think that the experiment of Grayson being at the Point is not working.  It does not allow his best side to shine thru. It also subverts him to Jayson Tatum’s selfishness.

Luke

Luke showed plenty of promise last year, but he was inconsistent.  This year, he returned looking more like he had spent the summer with JJ Reddick.  Many portals opined on if Luke might become a contender for the ACC MVP.  He was consistent from anywhere on the floor, and he played both sides of the Court.  Then Jayson Tatum returned to the line-up, and Luke’s performance slacked off.  Oh, he still put up nice numbers, but nice doesn’t win games.

Matt

I nicknamed Matt “Cazzie” after Cazzie Russell of the Knicks I grew up with because his shot follow-thru resembled him so much.  Matt is now the only Captain and Senior on the Floor.  He needs to be more like Amile. He needs to lead.

Matt has become more like Tyler Thornton on Defense, and has lost a bit of his touch from outside the Arc, hitting only 34%. His 41% from the Floor is not up to snuff either.  He has played almost as many minutes as Luke, and leads the team in Steals.  His offense and leadership is coveted.

The Frosh:

If Coach K was looking for another triumvirate like he enjoyed in 2014-15, then he was kidding himself.  Those guys WANTED to play together, and flourished when they were all at full strength.  These Frosh – Tatum, Giles, & Bolden – seem to be more of the “Me-My-and-Iverson” mindset.

Tatum is often out of sync and downright selfish, making me recall Austin “Da Black Hole” Rivers, who was a ball hog, hence the nickname.   Want proof ???   In the losses against FSU & Louisville, he logged in ZERO Assists, and only 2 Assists in the loss to VaTech !!!  Tatum also shares the same predisposition to histrionically complain when things don’t go his way.  He is a very talented player, but ought to be playing for a team that needs a single star, not a team who has historically played “team” basketball.

Giles has not returned to any semblance of his reputation and should have never been played in favour of a Red Shirt.   He seems to be getting minutes on his supposed reputation from when his knees allowed him to play.  I recall someone asking me how a “one-and-done” player could be given a Red Shirt. Giles playing this year is as ridiculous as that question. Giles has said that:  “It takes time, especially with a knee. It’s a long process. It getting used to the physicality, the speed of the game.”  By his own words, he makes me point.  He has no business playing this year, so he should have been Red Shirted from the start.  After all, the kid has not played at any level in over 2 years.  Why does Coach K feel it incumbent to use a player, who, by his own admission, honestly agrees with me ???

Bolden is a huge question mark for me.  I originally was so very pleased with what I saw in him.  He boxed-out, he denied the Base Line, and he played both sides of the Court.  Since the mysterious cramping he awoke with, he has been nothing of the player I saw and was so impressed with.  Since nobody in the Press Corps has the guts to ask for an explanation, I doubt if we will ever know what REALLY happened.

Frank Jackson seems to be trying hard and consistently improving, but his time has been cut due to the return of Jayson Tatum.  Frank ought to be given the Point like Derryck Thompson was last year, but then Thornton left because he realized Coach K had recruited someone behind him, and bolted like 3 others in the same situation ahead of him.

The other Frosh – Javin DeLaurier and Jack White have not yet seen any substantive minutes as they join upperclassmen Antonio Vrankovic, Justin Robinson, and Sean Obi on the Bench.

In Conclusion

I have always questioned why Coach K recruits so much potential, but never uses it.  I know he needs competent players for practice time, but when he was recruiting them, did he make the fact known to them that they weren’t going to see game time minutes ???   Damn, I’d love to know the answer to that question !!!

Unfortunately, Coach K, and now Coach Capel favour players who struggle each time out and allows others to languish on the Bench.  He subverts upperclassmen to Frosh, who, this year, do not have the maturity to win.

Coach Capel unfortunately claimed that: “They’re still not up to speed. When you miss that much time, especially Harry.  I’m not sure he’ll be up to speed for us this year and so it’s just trying to get him better each day.  Same thing for Bolden. Bolden was out for a while and so look, we need those guys. We need everyone on our team to play their butts off every day.”  I could not agree more, Coach, so why aren’t you playing the ENTIRE team … you know, those other guys who have not been injured, but you recruited to wear the Duke uniform ???

If you read my previous article, you get my biggest complaint.  The Duke Basketball that I formerly knew did not put so much credence in unproven players.  This year proves categorically that waiting, hoping, and wishing for the Frosh to mature into the same caliber as Duke has enjoyed in the past is a failed mindset.

Sure, Coach K looks great to future recruits when they see Frosh playing, but if they are not winning … causing losses … subverting upperclassmen, and spurning the development of upperclassmen into tomorrow’s leaders, then you’ve reduced a storied programme into nothing more than a crap-shoot in a casino.

I have never liked the “one-and-done” … and never will. I find it immoral, unethical, and unfaire to any kid recruited who also expected to fully matriculate.   This year’s crop of supposed super-stars got injured and have been ineffective. Jayson Tatum, in particular, seems to be playing only to prove his NBA worth, while Harry Giles can’t fill Amile’s shoes. Marquis Bolden remains a question mark. Frank Jackson will stay and develop into a fine player if given the chance, and does not have to look over his shoulder.

In the re-make of the movie classic “Oceans Eleven” the main characters spend an appreciable amount of time filling slots of members of the team to fulfill each need.  One has to wonder if Coach K and Coach Capel do the same thing, or if they simply go after high profile players to boost their team on paper, hoping for the chemistry the 2014-2015 and other previous National Champions had.

Unfortunately, the game is played, by dedicated players, on a Court of wood over half a year.

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

Thanks for the Read …

Please tell us what you think either here or on our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

 

Watch for our next installment this week on what ills Duke …

Advertisements

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.

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

Thanks for taking the time to read our thoughts.

Want to add yours ???

Please post a Comment here, or on our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

We promise to always answer you !!!

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 …

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

Thanks for spending your time to read our thoughts …

We always welcome your thoughts either here, or on our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

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.

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

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 !!!

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

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 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 $$$ !!!

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

Thanks for the Read !!!

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

@SimplyDukeBB

Simply Duke Basketball – Introducing Duke’s Frosh: #12 Derryck Thornton

SDBB - #12 Derryck Thornton

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 … #12, Derryck Thornton

Duke will have only one prototypical Point Guard on the roster this season, and that will be Derryck Thornton.  Thornton skipped his Senior year of High School, but he turned 18 last May so he should be mature enough to step into this role.

He is a quick player that can finish with either hand in the Paint, preferably on floaters, and has a very good midrange jumper.  He has great vision, but if his teammates aren’t aligned with him, it can result in multiple turnovers. 

Where does Duke need him ???

Duke has a major vacancy at Point Guard and they are hoping that Thornton is the answer. A Point Guard is very crucial, especially this season where there is a shorter Shot Clock.

Coach K didn’t exactly anoint his as a Starter at the recent press conference but Thornton is crucial none the less.

Who does he remind us of ???

Best Case Scenario:  Thornton’s biggest strength is his ball handling ability, which reminds us of Kyrie Irving.  He also is just as quick.  Irving only played 11 games for Duke, due to injury, but he was exceptional from Game One.

Worst Case Scenario:  Quinn Cook is credited for setting the tone for last year’s team, however his transition to college basketball was as fluid as a ship in bad weather.  Thornton will have to be good from Day One as the only Point Guard.

Conclusion …

Thornton will no doubt thrive best in a run-and-gun atmosphere and Duke certainly has the pieces for that. More often than not, opponents dictate to most college basketball offenses, which means there will be plenty of Half-Court Sets, especially in ACC play.

Thornton will have to learn fast as he is already behind, being one of the later arrivals on campus due to his finishing up the requirements for his early enrollment.

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

Thanks for reading !!!

Watch for our next Frosh introduction right behind this guy.

We welcome your comments, either here or on our Twitter site:

@SimplyDukeBB

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.

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

 Thanks for reading !!!

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

@SimplyDukeBB