SDBB: Congratulations to The Duke Blue Devils on Winning the 2017 ACC Tournament !!!

By Bermuda Bob

Congratulations are in order for our Duke Blue Devils, who, despite wearing those inappropriate black uniforms, won the 2017 ACC Tournament in Record Setting form.  No other team in ACC history has won four (4) games in a row to win the event.

Duke needed to go thru four (4) very tough opponents …

  • First was Clemson, who they dispatched 79-72 …
  • Next came Louisville, who they prevailed against 81-77 …
  • Next was the “Rubber Game” of the Best Rivalry in Sport, UNC.  They won 93-83 …
  • Last was Notre Dame, who they outlasted 75-69 …

The major aspect that was demonstrated soundly, was the fact that a healthy Duke was “peaking” at the right time after a season that saw them often disappoint causing many fans to wonder about their voracity going into the post-season.  It was indeed a wonderful metamorphosis to behold !!!

Congratulations, and Good Luck in the Big Dance !!!

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@SinplyDukeBB

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SDBB – “After Sleeping On It …” If You Had The Chance, What Questions Would You Want To Ask Coach K At This Point In This Disappointing Season ???

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob wonder out loud about something many other Duke fans fantasize about … being able to ask Coach K some burning questions …

Query #1

Chase Jeter has proven to be a dud, so why have you kept trying with him when you were so quick to bench guys like Alex Murphy, Mike “Silent G” Gbinije, and Semi Ojeleye ???

Rowan:

This is a very good question because as Dick Vitale observed during the Duke/Syracuse game, ” … if you give a kid a scholarship he should be able to give you at least ten minutes on the court.”

Why does Coach K give certain players numerous chances while alienating others ???  He gave Jeter so many chances to prove himself yet when Obi gets on the Court he gets yanked after one mistake.  I would love to be a fly on the wall during practice to see what Jeter does to get the benefit of the doubt, or is it because of his very high ranking and All American status ???

Bermuda Bob:

I could not agree more and like your “fly on the wall” idea. As you know, I have long discounted the “… it’s how he performs in practice …” representation.  It’s game time performance that counts the most because the pressure is diametrically opposed.  If you doubt me, why have some coaches piped in crowd noise to ready their players for big games in venues that his players would find off-putting in some way ???

Query #2

Sean Obi has proven performances at his former school, Rice.  Why did you recruit him, and watch him waste a year of eligibility, if you are not willing to play him, especially after seeing Amile go down and with Jeter failing ???

Rowan:

Sean Obi played his Freshman season at Rice where he averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds in 27 minutes.  Rice finished dead last in Conference USA and were 7-23 on the season.  An impressive stat line for a Freshman but as a team they were terrible. However, Duke did offer him a full ride after Obi decided to transfer from Rice.

One would have thought a year defending Jahlil Okafor in practice and watching Duke win their 5th National Championship under Coach K, would have Obi ready.  Despite his shortcomings he has a skill that cannot be disregarded. Rebounding !!!  Something Duke has been noticeably deficient of in their recent losses.

Would Obi have allowed Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson to grab a dozen Offensive Rebounds ??? T here are no obvious answers to these questions because Obi has yet to play relevant minutes.  One or two minutes scattered throughout the game is a small sample size.

Bermuda Bob:

You make an excellent point about a year playing “designated combatant” to “Oaks” …  I honestly thought that he would get the nod at Center this year, but when the rumours began to be spread, I knew something was awry.  Once again people were quoting his performance in Practice, that he had come in out of shape, that he wasn’t practicing hard, and things like that.

Now, I’m not discounting the heightened skill set of “Plums,” but let’s go to Dick Vitale again when he noted that “Plums” had a limited skill set, but made up for it with intensity.  Yes, he does, no honest fan would deny that … but Obi HAS those skills.  Amile compensated for them from the first Tip Off of the season.   So, why not use Obi when Amile went down … and Jeter proved to be a dud ???

Any guy who can pull down 9+ Rebounds in ANY D-1 programme, can do at least half of that in the ACC.  Duke lost a 9.3 RPG player in Amile, so why not give Obi the chance to replicate that ???  I honestly don’t get it !!!

Query #3

Is there a reason why you did not play Antonio or Obi during those blow-out games early on ???  

Rowan:

Coach K is a winner because he loves to win.  That may sound like an incredibly obvious statement but bare with me.  Knowing this team is young and inexperienced, would it not have been to Duke’s benefit to throw Jeter, Antonio and Obi into games against LBSU (105-81), Elon (105-66), or any of the teams they played in December ???

I would understand that if in practice these guys get lost on Defence, or didn’t know the offensive set plays, but in Duke games they play mostly “Man-to-Man.”  As for Offense, all they need to do is keep the other team from scoring while the main scorers for Duke get a “blow.”  There is a reason the 3 games Duke has lost recently have been close games, and you can’t discount the amount of minutes the Starters are playing.

Playing these guys in the lead up to Conference Play would have given them at least some experience, and allowed Ingram to play as hard as he can … instead of playing to avoid Fouls, as he does now.

Bermuda Bob:

We have both agreed that in the waning minutes of games, Duke’s shooting prowess falls off markedly and the answer is simple … tired legs.  I maintain that even the most fit athlete is unable to perform at the same level for an entire game. Totally re-hydration is impossible.

Plus, let’s face it … these guys are still kids !!!  That’s not a knock, it just the truth.  The Frosh were in High School last year playing with and against 9 other players with nothing close to their skill set.  The ACC is as much the “Big Time” as any other conference, so their energy level needs to be considered.

If you look at the minutes played by the top 7 guys (including Amile), they average from 34.5 MPG by Grayson to 28.3 MGP for “Plums” !!!  The next players average from 8.1 for Jeter to 2.2 for OBI …  How can the Starters maintain their energy levels if they never get enough time to recover because all the Bench guys get to do is work on their splinter-picking skills ???

Query #4

 Have you forgotten how you have broken Syracuse’s Zone Defense in the past by placing a Blue Devil at the free throw line ???

Rowan:

Ingram and Allen are far too talented to be shooting 8 Trifectas each, in a game. That tells me that they were just settling.  Ingram didn’t even shoot a Free Throw in 40 minutes of action.  We can dispute the end of the game all we want but, the reason Duke lost is not because of the non-calls on Matt Jones at the end of the game.  It was because (1) Tyler Roberson got a dozen second-chances in the form of Offensive Rebounds, and (2) Duke shot 37 3-Pointers, and made only 10.

Isn’t Ingram the perfect player to break that zone ??? I think an opportunity was missed here.

Bermuda Bob:

Somewhere in another galaxy, there’s a book explaining College Basketball on Earth, and in the reference section where “Zone Defense” is listed, it sez: “See Syracuse Basketball.”

In my opinion, the easiest was to break down a Zone Defense is by ball movement that includes a High Post on the Foul Line by a player who can both facilitate the “Drive & Dish” and be a risk to turn and drop a 15 footer. “Plums” is not that player.   Amile played the position well, but was rarely considered a scoring threat from there, even though he often pivoted for a Lay-Up when he felt unguarded.  Brandon Ingram surely is that player. Why was he lining up outside the Arc with Matt, Grayson, Luke, and Derryk ???  I think that in their weariness, they simply didn’t wish to see themselves beaten and battered as “The Chief” was last season.  Now, that might sound trite, but even with the new Rules this year, favouring the Offensive Player, much contact is allowed.

Another aspect is that everyone knows that Coach K loves a 3 Point shooter, so most of his players love to shoot, so when Syracuse gave them long shots – even some from Jimmer Fredette range – they took them !!!

Lastly, have you noticed that no one on this year’s squad employs the “Float Away” shot that Seth Curry employed so successfully ???

Query #5

Why do you insist on playing Matt Jones at Point Guard ???

Rowan:

Derryck Thornton is testing boundaries and sometimes he can be overzealous, which makes him turnover prone yet, he is a better Point Guard than Matt Jones.  Jones can’t pass and, worst of all, he can’t dribble and pass. His reaction time is too slow, and he has zero “Court Vision.”  When he drives to the paint it is a miracle.  If he gets a shot to the rim, because he is so predictable and slow, his passes always end up in the wrong hands, or he gets stripped cleanly.

In games where Duke needs to protect a lead, he is a calming presence on the perimeter, and playing Point Guard works when the Blue Devils need to kill time.

Jones should be allowed to play to his strength, being a “Spot Up” shooter and a defensive player … anything else is asking too much of him.  

Bermuda Bob:

Let’s first address the silliest rumour I’ve heard … that Coach K was surprised that Tyus Jones went to the NBA early.  To people believing this, I’ve got a bridge for you out in the desert.  “Oaks” and Tyus were linked for more years than they were not, so you had to presume both would go pro at the same time.  If you believe that, you must believe that Coach K didn’t have a vision for this year.  I simply believe he thought he had plenty at the Guard position and could interchange them at the Point.

As for Matt versus Derryck, I think he is making a mistake.  Matt is a solid player with verve and experience, and while he’s a good quarterback, he lacks some of the aspects great Point Guards are made of.   Think of Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams, or whomever else is your favourite and you’ll immediately see my point.

I think that Thronton’s inexperience is far down the list of Coach K’s problems. I simply believe that Coach K MUST put aside his traditional comfort levels and play his whole squad … if not, he might be amongst those schools wishing upon a star to get into the Big Dance in March !!! 

Query #6

Can Coach K turn this season around ???

Rowan:

 Duke Basketball Report has the utmost confidence in Coach K.  They reminded us of Duke’s early conference struggles, and go back as far as 2000, when Carlos Boozer went out with an injury, much like Amile Jefferson, to show how Coach K is a resilient man who always comes through with a solution.  Funny enough, those solutions were normally on the bench, not to mention those were two of the most talented teams Duke has ever had.

There is no easy fix for this team and I am sure Coach K will keep trying.  It’s just baffling that a man who once started a “Walk On” against his biggest rival, UNC, can’t get 30 minutes out of 3 players on scholarship against Syracuse or Notre Dame.

Bermuda Bob:

Maybe I just answered that question in the above, but let me itemize the things I’d change:

  • “Plums” has had a very good season, but someone needs to instruct him to STOP those goofy Picks out close to the Arc.  If you notice, in the games when he has excelled, he stayed in the Paint, where he belongs.  He lacks the footwork and foot-speed to recover to where he belongs, causing silly Fouls, or getting beaten along the BaseLine.
  • Utilize Obi in the same way Lance Thomas was. Many people conveniently forget that Lance was a prolific scorer in High School. His old High School Coach went public disagreeing with Coach K that National Championship year. Yeah right, buddy !!!

Note:   I’ve “borrowed” this point from a conversation Ro and I had during the ‘Cuse game, and I thought so much of it, I had to include it here.

  • Obi is the perfect player to do this.  He is a big presence who never fails to be positioned properly for a Rebound on either side of the Court. He was a .591 scorer in that position at Rice.
  • Post-Up Ingram as I mentioned earlier.  While some might think this would slow down his scoring, and it might, isn’t turning this team around and getting them back to winning the goal ???
  • Also as previously mentioned, the ENTIRE team has to be contributing and that means playing the bench.  Why has Walk-On, Nick Pagliuca played in more games (10) than Antonio (5) or Obi (9) ???   Why has Jeter stunk up the Court for 129 minutes and 14 TurnOvers, while Antonio and Obi have played a paltry 33 minutes, combined ???

Query #7        

Since the Duke Blue Devils were named for the “les Diables Bleus” a French Military Unit known for their flowing BLUE uniforms, why do you and Duke University allow Nike to put Duke Blue Devils in black uniforms ??? 

Rowan:

I think this team has bigger problems than their outfit …

Bermuda Bob:

Last year, Hall of Fame Golfer, Phil Michelson commented on why he preferred to wear black. His comment, while scientifically and grammatically incorrect, does reflect some common thinking. “It also helps me get more aggressive. Studies have shown, like NFL teams, when they wear black, they have more penalties. That’s what I need to do tomorrow is play more aggressive.” 

Everyone understands that Nike pays out tonnes of $$$ to programmes who, in turn, allow them to dictate alternative uniforms. This is so Nike can make more money on silly fans who will wear a colour that does not correspond with the school’s official colours.

My position is well documented. No player ought to be wearing black unless it is (A) the school’s official colour, (B) corresponds to the school’s namesake, or (C) corresponds to the team’s Mascot.

Black doesn’t have a place at Duke for all these reasons.  Phil Michelson is wrong, Nike is wrong, and both Coach K and the Administration are wrong to allow this to continue.  Players ought to be playing in school colours, and not be made into shill models, forced to wear a colour some marketer in Beverton, Oregon thinks will make Nike $$$ !!!

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Thanks for the Read !!!

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

@SimplyDukeBB

“After Sleeping on It …” – Duke’s Tale of 2 Very Different Games in the ACC Tournament

SDBB - Duke ZZZ'sMuch to the chagrin of Duke fans everywhere, Duke exited the ACC Tournament much earlier than anyone was happy about.

Here’s how it happened and why …

THURSDAY night, Duke met North Carolina State, a team who had embarrassed them, 87-75, at home, early on in the conference season. This time, it was Duke who would be causing the embarrassment with a 77-53 trouncing of the WolfPack.

The Box Score shows 4 Starters and 2 Bench Players scoring in double-digits, and some seriously great rebounding, led by Justise and Amile. The most interesting aspect is that “Oaks” only played 19 minutes, while “Plums” logged in 21 minutes, scoring 12 Points, and blocking 3 Shots, having his best game at Duke.

Another interesting aspect was that Duke shot only 13 times from outside the Arc, compared to 53 from inside … very much inside when you consider “Plums” logged 6 out of 6 Dunks !!!

There’s why this run-away game was so unique compared to what we would see the next night. Duke moved the ball incredibly well, always finding the free man, even if the ball was passed 4-5-6-7 times. When Duke shares the ball, they play exceptionally well. This, opposed to dumping the ball into “Oaks” and standing around, waiting for him to either score or dish out. Under those circumstances, they don’t move the ball, and are often flatfooted and detached.

On this evening we would also see the future of Duke. Grayson Allen, who had an exemplary game, banging out 12 Points with 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, and 2 Blocks. His energy and verve on both sides of the Court was great to see !!!

 

THEN there was Friday night, a night that would be the complete opposite of the previous night.

Duke came out sluggish, while Notre Dame came out with a firm, smart, and simple Game Plan. They would not double-team “Oaks” and pretty much allow him to score. Oh, they’d put up some resistance, and even foul-out their Center, but it was as if the were playing “sucker.” “Oaks” would drop in 28 Points on 8 Rebounds and a Block. Plus, his terrible performance from the Charity Stripe was exploited, as yet another team would “Poke the Oak”

The brilliance of the Game Plan was that everyone else was shut down with an excellent perimeter defense. A defense that kept Duke to 18% shooting from outside the Arc. Quinn Cook took just one shot for a Trifecta in the 1st Half, and would try only 7 more in the 2nd Half, scoring only once in total. He literally ran out of time to find his usual rhythm.

Mike Brey, a former Assistant Coach to Coach K from way back, would out-coach his mentor. His players executed the Game Plan to perfection, while Coach K could not get his players to execute anything as they did the previous night. It was a pathetic effort to say the least.

Early on, Coach K (lip read by Jay Bilas) lamented “No one wants to play tonight !!!”

After sleeping on it, it’s pretty obvious that just about every good coach in the country has realized where Duke’s Achilles Tendon is. Each of the losses so far this season were similar. There is no need to shut down “Oaks” because when you allow him to have his way, you lure the rest of the squad into a malaise that’s almost hypnotic.

Sleep-walking, or maybe sleep-standing, players do not achieve … they watch. Sure, “Oaks” is an exceptional player, but one player does not a successful team make. Duke does not have just one exceptional player, but if they are not involved, they fail. Friday night they failed.

During the game, we were lamenting the play, and especially the lack of Defense. Actually, there was no Defense. Ro made the most profound observation in our last article where he observed that: “… Duke’s idea of Defense is to outscore their opponents.”  Nary have truer words been spoken. Duke played little or no defense, and everyone else was shut out from scoring.

Warm up the Bus, it’s time to go home.

Moving forward, it appears as of this writing that Duke may have preserved it’s #1 Seed. If so, they’d most likely be playing in Charlotte. You can bet that many in the media, as well as the opposing #16 Seed coach will want to see history made by being the first to knock off a #1 Seed. Why not, Mercer and Lehigh figured it out, why not another Cinderella ???

If Coach K does not get his team to play as a total team, and that means all 8 guys, they will be warming up the bus a lot sooner again this year. This is not the way you want to go into the Big Dance, but he has 5-6 days to change how he has played these talented kids this season. It would surely be a shame if he were not able to do so.

 

Thanks for reading !!!  

Please leave you comments here or @SimplyDukeBB on Twitter

Point/CounterPoint #15 – After the Virginia Tech Game

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Today, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob cover the surprising Virginia Tech game, “Oaks,” Amile, “Quinny,” and Saturday’s visit by Syracuse to Cameron.   Here we go:

Query #1

The usual question just has to be asked, so here goes:  

What did we learn about this Duke team from their performance against Tech, or maybe the lack thereof ???

Rowan:

Nothing new was learned. Duke has no Rim protection and perimeter defense can lapse at times.  We also learned, or it was reinforced, that Quinn Cook is a very resilient fellow.  He will fight until the Final Whistle and has silently become Duke’s MVP.

Bermuda Bob:

Well, I’m of the opinion that we can never be too sure which Duke team shows up.  As many folks who do not get ESPN3 lamented, we did not get to see the game until the 1st Half was almost over.  Expecting to find Duke blowing out a 2-12 Va. Tech, we were flabbergasted !!!   Once again, as you have pointed out so many times, it seemed that Duke was playing down to the level of it’s competition.  Then, all of a sudden they awoke and realized they were in danger of losing.  Fortunately, it was in time, but just in the nick of time !!!

Query #2

“Oaks” had a career high of 30 points and 7 of his 9 Rebounds were on the Offensive Boards.  

Does it matter that neither he, nor anyone else, did not log a “double-double” ???

Rowan:

I can’t understand how he can be so nimble on the Offensive end and much less so on Defense. There is no set goal for anyone to achieve a “double-double” every game, at least none that I am aware of.

Bermuda Bob:

I agree that there is no goal of a “double-double” but the media seems obsessed with it. I think if you look at the stellar shooting of Va. Tech. you will realize the cause for so few Defensive Rebounds.  There simply were not many Rebounds to be had !!!  As a matter of fact, this was the worst Defensive Rebounding outing of the season for Duke. Of course when most of your opponent’s shot are going in, there just ain’t many Defensive Rebounds out there to be had !!!

Follow up Query:

What do you think of this tweet by @JeffBorzello, one of ESPN’s CBB Recruting Insiders ??? 

“If Jahlil Okafor has a chance to go against the defensive version of himself, he would score 50 points a game.”

Rowan:

Yikes !!! They have discovered Duke’s worst kept secret.

Bermuda Bob:

Ha !!! It would be more fun to see what would happen if “Oaks” were able to double-team himself, since he is more often double-teamed than not.  That could be the next version of “Twilight Zone” (CBB version) !!!

Query #3

Quinn Cook scored 26 Points on 6 of 11 from outside the Arc and 8 of 13 otherwise, plus 4 of 6 from the Charity Stripe.

Coach K sez he’s a 1st Team All-Conference Player.  

How does his continued performance compare to other Guards in this year’s class ???

Rowan:

When I hear First Team All-Conference only two names immediately spring to mind, Jerian Grant (17ppg, 6.6apg) and Malcolm Brogdon (14ppg 4rpg and 3 apg).  How does Cook compare to these guys ???

Duke’s lone Senior averages 16 Points, 3 Rebounds and as many Assists, but in the last 5 games he has failed to score over 20 Points only once, and that was a 17 Point game performance at Syracuse. 

Of the listed players only Jerian Grant plays as many minutes for his team (36 mpg) as Cook does for Duke.  As the Blue Devils are now second in Conference Standings and with Virginia’s players neutralizing each other, I think that First Team All Conference is a lock for Cook but he should have higher ambitions than that.  We should probably be discussing Cook as the Conference Player of the Year.

Bermuda Bob:

I think the knee-jerk voting will allow “Oaks” to sweep as many non-specific awards as possible. Of course, “Quinny” ought to be in line for the Bob Cousey and Jerry West Awards for exceptional Guard play.  I sincerely hope that consideration be given to the level of competition in the conference, as opposed to someone who is simply a shooter.

Query #4

Amile only played 14 minutes.  He logged in 6 Rebounds, 3 on each side of the Court.  He also blocked a shot and had an Assist, yet most of his minutes went to Matt, and a few to “Plums” and Grayson.

Coach K sez he has no “dog house” so what do you think is going on with Duke Co-Captain ???

Rowan:

I haven’t seen any egregious mistakes on the court from Jefferson, at least nothing worse than any other player.  DukeBasketballReport has tracked each player’s minutes before and after Rasheed Sulaimon, and Jefferson is the only player playing less.  They attributed this to Coach K playing a smaller lineup more often.  This doesn’t make that much sense because Jahlil is playing 33 minutes, so maybe they mean a smaller line up with the big fellow. Justise Winslow has been very effective at the “four spot,” has been hitting the boards hard, so maybe Coach K likes exploiting that mismatch.

Jefferson’s Free Throw shooting leaves a lot to be desired, but right now he is Duke’s best pick and roll defender among the “Bigs.”  Whenever he switches on to a Guard, it is not considered a mismatch with those long arms !!!  He is still an effective Low Post scorer and an above average Rebounder.

Do you remember how they beat Louisville ???  That was a beautiful game with Jefferson being effective in the High Post or around the Free Throw Line, and Okafor in the low post.

The man in the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 Zone will be important.  It may be Jefferson, but more likely Winslow, but just know either can be effective.

Bermuda Bob:

OK, it’s time for some truth.  Even though Amile has the second highest scoring average among Starters, he is not the greatest scoring threat.  He is more likely to score on a “put-back.”  He will not turn from the High Post and throw up a 15 footer, nor will he shoot even as much as Tyler Thornton did from outside the Arc.  That means that Defensive Players can “lay off” of him outside the paint and are available to double-team “Oaks.”

Matt Jones is more likely to have a good scoring night from distance, and he more-often-than-not plays good Defense.

You’re correct about his performance from the Charity Stripe, as he is only a smidgen better than “Oaks” there.  That pick-and-roll performance is certainly correct, but it only seems to happen when “Oaks” is off the floor.

I originally got caught up in an upperclassman Co-Captain not playing, or even the affect of Rasheed’s dismissal.  Looking at the big picture, at this time of year, one has to look at what works, and I’m sure that’s what we all want, even Amile !!!

Query #5

The Hokies shot and amazing 54.5% from outside the Arc, 53.4% from the Field, and 80% from the Charity Stripe.  There were plenty of folks on Twitter who were critical of Duke’s defensive prowess.   After the game, Coach K blamed it on “slippage,” insinuating he could not practice the team hard.

What do you make of that ???

Rowan:

All I can say to that is, when Duke came back into the game, around the 11 minute mark, Jahlil Okafor was sitting on the bench.  He is an amazing talent who “mails it in” on Defense.  When his teammates are watching him in the Low Post, they become very complacent.  In contrast, whenever those same teammates are all involved on Offense, they are incredibly active on the other end of the Court.  They are not beaten so easily off the dribble.

I want to give Virginia Tech some credit but I can’t see past the fact that Jalen Hudson scored a career high 23 points, while averaging only 6.5 a game.

I have heard some cries that maybe Duke could have gone to a Zone much earlier and taken the fight out of Virginia Tech, but they played most of the 1st Half in their weakest Man-to-Man Defense.  So, by the time they started playing Zone, VT’s confidence levels were off the charts and they were hitting everything they threw at the rim.

Bermuda Bob:

By anyone’s standard, the Va. Tech shooting was incredible. It has only been surpassed in a Duke game by the Blue Devil’s annihilation of Notre Dame in Cameron, where they shot 60% from outside the Arc, 61% from inside, and 73% from the Charity Stripe. In that game, Notre Dame played the same abysmal defense Duke played for most of the game. Fortunately, the difference is Duke woke up from their slumber in time to get into OverTime.

Your point on “Oaks” is not lost on me, especially if you note that towards the end of the game, where Coach K was making defensive/offensive substitutions.  He routinely took “Oaks” out in defensive situations and it paid premiums.

Sometimes, I believe the obvious, that “Oaks” “plays” defense so as not to get into foul trouble and be able to stay on the Court to score. Don’t take that as selfish when Coach K sez that everything goes thru him !!!

Look, I like the kid as much as any other Duke player, but there has not been a who played equally on both side of the Court since maybe the great Wilt Chamberlain.  That is why I am not a fan of NBA play anymore.  It seems to be that a player who excels on both sides of the Court is considered to be mediocre, even if he logs in Points and Rebounds in the teens every game of the year.  It is yet another negative impact of the “one-and-done” that is so distasteful to me.

Query #6

Tied for 5th place in the ACC with North Carolina, Syracuse is not rolling over and playing dead, even though they will have no post-season games.  They gave Duke a run for their money in the Carrier Dome and “Oaks” was very complimentary of Rakeem Christmas.

What do you expect this time in Cameron ???

Rowan:

They have nothing to lose, but there are some sub-plots to consider. Rakeem Christmas is a Senior and has NBA aspirations. Who best to prove yourself against than the potential first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft? Christmas thinks that he missed some easy shots and looks forward to the second matchup according to Syracuse.com. 

Jim Boeheim is next in line to crack 1000 Wins in Division I Men’s Basketball. He isn’t going to give Duke a win would he? Not again! Surely he will want to avenge his indiscretion last season.

Michael Gbinige comes back to Cameron.  

Bermuda Bob:

Well, “Silent G” will certainly be comfortable with the tims at Cameron, and I believe that the fans will be classy and welcome him back … well, as long as he doesn’t duplicate his effort back on the 14th.

Yes, regardless of where they are not going in post-season play, they would love to clip Duke at home, even more so than at the Carrier Dome.

The battle between Christmas and “Oaks” should be a good one, and I look forward to seeing them both on both sides of the Court. That would bode well for Duke going forward.

Query#8

With three games left in the regular season, what do you think of the season so far ???

Rowan:

It has been a very emotional season. Shouting at inanimate objects (TV) hair pulling etc. For a team that appears to be one of the best in college basketball, they have had one too many close games.  You just never know what Duke team will show up, but it has been fun rooting for these guys.  One thing I must say is the season has gone by pretty quickly !!!

Bermuda Bob:

WOW !!!   So, I’m not the only one yelling at the TV during a game ???  It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

I was heartened that Duke proved that they had a “Plan B” when “Oaks” went down briefly.  While that’s not something I want to see, it also means that foul trouble might not weigh as heavily on Duke in the post-season.   It also demonstrated that Duke is capable of stellar Defense under certain circumstances.

 

A Special Thanks to you, our readers !!!  

We welcome your comments here as well as on our Twitter address at:

@SimplyDukeBB

Point/CounterPoint Installment #11 – After Notre Dame & Florida State

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Today, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob discuss the 30 Point satisfaction of the Duke win at Home against Notre Dame and the tough win at Florida State on the road … 

Query #1

After blowing out Notre Dame at home, people were expecting a bigger win over Florida State, do you think this was unreasonable ??? 

Rowan:

It is a shame that the more success Duke has, the higher the expectations. Florida State has to be given some credit here, they did something a few teams have achieved this season: Move Jahlil Okafor off the block.  Michael Ojo is 7′ tall and weighs almost 300 pounds.  When he was in the game he used his strength to push Jahlil off the block.

The Freshman scored most of his 13 points in transition, or when the Nigerian import was on the bench. Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and especially Quinn Cook picked up the slack, offensively.

Bermuda Bob:

The Notre Dame game was an excellent effort and a great shooting exhibition. It may have been a demonstration giving credence to the thoughts we have had about Rasheed being a distraction.

As for Florida State, any opponent playing in Tallahassee will find it unwelcoming with intense fan pressure, just like at Cameron. That said, one of the criticisms of Coach K’s non-conference scheduling has been his noticeable lack of true “Away” games. I think this played a part in Monday’s game. 

Query #2

How would you rate the performance of the bench ??? 

Rowan:

Marshall Plumlee did a great job of holding down the forte while Okafor sat for most of the first half with two early fouls. Grayson Allen has lost ‘his deer in the headlights’ tag as he looks a little more comfortable on the court.

Matt Jones didn’t make any of his 6 shots but had 3 big offensive rebounds.

Allen played more minutes than usual but the trust isn’t there yet as Cook and Tyus Jones played around 40 minutes a piece !!!

Bermuda Bob:

Duke went into the LockerRoom up 32-24 with “Oaks” on the Bench in foul trouble, which caused the team to pass and find the cutting player.

Matt couldn’t find the “Hole” but looked like Duke’s new Tyler Thornton.

“Plums” again contributed 10 major minutes, playing tough Defense and showing better hands on Offense.

Grayson got 11 minutes off the Bench and began to look more comfortable. Just before his time was finished, he made a monster block from nowhere, leaping even higher than he needs to Dunk. 

Query #3

Who would you give the game ball to ???

Rowan:

That would be Quinn Cook, who scored a season high 26 points. Tyus Jones is a close second registering a personal best of a dozen assists to go with 16 points and a team high 6 rebounds.  This performance sent their coach into an ‘I told you so’ mode after the game.

“Those two guards have been rock solid for me, [Jones] and Quinn,” Krzyzewski said.  “Remember when we started the year, I don’t know if you remember, but everyone’s saying, ‘How’s that going to work out ???’  Well, it’s worked out pretty darn well.

Offensively they are good.  Defensively they still need work judging by the way Florida State got back into the game, but who am I to rain on Coach K’s parade !!!

Bermuda Bob:

I agree on Quinn, but think he ought to share it with Tyus. After all, they often played off each other, as proven by the 12 Assists Tyus was responsible while none for Quinn.   

Query #4

There is a consensus that Duke is a different team since the start of the conference year, when they lost two in a row, can you see this ???

Rowan:

Their limitations are still very evident … no rim protection, or pick and roll … Defense on the perimeter is still a sieve, however they are doing a good job of covering these weaknesses.

There is also a little more bite in their bark. Against Miami and NC State, when they were taken out of the game, they just didn’t seem to have any fight in them.  Now, they go down 10 to an undefeated Virginia in the waning moments of the game, and still manage to win.  On the road, against Florida State, even though they gave up a good lead, they remained composed and held on for the victory.

I think the turnaround was at Notre Dame when they fought hard but still lost. After that game Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook have played with a lot more zest. Winslow seems to be overcoming his injury game by game.

Bermuda Bob:

Duke is a maturing work in progress. Early on, opponents had no clue how to contain “Oaks” but now every opponent seems to have a game plan for him. Now, if “Oaks” goes to the Bench, they are showing a different but very effective look thanks to good Guard play. “Plums” playing hardnosed has been a big plus. The return to form by Justise is a huge plus. Matt has seemed to have begun to be Amile’s substitute, making that Forward position hard to consistently defend.

All that said, they are not yet tournament ready, but they’re getting there.   Once again I have to wonder what the heck was going on with Rasheed that catapulted him from the team and the team into a more unified squad.   Something tells me we won’t know anytime soon !!!

Query #5

Coach K turns 68 on Friday but Jason Williams (now of ESPN) thinks he has a lot left in the tank, do you think this is possible ???

Rowan:

First of all let me wish a very Happy Birthday to our own Bermuda Bob who was born two days (albeit years later) before Coach K but has never brought this up in all the years that I have known him.

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating your own milestone.

Larry Brown who currently coaches SMU is 74 and Jim Boeheim is 70, so yes I think Coach K has another 5 years left in him if he desires it.

Incidentally Coach K’s mentor, Bob Knight, resigned from Texas Tech at 68.

Bermuda Bob:

Thanks, Ro !!!  I’m a bit younger (by 8 years) and I can tell you that it all comes down to your mind and body together cooperating with what you want to accomplish. That said, it appears that Coach K has no visible reason why he could not continue as Jay Williams notes.  He does not seem to have lost any physicality, nor a bit of his wit and presence … just ask the Reporters on the Duke “beat.”    I think that he would never stay even one day past the time when he could no longer be everything he feels he needs to be to the team, each player, the fans, and the University.

I know it sounds hackneyed, but age is just a number. When you’re doing what you love, with those you love, supported by those you love, longevity comes naturally. He will know when it’s time …

 

Thank you for reading our articles …

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Point/CounterPoint Installament #10 – After the Duke Win Against Virginia

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell and Bermuda Bob talk about what we learned from Duke’s win against Virginia, and what we expect going forward to the Georgia Tech tonight, and then Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon …

Query #1

We have had plenty of time to think about how and why Duke won on Saturday in Virginia.

Why do you think Duke won that game ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I have been over the Virginia game from every perspective.  I reviewed the Play-by-Play, I even went back over our comments to each other during the game.  I honestly believe that Virginia did what we both have criticized Duke for in the past – they took their foot off the throttle and it allowed Duke to double-down on their efforts.  The stern perimeter defense of Virginia got lazy and simply double-teamed “Oaks” which allowed Tyus, Quinn, and Matt to hit very big 3 Pointers and shift the momentum to Duke.  Knowing Tony Bennett, that will not happen again against anyone else in the conference !!!

Ro:

Some people have credited Duke for going to a 3-2 Zone in closing moments of the game, which cut off the middle and flustered Virginia, but Duke should really be credited for playing a team game.

In the 1st Half, Virginia did a very good job of taking Okafor out of the game, offensively, and that was their mistake. When Okafor carries the Offense, it makes his team mates complacent.  Keep all 5 guys involved and Duke is formidable down the stretch.  With the big Freshman tied down, everyone was forced to get involved offensively and that does marvels for one’s confidence. Hence, Tyus Jones’s big shot at the end of the game.

I have to give credit to Okafor for overcoming a horrendous start (5 turnovers) to finish the game strong. Those guys would not have been as open as they were if Okafor hadn’t made himself into a target.  This was the most psyched I have  seen the Freshman in 21 games. He ran the floor hard and hit the Offensive Boards for a put back.  He really worried his defenders and made some clean, crucial passes.

Query #2

One of our Readers, Bill W has asked why “Plums” is not playing more, and maybe even on the Court WITH “Oaks.”

What do you think of Bill’s idea ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I think Bill has touched on an excellent point.  Very often “Oaks” seems to be playing not to Foul, which means there is no Defense at all !!!   I lost track of the BackDoor scores and times when Virginia drove the lane uncontested.  The Offense suffers when “Plums” is in because he is not an offensive threat.   He continues to try to set those goofy looking Picks much too far away from the Paint.  He does, however, play hard-nosed defense and challenges everyone who approaches.

I think he deserves more floor time.  Besides, “Oaks” seems to often be “puffed” from having defenders hanging on him constantly, so “Plums” has a role.  I also think a 2-1-2 Zone with the “Twin Towers” look, with Amile as the Center, could flummox defenders with yet another Zone look. 

Ro:

Offensively, Lieutenant Plumlee has potential.  We have seen him pull off the occasional back-to-the-basket move, but those are rare occasions where he was allowed to get comfortable on the court.

I do agree with Bermuda Bob when he says that Plumlee challenges everything.  He may Foul often but he does something very valuable for this team – he hedges.  Whenever the opposing team picks off a Duke Guard, Plumlee does not retreat to the paint, but steps forward to plug the hole, stopping the easy penetration. Someone else might have let the Guard through hoping to block the shot.

Query #3

Grayson Allen got in 11 minutes of Court time against Virginia.  

What did you think of his performance ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I honestly believe that no player, especially a Frosh, can get better and contribute to his team’s system, without playing time.  Grayson has looked somewhat tentative because he has gotten only 109 minutes in the 21 games Duke has played.  A few times he never got his Warm-Up off during the game.  Since we know that he is capable of driving the Lane, and is seemingly willing to do so, I think he ought to be encouraged to.  That way, he might be more open for shots from the outside.  Let’s hope it happens for him and he gets a faire chance. 

Ro:

He was not very memorable. Maybe Allen should practice dunking less and work on his overall game more. I always marvel at a kid’s Youtube highlights where he is dunking everything, then gets to college and looks grounded. With his athletic ability he should be able to get to the paint more often. For homework he should study film of Gerald Henderson and his pull up mid-range Jumper.

Query #4

What do you make of the very evident lockdown of any information about Rasheed’s dismissal ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

There are two great scenes in the movie “Moonstruck” that the banishment of Rasheed reminded me of. In each scene, Professor Perry is seated in the Grand Ticino Restaurant with a young, beautiful student of his when she abruptly jumps up, throws water in his face, and leaves. Each time the Waiter assists the Professor as he proclaims: “… just please take away all remnants of her …”

I think that it looks like Coach K has installed the “Loose Lips Sinks Ships” mode for the team.  It makes perfect sense, but it has caused a wholesale wave of speculation.  Most of it is probably a bunch of baloney by people looking for a story.  I presume Rasheed might be forthcoming sooner or later, but here’s a thought … He was not expelled, so there is no reason why Coach K couldn’t reinstate him next year after addressing whatever was the cause of his dismissal.  Time will tell !!!

Oh, and by-the-way, I believe that henceforth any questions about Rasheed to Coach K or anyone from the programme will be met with Cosmo Castorini’s (also of “Moonstruck” fame) favourite proclamation: “I don’t wanna talk about it !!!”

Ro:

It is as if he was never there.

Query #6

Was this game an emotional reaction to the loss of Sulaimon, and as cooler heads prevail will the Junior’s absence be more evident from the team ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

I believe fans will notice the loss more than the team will. He was a true “prime-time player” and the loss of his defensive prowess will be noticeable. Rasheed played both side of the court. I do not see anyone else on the Bench capable of filling his shoes. 

Ro:

I thought that Duke may have turned a corner after the Notre Dame game because the general feeling was that they all played well but they lost. I felt that it was a “good loss” because they knew that they could “hang” with a team like that. They lost because of some key mistakes down the stretch.  Tangible mistakes that they could improve upon. Then Sulaimon got dismissed.

We won’t know if this is a distraction until maybe the second or third game after the emotions have subsided.

Query #7

What are your thoughts on the Georgia Tech game tonight ???

Bermuda Bob:

I hope that Duke does not take Tech for granted and begin to look to Saturday afternoon’s re-match with Notre Dame at Cameron.  I hope they use the game to work on execution of their Zone.  I prefer a 2-1-2 Zone to address Duke’s penchant for allowing BackDoor cuts because they rarely deny the BaseLine to opponents.  I’d also like to see Duke put the “hammer” down and finish a game as tough as they usually begin each half.

Ro:

I wonder if Duke is a team that plays to the level of their competition. They get psyched for games against Louisville, Wisconsin and Virginia but drop the ball against Miami and NC State. They even played well against Notre Dame but struggled against conference bottom dwellers like Wake Forest and Boston College even though they eventually prevailed.

I want to see Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook being aggressive all game and not standing around waiting for scraps off Okafor’s plate. Also, Jahlil Okafor didn’t get to the Free Throw Line, but Duke shot only 53% from the Line. It would have been worse if Tyus hadn’t made 5-of-6. There is still room for improvement.

Query #8

Are you amazed that Duke has continued to be ranked very highly in the Associated Press ???

Bermuda Bob:

Both of the rankings are nothing more than snapshots in time, and as such makes them somewhat reactionary, almost a “What have you done for me lately” type of thing. It honestly means nothing to me. Everyone knows that the month of February is pivotal in each of the major conferences as it sets the tone and seedings of the Conference Tournaments. Those Conference Tournaments seed the Big Dance. Ranking anyone anywhere does not necessarily reflect on who they are, just who they have impressed !!!

Ro:

I can see why Duke is still ranked high after losing to #8 Notre Dame and beating #2 Virginia. Plus Virginia was undefeated in 19 games, so Duke beating them on their home turf has to be rewarded. Some people point to the fact that Duke is currently middle of the pact in ACC standings. but they ignore the fact that the Blue Devils have played only 8 Conference games. Most teams have played 9. Notre Dame and North Carolina, both ahead of Duke in the standings, have played 10.

 

 We welcome all of your comments, and suggestions for topics !!!

Point/CounterPoint #8 – After a Disappointing Performance Against Notre Dame

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In this installment Ro Shiell & Bermuda Bob examine the reasons for last night’s loss to Notre Dame and what it means for their future.   

Here goes … 

Query #1

On a night where Justice Winslow, Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook and Jahlil Okafor were hot, Duke still lost. Where did it go wrong ???

Rowan:     Notre Dame did a better job of adjusting to Duke than Duke did adjusting to them. It didn’t help that Jerian Grant was playing at a premium level either !!!

Bermuda Bob:     I know it sounds blasphemous to say, but the student out-coached the Teacher. Notre Dame was more poised, passed very effectively, and took better shots, shooting 52% to Duke’s 46%. Trifectas were a wash, but Duke lost the battle at the Charity Stripe by 19%. There is your 4 Point differential in a nutshell !!!

 Query #2

What now for Duke ???

Rowan:     They lost to a very good team on the road. Grant just nailed the ACC Player of the Year award, and it is now his to lose. The Blue Devils just need a more effective defensive system that will mask their very obvious weaknesses. Notre Dame is a terrible matchup for Duke because they have quick Guards that exploit Duke’s perimeter defense and interior defense.

Bermuda Bob:     Good coaches have figured out more than one way to handle “Oaks” on Offense. His Defense is questionable. I pointed out plenty of times during the game that he just stood there as if he was afraid to be called for a Foul. Great Centers in history knew how to challenge Shooters in the Lane. He will learn that someday, but not at Duke, just as both Plumlees have !!!

I think Coach K needs to develop a simple Game Plan for each game and commit to it. I’m not too sure these kids can make complicated changes in the heat of a game.

Query #3

One of the rhetoric being floated around is that Duke is still a young team, do you think this is correct ???

Rowan:     Yes this is very true. In an ideal world Duke would take their lumps this season then come back stronger and better the following season, but with this team there is no room for that. Three Freshman have an appointment with Adam Silver in June and I don’t think they want to miss that. Here is the thing, Duke also have 3 Upperclassmen. Amile Jefferson, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon. Amile only played 17 minutes and Sulaimon was 1-of-6 on field goals. Cook played a heck of a game though.

Bermuda Bob:     OK, you asked for it !!!   Coach K has succumbed to the “one-and-done” recruit, much to my dismay. Going back to Kyrie Irving, each team has been subverted to a kid who had no intention of staying at Duke more than one season. This year, the Upperclassmen are seemingly in the minority, and possibly all 4 could be gone next year. I worry Grayson may leave, making it 4 kids in 4 years.

As far as the game is concerned, Notre Dame put one Frosh on the floor for 15 minutes. Duke was playing against 2 Seniors, 1 Junior, and 2 Sophomores, starting.   THAT is why they moved the ball so well. THAT is why they looked so much more poised. THAT is why their Defense seemed so much tougher. It’s great that the Duke kids seem to like each other and get along well. Unfortunately, they lack true cohesiveness because they have not played together long enough, and they don’t intend to any longer than they have to !!!

Query #4

Who would you appoint as Duke’s player of the game?

Rowan:     Jahlil Okafor had a great stat line (22 points, 17 rebounds) but I wish Duke would play a more inclusive game, offensively, and not rely too much on the Freshman. He played 36 minutes and was visibly exhausted as Notre Dame wore him down.

Justice Winslow made some key shots but he isn’t himself, maybe due to a current injury, but it was good to see him hitting from the Three Point Line.

Bermuda Bob:     I do not believe in awarding a Game Ball when the team loses. I think Duke’s Guards were stymied and produced mediocre stats. Matt Jones did not score well, but produced 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, and 1 Steal off the bench. Together, Quinn and Tyus had 6 Rebounds, 4 Assists, and 2 Steals. Oh, by-the-way, Matt only played 21 minutes versus 40 and 38 minutes respectively. Notre Dame’s Guard play was so tremendous, I won’t quote it !!!

I also believe that a Center’s Field Goal Percentage ought to have an asterisk because, while they are often spectacular, his shots are always in the Paint. I can’t recall the last time he shot facing the Basket. You cannot fairly compare his Shooting Percentage to the others who usually shoot facing the Basket and from distance. That’s the job assigned to “Oaks” and he does it well, but one might say he gave away the game from the Charity Stripe shooting 2 of 7.

Justise shot better with 4 of 7 from the Field and 3 of 4 from outside the Arc. It demonstrates that he is healing, and his extension is coming back. It may still be some time before we see the dynamic presence he was early on. I just hope he does not worry about being injured again. It is human nature to cower from what hurt you before.

I’m dismayed that Coach K only used “Plums” for 6 minutes. I don’t get why Amile only got 17 minutes in favour of a relatively ineffective Matt Jones and/or Rasheed. Combined, the three shot 4 of 14 with nothing from outside the Arc. If Coach was trying to accomplish something with this “rotation,” it failed !!!

Query #5

How was the officiating ???

Rowan:     No play stands out to me as overly terrible so I would say it was OK overall.

Bermuda Bob:     I made the comment during the game that the Refs were so faire that they were surely not “homers” like the Officiating Crew for the St. John’s game seemed to be.

I was dismayed to hear that Coach K complained about the physicality of the game these days. Obviously it tires “Oaks,” but it goes both ways. I’d prefer to see fewer Blocking Fouls and more Offensive Fouls.   Kids are playing less hard core Defense these days because of “ticky-tack” touch Fouls.

When so many Fouls are called – and I’m speaking about CBB in general – the Refs become part of the outcome of the game, and that is never right !!!

Query #6

Think Duke can beat Virginia ???

Rowan:     Virginia is very similar to Notre Dame but have arguably the best defense in college basketball. This game will be a make or break game for Duke.  They just played good in a game they lost now they have to play an incredibly good team.

Bermuda Bob:     Well, if I were a betting man, I’d stay away from the game. Virginia is arguably the best defensive team around and their offense is shooting 47%, 40% of their Trifectas, and 75% from the Charity Stripe.

Virginia played a Senior, 5 Juniors, 1 Sophomore, and 2 Frosh against Notre Dame, at Notre Dame, and prevailed by 6 Points !!!

I think that if Duke loses it may very well prove that they (A) they learned nothing from this game, or (B) are incapable of making the changes from what they learned from this game. Neither is encouraging.

Well, that’s it for our debate folks.  Please tell us what you think. 

Editor’s Note:   This debate took place BEFORE the news of Rasheed Su-Su-Sulaimon being released.   We did not know about it and it did not impact our debate.