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

By Bill Wheeler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Duke !!!

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SDBB – Duke 2017-18 Player Profiles – Grayson Allen

By Bermuda Bob

Grayson is a 6’5″ 205 lb. Senior Guard, who will again wear #3 this year.  Grayson returns as the sole Senior and sole Captain.

Grayson’s story exemplifies what it means to “be ready” and ready he was as a Frosh in 2015 when he was brought in off the Bench in the National Championship game against Wisconsin, dazzling everyone.  It caused Coach K to create a new award for the annual sports awards dinner,, called “The One Shining Moment” award.

Grayson has career averages of 13.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG.  His shooting average was  43.5% from the Floor, .38.6% from outside the Arch, and 83% from the Charity Stripe.

Grayson is a 3 time honoree to the All-ACC Academic Team.  He graduated Cum Laude from Providence School and earned an Advanced Placement Diploma.

Grayson has had a stellar stay at Duke, with the exception of his unfathomable spree of tripping opponents.  As he lost his Co-Captaincy last year, along with a suspension, there were many wondering if he would be re-named as Captain.  Gladly, he has earned back that honour in the eyes of Coach K and his assistants.

There were many expectations that Grayson might leave Duke last year for the NBA, but he has always noted that he promised himself and his family that he would graduate.  He also returned to reconstitute his reputation, and I’m sure every Duke fan hopes he can accomplish that before he graduates.

As may be expected, he is not only the Captain, but he must be the leader of this very young team where talent is superabundant.

Grayson is the son of William and Sherry Allen.

He is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and volunteered with Best Buddies, an international organization of volunteers that create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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SDBB – After Sleeping On It – The Wake Forest Game

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SDBB: Point/CounterPoint – 7 Questions After 7 ACC Games – Part #2

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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 …

Point #4:

Has Coach K forsaken the idea of  “team” and given in to the individualism inherent to the “one-and-done” recruit ???

Bill:

“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.

Bermuda Bob:        

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.

  1. 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 ???”
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 !!!

  1. 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.
  1. 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 !!!

Point #5:

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 ???

Bill: 

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.

Bermuda Bob:        

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.

Point #6:

Doesn’t this year prove that Coach K has become too dependent on Frosh ??? 

Bill:

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.

http://dukereport.com/duke-basketball/one-done-phenomenon-produce-ncaa-winners-sfortosis/

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.

Bermuda Bob:        

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.

Point #7:

What is the solution for this year’s team after an abysmal start to the ACC Season ???

Bill: 

Before I point out some possible solutions, I want to mention what the “fist” represents:

Communication, Trust,

Collective Responsibility,

Caring, and Pride.

This year’s team does not play with “fire” nor pride.

Solutions:

  • 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. 

Bermuda Bob:        

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:
  1. Why don’t you play your upperclassmen Bench Players, namely, Antonio and Justin ???
  2. Why don’t you play your Frosh Bench Players, namely, Jack and Javin ???
  3. Why hasn’t Sean Obi suited up, and do you think he ever will ???
  4. What’s going on with Jeter ???
  5. 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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SDBB: Point/CounterPoint – 7 Questions After 7 ACC Games – Part #1

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

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

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

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

Tonight, we tackle the first 3 …

Point #1:        

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

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

Bill:       

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

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

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

“Duke has been exclusive to Nike since 1992.”

In 2008, Duke and Nike agreed to:

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

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:        

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Point #2:

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

Bill:                 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:        

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

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

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

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

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

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

Point #3:        

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

Bill:

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

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

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

Bermuda Bob:        

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

SDBB: The Trouble With Duke at VaTech …

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Anyone who is an old movie fan of Alfred Hitchcock will fondlyimages-673  remember the “black comedy” classic The Trouble with Harry.   Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech made me feel the same way.

A “black comedy” has nothing to do with colour or race. It is essentially a comedic satire that causes laughter from cynicism or skepticism.   Nothing could describe where Duke is after this game more succinctly !!!

In the movie, a very stayed New England town is faced with what to do with the corpse of Harry, a local resident, whom a handful of the residents think they might have accidentally killed.   In the end, it turns out that he died of natural causes, but the machinations before that discovery remind me of Duke’s Saturday effort.

Duke was never in this game.   That’s not to take away anything from the performance of the Hokies.   They shot 55% to Duke’s 42% from the Floor and 62% to Duke’s 31% from outside the Arc. That is lights out in any type of contest !!!

Duke outrebounded Tech 41 to 33, but that’s elementary, considering that the Hokies gave plenty away in height.

So, why did this happen ???

  1. Amile and Matt did not play even close to what we had become accustomed to seeing.   Frank Jackson simply tried too hard.
  1. Luke shot an excellent game, scoring 34 Points, but his closest companion scorer was Jayson Tatum whose 18 Points came from a poor shooting percentage.   His 6 of 14 from the Floor often gave Tech scoring opportunities in Transition.
  1. The Bench was ineffective, unproductive, and impotent in the paltry 25 minutes the 4 guys got.    Harry Giles got half of those minutes and while he prevailed over the smaller Tech players with 8 Rebounds, he also committed 3 Fouls.

In his Post-Game Presser, Coach K noted that Harry was ” … learning in real time …” because ” … this is the first time in 15 months …” that he is playing. He also noted that “… he gets winded” and that his teammates are unaccustomed to playing with him.

I again call for Harry Giles to be Red-Shirted !!! He is not yet close to living up to his press-clippings, and regardless of the excuses Coach K is making for him, Duke does not have the minutes to waste on a guy who cannot perform up to expectations because of a recurring injury.   There are other guys on the Bench who can and will contribute if given meaningful playing time !!!

  1. Duke is a very different team without Grayson. He is part of the core of this team along with Amile, Matt, and Luke.   I am not calling for him to be reinstated until Coach K is convinced that his discipline has been effectual.   I’m asking for the same type of opportunity given to the Bench guys, just like Grayson got against Wisconsin.   Remember how Coach K had to create an award for the year-end dinner to recognize his performance ???

Trust me, there is more than one guy on the Bench …

Who can be that guy ???

What’s ahead ???

Georgia Tech, who defeated UNC as convincingly as the Hokies did to Duke, and in the Dean Dome !!! This year’s ACC is easily the most competitive conference across-the-board, so there will be few push-overs this year.

What needs to be done ???

Coach K has got to change his ways and play the WHOLE team, regardless of what he has done in the past.   The circumstances he is saddled with this year are very different than anything he has been faced with in the past.

This year’s Frosh are nothing like his “threesome” from 2014-15. Tatum is coming into his own, but something has happened to Bolden. Giles would better serve Duke, not himself, by returning next year to prove he is the player he was expected to be.

Grayson’s suspension has obviously been a blow to the chemistry of the upperclassmen Starters.   Coach K needs to find that additional guy who can step-up.   After all, each kid who earned a uniform was recruited for more than Practice !!!

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Uniform Watch …

Lastly, with this first conference game of the year, I’d like to institute a “Uniform Watch” to our comments.   As many of you readers will recall, I have been a vocal objector to the Duke Blue Devils wearing BLACK uniforms.   There is NEVER a time nor place when BLACK uniforms are appropriate.    In this game, for no good reason, Duke wore BLACK uniforms, which I object to as Duke has sold out to Nike, who came up with these “alternative” uniforms.   I am very sorry to say that Duke has sold out to Nike by allowing them to formulate a uniform that has nothing to do with the Duke BLUE Devils.   I believe this is an disgrace that Duke has allowed this to occur.   I hope this is the last time I need to point this out, but I seriously doubt it.

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SDBB: 10 Questions for Duke Going Into Conference Play

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Today, Bermuda Bob shares his thoughts and impressions on the non-conference as we look to the ACC Conference season at Noon on Saturday …

  1.  Can a team have too much talent ???

YES !!!   Duke has too many overlapping situations … Frosh overlapping Upperclassmen is my biggest concern.   Just think how many players this year Frosh have been subverted !!!   It is a by-product of the “1-&-Done” recruit culture, and I find it unsettling …

 

  1. Has the “1-&-Done” attitude backfired on Coach K ???

Maybe … When Giles, Tatum, & Bolden were sidelined (still questionably) I saw 3 kids who were not always engaged in the game … not you normal Duke player !!!   This is what led people to wonder why they sat for so long. Could injuries have been just an excuse for the possibility that they were not cutting it in the classroom ??? Remember, in the real world, it’s not what it is, it’s what you call it !!!

Then there were the rumours that they all believed they’d be drafted with little or no play … It was reminiscent of the whole Kyrie Irving debacle where the team that had reformulated their chemistry when he went down, after only a handful of games, to become winners.   Then he forced himself into the Big Dance games and the team suffered, just so he’d improve his Draft Stock. 

 

  1. Should Harry Giles be Red-Shirted ???

Yes, Yes, 1000 Times, Yes !!!  He is not in game shape as Duke enters the ACC Conference Season.   He is not needed !!!   His presence would subvert a player who has been playing and developing with the team during the season thus far.  That is simply wrong !!!   Why force a kid into the line-up just because he came to Duke has a highly ranked player ???   Notice the past tense of my query …

 

  1. What in the world is wrong with Grayson Allen ???

I haven’t a clue … I hope the powers-that-be get him some psychological help as I wonder if he “learned” that antic during his younger playground days.   Let’s face it, Grayson is an uber over-achiever for his size, so such a playground antic might have been something from yesteryear that is rearing it’s ugly head.

Let’s think of it this way … What if Duke were to make it to the Final Four and he were thrown out of a game and the next game for tripping an opponent ???

 

  1. With so much talent, will Coach K be forced to play deeper than his usual 6-7-8 guys ???

Dear Lord, since we know that Coach K is a man of deep and abiding faith, and that includes prayer, couldn’t you find a way to impress on him that he has too much talent not to play them all ???   It’s worked for many, many other winning coaches, I count at least 9, or more, who could contribute !!!

 

  1. Who will be pivotal players this year ???

Easily, Amile has proven to have returned to where he left off before his injury, and there’s no reason to think he will not continue …

Luke has come back to Duke a more mature player.  He can shoot and score much more consistently from all over the Court.  He Rebounds and plays much better Defense.  I noticed that at least one national CBB reporter has picked him as having the potential to be ACC Player of the Year, and I agree !!!

I like what I have seen of Frank Jackson.  He is a very insightful player and can lead this team aptly … I also like what I’ve seen of young Mr. Tatum in the short time since his return.  He reminds me of a Magic Johnson type.

Often disregarded in the overall fray is Matt Jones, whom I like to call “Cazzie” because he reminds me of Cazzie Russell of the glory days of the 70’s Knicks.   Matt is a 4 year Senior who is a defensive stalwart and well-seasoned clutch shooter.   He also shares over 400 “Ironman” minutes with Luke and Amile.

 

  1. Who has not lived up to their Press clippings???

I’ve been wondering why Marques Bolden has not returned to the form I was so impressed with early on … I loved that he played so toughly under the basket, boxing out, angling for rebounding position, protecting the Baseline, and playing smart defense.   He was surely on his way to doing things that past Duke “bigs” did not or could not. I only hope he can return to that style of play … Duke needs it !!!

That’s because Chase Jeter continues to disappoint.  In 13 game appearances, 190 minutes thus far, he has blocked 13 Shots, grabbed 26 Rebounds and scored 40 Points, but he has been responsible for 14 Turnovers and 25 Personal Fouls.   I think I’d rather see others get more floor time since he is essentially a net zero !!!

 

  1. Who are the unsung heroes of his year’s team ???

The pre-conference season doesn’t tell us much, especially since there have only been a few really competitive games, and that includes the loss to Kansas in an event that ought to be contested this week.   I think Duke is so deep that a true unsung like Grayson Allen against Wisconsin for the last National Championship has yet to be seen, but I’m positive there will be one if he gets to play some …

 

  1. Is getting a Duke education enough for the guys who were recruited, but never given a chance to play ???

I’m going to quote CBB Hall of Famer Dick Vitale when he observed that if a guy is good enough to be recruited and given a uniform, then he’s worthy of being given the chance to play.   Unfortunately, Duke has more and more guys like this.   Antonio is back not playing again this year. Newbies Jack White, Javin DeLaurier will probably join Antonio as well as Justin Robinson …

Last season I asked why Sean Obi wasn’t playing and we found out that in the off-season, he had knee surgery by people outside of the Duke Orthopaedics Department.   As someone who knows how a life can be altered by such procedures, I must wonder if he is applying himself in class.

To answer the question, I must guess that a free Duke education might be worth not playing as much as one might wish … I just hope they have good Majors and get good Grades !!!

 

  1. What must “The Admiral” be thinking as he attends yet more games while his son pulls splinters ???

I have tonnes and tonnes of admiration for “The Admiral” but I must wonder what it must be like to see his son make the sacrifice after sacrifice and not be given any opportunity to prove himself.   It has to be daunting for Justin, especially living in the shadow of his Dad, who was one of the all time greats.

 

My Take … 

Duke could and should be the pre-conference season favourite to win the ACC, but they might be the most discombobulated bunch in the conference.  Long time Duke fans expect to see a surely formulated set of starters and those 6-7-8 players.

When one considers the “problem” with Grayson, we have to wonder who will step up only to be bounced back to the Bench once he returns, and his return is, as our British friends say, a “dead cert” !!! 

In my opinion, I do not like that Duke is still unsettled.  Frenetic is not the way Coach K plays, nor does he normally use his whole team. Somewhere we all expect some semblance of order … and that is still a question mark.

 

Questions for the future …

Right now, Amile, Luke, Matt, and Grayson are the 4 cornerstones of the team, but there is too much potential in the balance of the team. So who “sits” to allow that potential to play ??? 

I do not think this is a situation Coach K has ever encountered at Duke, but he certainly has with the Olympic Teams he has coached.   So, I’m happy to lean heavily on his wisdom, experience, and creativity.  I’m more concerned with seeing this team compete for Coach K’s next National Championship than I am seeing who gets into the NBA.

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SDBB: Duke vs Kansas – The Buzzer Beater Wasn’t The Cause of The Loss

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On Tuesday night Duke took on Kansas in the State Farm Championship Classic and lost via a Buzzer Beater. Tonight, Bill Wheeler joins me, Bermuda Bob, to dissect why the Buzzer Beater was not what caused the loss.

How Good is Duke ???

Both Bill and I agree that rankings are meaningless at this point in the year, and that no one can really effectively judge just how good Duke can be with 3 Frosh and Sean Obi on the Bench recuperating !!!

What About Grayson Allen ???

Bill points out that Grayson seems out of sync and is pressing too hard. I think the Kansas game looked like “Déjà vu all over again” as it reminds me of last year.

Who’s the Point Guard ???

Bill thinks that Duke must establish their Point Guard from Luke, Matt, or Frank Jackson. Bill points out that it could take Giles until conference season to be in optimum shape.

I think it MUST be Frank. Luke works hard to get his shot from anywhere, but he also dishes Assists and Rebounds. He has 5 of each in this game while scoring 22 Points. He continues to become a better player on both sides of the Court. Matt does not handle the ball well and his passing skills are still questionable. Frank is a good blend of scoring and ball movement. If he were given the spot as his, his Assists would surely increase.

TurnOvers & Rebounds …

Duke had 16 to 14 for Kansas. Amile commits 7 of them in a so-so performance while Fouling Out, while those 5 Rebounds by Luke led Duke. Kansas out-rebounded Duke 38-29. Bill points out that Kansas was the smaller team.

Bench Play …

Once again, Coach K played only 6 guys, and Javin DeLaurier played just one minute. He seems to continue to refuse to play anyone else. Lord only knows what he had/has in mind if Duke were at full strength …

Both Bill and I agree that this seems to be foolhardy, considering the talent he has on the Bench who are not being given the opportunity to contribute. Now, both of us readily admit that neither of us have the career stats that he has, but it is surely hard to reconcile in our minds.

Looking Forward …

On Saturday, Duke takes on Penn State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Foxwoods in Connecticut. It’s yet another irony along my walk with Duke as a fervent fan. I now live in Penn State country. The people here are gracious enough to not give me a hard time about my shades of Duke Blue.

On Sunday Duke takes on either Cincinnati or Rhode Island based on the results of the first games.

This is a realistic event compared to the State Farm Classic. There has been no word on the status of any of the injured Frosh … Considering that Coach K is so focused on starting his 5 upperclassmen plus Frank Jackson, I don’t think there is much new to see unless Coach is willing to get his Bench on the Floor for some minutes. After all, in that National Championship game, Grayson Allen was an untold player !!! Neither of these games will be pivotal in March, so playing the Bench makes a whole lot of sense !!!

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SDBB: NOW the Real Season Begins for a Duke Team at Less Than True Strength …

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The leaves have revealed their lovely colours, and are now brown on the ground, waiting to be collected.  Shorts have been relegated to the gym. Heavier clothes are the standard when out enjoying the crisp cooler air outside.  For us, it is a challenge to see how long we can go before activating the Heat in our home.  Last, and certainly not least, after the seemingly endless campaign season, our Nation has chosen a very new and different President to cure the ills of our Country.

If you’re like me, NOW is when the college basketball season really begins.

Duke has had their standard 2 exhibitions, followed by 2 games against teams they were expected to prevail against.  Tonight, at 9:30PM (E) the season REALLY begins as Duke meets Kansas … well, at least that’s what the so-called pundits tell us !!!

This early-on game is not a favourite of mine.  It presumes that teams are at their strongest, when the players have barely broken in their uniforms, nor have the fans learned all the new additions to the squad.  Such a contest seems more like something of an Elite 8 match-up, or a Final Four game.

I think it ought to be the last game of the non-conference schedule when the players have had a bit of time to mature … maybe on New Year’s Eve.   There is no reason to hold an elite event ahead of the Big 10-ACC Challenge, which is much more representative of the prowess of all the teams, not just 4 hand-picked programmes !!!

Obviously, no one is going to listen to me, so let’s examine where Duke is going into this game.

Duke is battered. 4 players are in street clothes.

  • One player is a concern down the road as his is a recurring injury.
  • The other 2 guys, may again be the result those damned Nike sneakers.
  • Sean Obi is again working more on his sartorial speldour after a report of his having work on both knees done this past summer.
  • Coach K has admitted that they may need to look at the relative vociferousness of their practices.

In the 2 games this weekend, without some 3 presumptive Frosh contributors, Duke looked to what I will call the “4 Horseman of Durham” of Amile, Grayson. Luke and Matt … Being adding to these guys has been Frank Jackson, who has been named ACC Frosh of the Week, after a couple excellent performances !!!

Now we all know that Coach K likes a 7-8 player rotation, so let’s add Chase Jeter, Javin DeLaurier, and Antonio Vraknovic.

  •  Jeter has been a de facto Starter with Borden, the guy who supplanted him on the depth chart, going down … He has gotten some serious opportunities to show off what he worked on over the summer.  In the first 3 games, he did very well, but in the last game he unfortunately returned to his performance of last year, being able to only play 22 minutes because of Foul Trouble.
  • DeLaurier is an impressive player, who, by his own words expects to learn plenty by being surrounded by so many impressionable players … He has a treasure trove of talent already, so the sky’s the limit for him !!!
  •  Antonio got to play 19 minutes when Chase needed it against Marist and logged 10 Rebounds, but was only given 5 minutes in the Grand Canon game even with Jeter struggling …

For the immediate future, we must be guided to Coach K’s words recently about his trio of injured Frosh: “We’re just going to shut those guys down for a while.” 

That means that nothing that happens in the Kansas game will do anything more than to solidify the core of this Duke team.  Personally, I’m not concerned, as the schedule for the 2 weeks before meeting Michigan State in the Big 10-ACC Challenge, is not very consequential.  Nothing that happens until State will matter come March Madness !!!

So, right now, we really don’t have a clear impression of who Duke is, other than the idea that they are fortunately deep, so they will take longer to develop into who they really are.  Let’s hope this doesn’t last into the conference season.

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