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 – Marques Bolden

By Bermuda Bob

Marques is listed as a 6’11” 246lb. Sophomore Center, who will wear #20 again this year.

He came to Duke last year as 5 Star recruit with great expectations.  During the exhibition season last year, he showed me the ability to Box Out on both ends of the Court, “deny” the Baseline, and had a variety of scoring abilities.

Then, just before the beginning of the non-conference season he was said to have awakened with a leg injury.  He missed the first 8 games of the season, and when he returned he was nothing of the player I first saw and never returned to the promise he brought to Duke.

After last season there were rumours that he was thinking of transferring but in May, he announced he would return to Duke for his Sophomore season.

Marques brings major expectations this year, and will be met with plenty of competition for playing time especially from the Frosh.

I think Coach K summed it all up when he claimed: “We’re thrilled that Marques will continue to be part of our program.  In addition to being a talented basketball player, he’s an outstanding young man from a great family.  It’s unfortunate that his freshman season was impacted by injury, but he has an opportunity to have a great summer and a special sophomore season.”

Marques is the son of Melvin and Carolyn Bolden, from DeSoto, Texas.  His sisters are Tyondra and Delisia.

I wish you all the best, big guy, I’d like to see you return to the guy I saw early on last year !!!

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SDBB: 10 Questions for Duke Going Into Conference Play

Yellow Faced Question Marked

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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