Filed under: ACC Conference Rankings
Here are this week’s ACC Power Rankings. It was a rough week for the ACC, as it seemed almost everyone suffered a loss. The Devils earned the top spot after winning the NIT, while NC State moves up nearly half-a-dozen slots. The biggest loser was Maryland, who had a rough time in Hawaii. Enjoy.
The victory over No 13 Connecticut boosts the Blue Devils to No 1 in the ACC. John Scheyer’s 10.3/1 assist-to-turnover ratio should impress even the greatest Scheyer haters.
2. North Carolina
Larry Drew’s 10 assists against Nevada was a good sign for the Tar Heels faithful. However, a new question has emerged…which freshman will Coach Williams be able to rely on once ACC play starts, particurally at the guard spot? Strickland and McDonald are shooting in the low 30′s, hitting only 1-11 from behind the three-point line.
A great comeback win over No 10 Butler will help Tigers fans get over the A&M loss, but Trevor Booker needs to get more shots. Four times in seven games, he has failed to take double-digit shots. He’s an All-ACC player, get him the damn rock.
4. Florida State
Solomon Alabi only hit four shots against Marquette Sunday night, but his last one with 11.9 seconds left, handed the Seminoles a one-point win over a solid Marquette squad. Great players make great plays at big moments, that’s what mamma always taught me.
5. Georgia Tech
Freshman Derrick Favors is hitting an astonishing .722 from the floor. Over his last three games, he’s hit 18 of his last 21 shots. However, he has yet to take 10 or more shots in a game this season. Are you seeing a theme here in my week three rankings?
6. North Carolina State
There have been plenty of early season loses in the ACC and I’ll admit, I’m surprised the Wolfpack wasn’t one of those. Junior Tracy Smith has led the way, averaging a double-double (15/11).
7. Virginia Tech
The Hokies have eight players averaging double-digit minutes, yet only two players are averaging double-digit points. Malcolm Delaney leads the team with 21.8 per game. He can thank his ability to get to the line. He has taken 43 free throws so far. The next top-three guys on the team have combined to take just 41 free throws.
8. Wake Forest
Not only did Wake lose to William & Mary, the game was no contest. It didn’t help that the Demon Deacons took 36 three-point shots, hitting only 10. While guard Ishmael was the worse (2-9), Aminu was a solid 0-7 from three, 4-18 all together.
There are cupcakes and then there are cupcakes. The Canes may be 7-0 but three of those wins came against schools I didn’t even know existed until I saw them on Miami’s schedule (Nova Southest, Florida Gulf Coast and my personal favorite, USC Upstate).
Hawaii was unkind for the Terps. After taking down Chaminade, they were no match for Cincinnati and Wisconsin. The first half was the problem. In those two loses, they’ve been outscored in the first 20 minutes, 58-35.
11. Boston College
Where’s the D? The Eagles have given up 80+ in four games, including both their loses. In their 12-point defeat to Northern Iowa, BC allowed the Panthers to shoot 65% from the field.
For a guard, Sylven Landesberg really can’t shoot the long ball. A year after hitting only 31% of his three pointers, he’s at 22% so far this season. Of course he’s only taken nine threes this season.
What if I told you that Duke would should 29% from the floor and still beat Connecticut?
What if I told you that Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith would combine for 7-33 and Duke would still beat Connecticut?
What if I told you that Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and Miles Plumlee would all foul out, but Duke would still beat Connecticut?
What if I told you Duke would hit only one basket and make two free throws in the final 12:25 of the game, but still beat Connecticut?
You’d probably say, this guy is full of sh*t and I wouldn’t blame you. Yet, here are the Blue Devils with another NIT Preseason Tip-Off Championship. In fact, the game was pretty damn easy until about the 12 minute mark in the second half when the Devils became allergic to putting the ball in the basket.
Duke should get major props. It was a great game plan, it was well executed, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. In reality though, this game probably tells us more about the Huskies weaknesses than it does about Duke’s strength at this point. The Huskies had no outside shooting, relying solely on the dribble drive. It worked at first, as they hit 9-14 at the beginning of the game. It worked because the drivers, Dyson and Walker, mixed up their drives with both shots and solid passes to the big men, often for an easy layup or a dunk. However, the pair got selfish with the ball. For the game, the pair took 32 of their teams 61 shots, making under 33% of them (10 total).
So what did I see?
I saw that UConn had zero outside game. They went 0-4 from behind the three line. In fact, down by 18 with 12 minutes to go, I don’t believe the Huskies actually attempt a three-point shot. You can’t comeback if you’re afraid to launch from downtown.
I saw that Connecticut couldn’t hit a free throw. The Huskies got to the free line more, but made less free throws. They hit only 15-28 (including a couple front ends of one-and-one’s). Dyson in particular, a point guard with a knack of getting close to the basket, hit only 3-9 for the game. That’s unacceptable for a big man, let alone a guard. Duke meanwhile, shot 20-25 from the line.
I saw our big’s really control the paint. You can win when you shoot under 30% when you rebound. Duke grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and scored 15 second-chance points. Our three big men, Plumlee, Zoubek and Thomas grabbed 27 total rebounds (we ask for just 24 per game). Lance had a solid double-double 11/11 for the game.
Still though, they’re still having issues creating shots and it’s going to become a problem. Zoubek and Thomas, in particular, are good at grabbing rebounds and put backs. They’re good at just getting in the right spots of the floor, but both have not been able to take advantage of the one-on-one coverage.
Zoubek continues, after all these years, to bring the ball down, turning him into a six-footer. This is so frustrating to watch. Just shoot the damn ball. After four years, Brian hasn’t learned a simple two-step jump hook?
Lance Thomas is more athletic than Zoubek, but he continues to hesitate when he gets the ball. That hesitation allows the defense to get into proper position. It’s time for both Lance and Brian to just stop thinking and play.
Let’s move on.
I saw John Scheyer continue to play within himself. He struggled from the field (6-18), but he led Duke in scoring (19), while grabbing four boards, dishing out five assists, swiping three steals, turning the ball over only one time. Despite not playing a traditional point guard role, he’s dished out at least four assists in each game, turning it over only three times all season long (note: ESPN kept announcing that he had four turnovers on the season, but according to ESPN.com & CNNSI.com, it’s three…so we’ll roll with that). This means for the season, Scheyer has an astonishing 10.3/1 assist-to-turnover rate.
I saw that Kyle Singler’s shot is MIA. For the NIT, he hit a forgettable 7-28. In fact, if you include the Radford game, he’s shooting 11-41 (27% from the floor). It’s a slump and it’s nothing to worry about, especially when others step up and especially when he plays defense. Speaking of D, did yo notice…
Kyle Singler is playing defense a lot like Shane Battier. One of the most basic defensive mistakes players make is when they are defending a shooter, they don’t know how to “put a hand in the face.” Players often reach up for the ball, knowing there is absolutely zero chance of blocking the ball, yet still giving the shooter a clean-ish look at the basket. What the good defenders do is, don’t bother with the bullsh*t “block” attempt. A good defender gets his hands right in the face of a defenders face, right in between the shooters arms.
Just watch Shane Battier defend Kobe Bryant.
Friday night, every time a Connecticut player tried to take a jumper in front of Singler, he got his hand in their face and they missed. I counted six times this happened. You play defense like this, you can afford to miss 10 shots.
I saw that Duke’s offense disappeared in the final 12 minutes. For the record, Duke hit one basket and two free throws in the final 720 seconds against Connecticut. Obviously at the 7-8 minute mark, Duke slowed it down, typically not getting into the flow of their offense until the 18-second mark. Yet again, Duke stopped dropping the ball inside, allowing the Huskies the guard just three players. We cannot abandon the inside game.
Anyhow, after wards, the discussion of the day turned to Duke’s “athleticism” or lack of athleticism. According to The Big Lead, ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb felt after the ASU game that Duke was “alarmingly unathletic.”
Of course Coach K wasn’t too pleased after the UConn game and had this to say:
He should be an expert on alarmingly non-athletic. So I’ll have to take a look at that a little bit closer because it comes from an expert who actually knows what it feels like to be alarmingly non-athletic.
Actually, we’re pretty athletic; we’re just not as athletic as UConn. Singler is a really good athlete. Lance, Miles. Jon is not leaping tall buildings with a single bound but he’s a real good athlete. But I wouldn’t call us like this athletic team, but we’re not amazingly non-athletic. And I would rather not get into a discussion with Doug because I have respect of his stature and he should have his arguments with people of similar stature. That would be a good thing.
I’d have to agree with TBL, Coach K is being a little sensitive about this, but that’s how he is. Read this article by Will Blythe from three years ago and you’ll understand why. He’s a man that takes every slight, whether real or imagine, personally and uses it as motivation. You know who the king of that was? Michael Jordan. Just go back and watch his Hall of Fame speech. However, that was one of the ways Jordan made himself a great player. It was how he motivated himself on the court. He did it, lots of people do it and Coach K has done it for years.
In reality though, Doug Gottlieb is right. Duke is not an athletic team and it has nothing to do with certain players whiteness. Let’s face the facts. Sure, compared to me, Duke is very athletic. Compared to the average person on this planet, Duke players are athletic. However, when you think in basketball terms, athleticism simply means, the ability to create one’s own shot. Outside of Nolan Smith, Duke doesn’t have that right now. Andre Dawkins could become that guy, but for now he’s a jump shooter.
For Duke guards to get penetration, they must rely on the screens from the big guys. For Duke’s big guys to get open shots, they rely on being in the right position, while others deliver the ball to them. Coach K knows this. You don’t think for one second he’d rather be back in the old dribble-drive offense of Jason Williams and Chris Duhon? If we had John Wall, that’s exactly what we’d be doing. If anything, Krzyzewski should be given major props for not trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. He’s always shown the ability to switch his offense to fit the players he has.
This team is not athletic. Thi is fact. However, they are smart and they are tough. That’s not a white player or a black player thing, that’s experience, something Duke has a lot of this season.
In reality, John Scheyer and his abilities are the face of the team. I believe Dick Vitale said it best, “he knows his limitations and plays within himself.” He could barely drive pass a light pole, but somehow he finds himself alone in the paint. He’s never going to win a slam dunk contest, but he knows how to get in the air, hang there and get fouled. He still has less muscles than my wife, but he still pulls down 3-4 rebounds per game.
The irony is, starting next season, Duke will be one of the more athletic teams in the ACC, if not the nation. Kyrie Irving will be one of the top three quickest point guards, while Tyler Thornton will make it a solid 1-2 combo, meaning Duke will have a speedy PG on the court at all times. Seth Curry (transfer from Curry) is a scoring machine, much like his brother. Joshua Hairston is…well…let ESPN tell you.
He has always been highly rated but he dominated at times during the event. Josh is a high post 4-man that can shoot with range to 19 feet. He is also effective off the dribble and can create his own shot versus other post players. He rebounded and blocked shots all day long and was a presence in the paint. Hairston is a solid athlete and runs the court well.
Filed under: ACC Basketball
Is the ACC about to have a rough year? If early season results are any indication, the sky is looking gray. The 12 teams in the ACC have faced 11 “BCS schools” and have gone an awful 4-7 so far.
Miami beat South Carolina (SEC)
Duke beat Arizona State (PAC 10)
North Carolina beat Ohio State (BIG 10)
North Carolina State beat Auburn (SEC)
Clemson lost to Texas A&M (BIG 12)
North Carolina lost to Syracuse (BIG EAST)
Florida State lost to Florida (SEC)
Maryland lost to Cincinnati (BIG EAST) and Wisconsin (BIG 10)
Virginia lost to South Florida (BIG EAST) and Stanford (PAC 10)
Both Boston College (dropped two games already) and Georgia Tech have lost to an Atlantic 10 team, but those two teams (Saint Joseph’s and Dayton are only a combined 5-4 so far this season.
Neither Virginia Tech or Wake Forest have faced a “BCS School.”
What has all this taugh me? Duke might be in trouble against Connecticut. The ACC is 0-3 against the Big East.
Filed under: Duke Recap | Tags: Conneticut, Duke vs Arizona State, NIT Preseason Tournament
Wednesday night, the Duke Blue Devils looked a lot like last year’s Duke Blue Devils, “deciding” to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils with only three players. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean they actually played with only three players on the court, but sometimes it was hard to tell that there were five players from Duke on the court.
WHAT DID I SEE?
I saw three players, Singler, Scheyer and Smith contribute all of Duke’s scoring against ASU. Singler, Scheyer and Smith took 43 of Duke’s 55 shots, making 17 of the Devil’s 23 shots. Not good. That’s good enough to win a second round game in the NCAA Tournament (where we’d face a team like ASU), but we won’t survive the Sweet 16 with that type of production (against teams like UConn).
I saw the Big’s come up small. Plumlee, Zoubek and Thomas pulled down only 16 boards (they need to average 22-25 per game), scoring only 13 points, while committing 13 fouls. This type of production is unacceptable against a team like ASU, who’s best big man was former Dukie, Eric Boateng.
Now it’s easy to blame the big boys, but the blame also lies in the guards, as well as Singler. Early in the second half, the Devils abandoned going inside, instead whipping the ball around and around the three-point line between Singler, Scheyer, Smith and Dawkins. They would either shoot a three or drive to the middle. I was there, 30-feet away and there were plenty of times when one of our big men got into a good position, but the ball was not delivered.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know our big boys are not going to own the paint and put up 20 points, but basketball is a lot like football. In football, you can’t become one-dimensional and just pass. Even if you’re struggled to run the ball, you still have to pound it inside enough to keep the defense honest.
Duke’s inside game is the running game. Sure it’s not going to win games running the ball, but we have to, I stress have to get that ball inside from time to time, to keep the defense honest.
I saw Singler go cold. Kyle struggled, big time, scoring only one basket in the first 26+ minutes. He did manage to hit four straight midway through the second, but overall, he was 5-16 on the night (1-5 from three). Everyone deserves an off-night, but Singler’s problem was simple, he abandoned the mid-range jumper the second the game started. He shot three’s or drove too deep into the lane, often getting stuck with an ugly shot between the trees.
In reality, Singler stood a good 3-5 inches taller than any defender the Sun Devils threw at him. All he needed to do was get into the lane and pull up. He didn’t figure this out until about the 13 minute mark. He hit his next four shots, three of which were mid-range jumpers (he missed another one, but it was a good shot that rolled out).
I saw Scheyer finally turns it over. He went four games without turning the ball over before finally coughing it up at around the 11-minute mark in the first half. We’ll cut the kid some slack. It was his only turnover, all while dishing out five assists for the game. For the season, he has a 26/1 assist-to-turnover rate. No too shabby.
I saw Coach K tightens up the rotation. We’re five games in and coach is already reverted to a seven-man rotation. Kelly did play, but only for five minutes, all in the first half. He took not shots and pulled down zero rebounds. Singler, Scheyer and Smith all played a full 40 minutes. If this is the norm, this team is going to struggle this year. This wasn’t some important ACC battle with UNC, this was game five against Arizona State.
I got to attend this game (as you can see in the pictures). It was pretty amazing how much of a home-field advantage MSG has become against some foes. However, against the Huskies Friday afternoon, look for the crowd to even out. There are a lot of UConn faithful in and around NYC.
For the record, Coach K’s daughter (right), not sure which one it was, but she herself had two daughters, was a bit of a M.I.L.F., but man can she yell. Sitting four rows behind her father and three ahead of me, she spent the entire game “coaching” from the stands, all while still paying attention to her two young kids. Impressive.
Back to the game, sorry.
Obviously I’m being a little harsh on the Blue Devils. I’ve got very little positive to say, despite the fact they won by 11 Wednesday night. In reality though, it was not a good game and the results had more to do with a lack of weapons by the Sun Devils. ASU slowed the pace of the game down with a solid zone (Duke shot only 4-18 from three), while running a near-perfect Stockton/Malone style pick-n-roll. It wasn’t to about the 13-minute mark, after Coach K called a timeout, did Duke’s guards finally start running through the picks. Prior to that, the big man would roll off with ASU point guard Derek Glasser, who more often than not, proceeded to blow up our trees.
Having said all that, tonight was a win and a win is a win, especially when you look around the ACC and see the loses (Carolina, Clemson, FSU, Georgia Tech have all lost once, Maryland, Virginia and Boston College have all already lost twice). However, play like this again Friday and Connecticut is going to roll over us. While I personally think we can compete with Walker and Dyson (I said compete, not beat), the inside size of the Huskies (Robinson, Oriakhi, Okwandu and Edwards) will dominate our inside guys.
Over all Raycom Sports, I’m participating in a ACC Power Rankings. the “rankers” are done by different bloggers, each representing a different team from the ACC. Obviously, I represent the Devils. We want to make sure to give props to Testudo Times, for organizing and running the rankings (yeah he’s a Terp, but not everyone can be perfect).
Here’s how this week’s rankings shacked up.
Final Position – Week 2
1. Duke (1.3)
2. UNC (2.35)
3. Clemson (3.07)
4. Maryland (4.35)
5. Wake (5.92)
6. Georgia Tech (6.28)
7. Florida State (6.35)
8. Miami (8)
9. Va. Tech (8.78)
10. Boston College (9.78)
11. NC State (10)
12. Virginia (11.71)
No big changes from week one. Thanks to the Orange, Duke and UNC swapped spots, while Georgia Tech dropped a spot after being upset by Dayton. Anyhow, below are MY official rankings. As you will see, I stand alone in my belief in the Florida State Seminoles, while slightly underestimating the Clemson Tigers.
NOTE: These rankings were done Sunday night. Some results have occurred over the last two days that would make a big difference.
BIG DUKE BALLS WEEK TWO RANKINGS:
1. NORTH CAROLINA
I bet you expected me to move Duke up to No 1. You people really don’t know me at all. Listen, I’m not going to punish UNC for one bad 8-minute stretch. Yeah, it was pretty bad, but for now, they’ll stay on top. Having said that, the Tar Heels need to find a leader on the floor. Coach Williams can plenty of timeouts and make all the cute coaching changes he wants to stop a bad stretch, but when things are going wrong, someone on the floor needs to be THE GUY. Last year’s title team had three guys who could be that guy.
They’re winning by 34 points a game, but they’ve only faced cupcakes in Durham. Win the NIT Preseason Tournament, then I’ll be impressed. However, can I point out that John Scheyer has a 21:0 assist-to-turnover ratio? He’s played 131 minutes and has not turn the ball over once this season.
3. FLORIDA STATE
Soloman Alabi needs to start getting nasty in the middle. Right now, pulling down just half-a-dozen rebounds per game. They also need Michael Snaer to take some shots. Two shots against Mercer is not acceptable for the freshman.
What’s wrong with Greivis Vasquez? He’s shooting just 30% from the floor, averaging only 7.5 per game. If I was a Terps fan (God that sucked just writing that), I wouldn’t sweat it. He’s pressing a bit, but he’s a senior, he’ll get his act together.
The Tigers had a lot of question marks for their guards heading into the season, but so far two sophomores (Smith, Young) and a freshman (N. Johnson) have answered the questions…in a positive way. The trio of young guards have averaged 29 points, 8.8 rebounds and seven assists per game.
6. GEORGIA TECH
Despite all the talent, we can’t forget how young and inexperienced this team is. No shame in losing to a ranked (21st) Dayton team. Luckily for them, there won’t be another challenging non-conference game on the schedule, unless you count Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
7. WAKE FOREST
Al-Farouq Aminu shows off his “All-ACC” chops, averaging 23/10 per game, hitting on nearly 70% of his shots from the field.
So far, the Canes have been impressive, including a 50-point whipping of Nova Southeast. Who’s Nova Southeast you ask. Don’t ask me, I have no clue.
9. VIRGINIA TECH
They are undefeated, but none of the wins have been overwhelming against weaker opponents, producing only a 12.5 point margin of victory over Brown, UNC-Greensboro and Campbell.
10. BOSTON COLLEGE
After allowing only 5-26 from behind the arch in their first two games, the Eagles gave up 10-21 in a loss to St Joseph’s. Might be something to watch down the road.
11. NC State
The Wolfpack may be undefeated, but they have yet to break 70 points, hitting only 10 total three pointers.
Losing to the South Florida Bulls in football, no shame in that. Losing to them in basketball, that’s not a good sign.
Filed under: Duke basketball
No offense to UNCG, Coastal Carolina, Charlotte and Radford, but the first four games have just been the pre-season for the Duke Blue Devils. Duke has destroyed four cupcakes by a margin of 34.5 points per game, but the final scores should be of no concern to any Devils fan. Instead, we’ve had four games to learn just a little bit about our team, which is what the pre-season is for.
So what have we’ve learned?
I’ve learned that the difference maker for the Devils is Nolan Smith. Heading into the season, we knew what to expect from the duo of Singler and Scheyer, but you can’t win titles with just a dynamic duo. You need a three-headed monster; three stars to have a “Duke style” season. Nolan Smith, in two games, has shown that he might just be that guy.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Gerald Henderson. He’s not going to fly through the sky and take over a game drive after drive after drive. However, he’s actually a better outside shooter than Gerald and can get in the lane well enough, forcing opponents to respect that aspect of his game. He no longer looks like a hesitant kid. He’s taken 27 shots in just two games, hitting 15, averaging 22 per game. He’s a perfect 8-8 from the line, but most impressively, only 10 of his 7 shots have been from three. This is huge. The last thing the Devils needed was for Nolan to just plant himself on the three-point line.
I’ve learned that others will step up. Hear me out…you need a solid core of three stars to be a great team, but to win a championship, you can’t just be a three player team. Duke got lost last year playing 3 on 5 basketball. So far, Miles Plumlee and Andre Dawkins are playing like veterans. Sure they’ve made some mistakes, but they have shown that they are not afraid. They are not afraid to take a shot, they are not afraid to mix it up in the middle (We’ll talk about these two more later).
On top of them, the senior big men, Thomas and Zoubek, are showing their experience. Don’t get me wrong, these two are not going to take over games, they’re never going to get that much props, but Zoubek is starting to play big (at least right now against smaller teams). He’s hitting a solid 65% of his shots from the floor.
Thomas hasn’t been a force on the offensive end (he’s taken only 19 shots total, despite averaging 22+ minutes a game). However, he’s been playing great defense, often switching from centers, to forwards to an opponent’s point guard. Coach K has slowly worked in a rarely seen 3-2 defense, often planting a big man (usually Thomas) up top. As long as Lance continues to play D with his feet and not his hands, he’s going to make life tough for a lot of guards out there.
I’ve learned that John Scheyer couldn’t turn the ball over even if he wanted to. Listen, I’m not going to gush on and on about Scheyer. His limitations are noticeable, but the kid really knows his role and that’s what this team needs in its leader. He’s played a total of 131 minutes in four games and has yet to turn the ball over…not once…at all. Do you realize how amazing that is? You could play EA Sports College Basketball on “freshman” level against the computer, bench all your opponent’s starters and jack up all your AI to 100 and you’d still turn the ball over once a game. Not John Scheyer.
Now granted, he’s not the prototypical point guard. He’s not asked to dribble the ball 90% of the time, find the open man or drive to the lane (where most turnovers occur). His job is to bring the ball up and get Duke’s motion offense off and running. Still, he has a 21/0 assist-to-turnover ratio right now.
I’ve learned that Miles Plumlee can compete in the middle…maybe…probably. Here’s the deal, Plumlee has been rock solid in the paint. He’s nearly averaging a double-double, scoring 11 points per contest, pulling down a solid 9.3 boards a game. His extra muscle is really paying off. I’m not predicting he’s going to be a force to be dealt with in the ACC, but he’s made a great leap forward after a frustrating freshman campaign.
I’ve learned that Andre Dawkins will be one of Duke’s best freshman in a long while . How can I put it, he just looks the part. Time will tell if his shots will continue to fall, but for now, he’s throwing plenty up and enough are going down. He’s taken 33 shots in four games, 26 of which were three pointers, but is shooting 48% from the field, 46% from behind the arch.
The trick for Andre will be when he has a bad game or goes through a bad stretch, how will he respond, how will it effect his confident? So far, I feel like he’ll be fine. Against Coastal Carolina, he came out firing and missed five straight open three’s. Yet he didn’t shy away. He regrouped and nailed four of his last eight. Right now, if I had to compare him to anyone, it wouldn’t be a former Devil, but a former Tar Heels, Wayne Ellington.
I’ve learned that Kyle Singler is ready to be the best player in the ACC. In this league, it will be easy to find a better scorer, a better rebounder, someone with more hop, someone with more strength, someone with more athleticism, but Singler has enough of it ALL, he literally is the complete package. The best part is, we haven’t even seen the best of what he has to offer. It is clear he has been patient, letting his teammates get involved, letting them get their shots now, while playing the weaker opponents.
I’ve learned that an old dog will never learn new tricks. With so many blow outs, I feel like Coach K played Singler and Scheyer too many minutes. This beast of a season is a marathon. We need their legs down the stretch, especially Scheyer, who will play plenty of 36-40 minute games this season. I also would have loved to see Duke in more zone. They certainly showed it and it worked, but this is something completely foreign to this team and something tells me we’re going to see more of it down the stretch. I just felt that Coach kept them in the man-to-man too long during games. Might as well get the kinks worked out of the zone now.
Now, having said all that, everything should be taken with a grain of salt. The schedule was nothing to brag about, but that’s about to change. First up is a trip to MSG for the NIT Preseason Tournament. In the semis, they’ll face a scrappy Arizona State team, followed (hopefully) by a top-10 Connecticut team. Obviously the true test will be against the Huskiers, but Duke cannot overlook the Sun Devils. With James Harden gone, ASU (4-0) looks more balanced, with five players averaging double figures in scoring, while they’re holding their opponents to 52ppg. The player to watch will be center, Eric Boateng. The former Blue Devil is starting for the first time ever and is averaging a solid 11/8 this season as a senior. Don’t tell me he’s not a little motivated facing the Devils.
After the NIT, Duke will travel to face Wisconsin, who should be looking for some payback after having their asses handed to them in Durham two years ago, losing 82-58.This will be Duke’s first “real” road test in a very hostile environment.
Listen, the last four games have been fun. Duke kicked some butt, we had some laughs, we partied like it was 1999, but these next three games over the next week will really tell us what kind of team we have this year.
Filed under: Recruiting | Tags: Duke Blue Devils, Harrison Barnes, Oak Hill Academy, Roscoe Smith
Harrison Barnes is gone. It’s over. It’s time to forget. We here at Big Duke Balls wish him the best, but we hope to crush his soul over the next 2-3 years. Not his actual soul of course, just his basketball soul.
Now though, it’s time for us and the rest of Blue Devil Nation to move on. In fact, the Duke coaching staff has already moved on to the next available stud small forward, Roscoe Smith.
In fact, according to Scout, the Duke coaching staff has been in touch with Smith this past week.
However, unlike year’s past, where Coach K has put all his eggs into one basket, the Duke coaching staff has been on top of Smith for a while now. They offered him a scholarship a while back and have seen him in action a handful of times, including Coach K himself in Las Vegas.
What do you need to know about Mr. Smith?
He’s a 6-7 small forward, who is attending Oak Hill Academy for his senior season. If you’ve followed college basketball for five minutes, you know that Oak Hill is an elite basketball factory that has produced Carmelo Anthony, Michael Beasley, Ty Lawson, Stephen Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Kevin Durant to name a few.
Current Duke starter, Nolan Smith also played at Oak Hill.
According to Scout.com, Roscoe Smith is the 36th best player and the sixth best small forward. According to ESPN, he’s the 16th best 2010 recruit and the 4th best SF. You pick which site you want to believe.
He’s long and athletic and can shoot from anywhere on the court. He has the ability to create his own shot, although he needs to work on heading left. Despite needing to get stronger, he’s an active rebounder.
Here’s what ESPN had to say:
Smith is a smooth jump shooter with three point range and can also knock down one or two dribble pull ups. He has good length and can shoot over smaller defenders with ease. He has a good looking stroke as he spots up in transition deep in the corners or slides to the open area on dribble penetration. He trigger is quick and he has confidence in his jumper.
Smith can get on a roll and hit three or four in row. He uses a good shot fake in order to raise the defender to set up his pull up. He has trouble finishing at the rim at times because of his lack of strength and he must work to improve his scoring moves off the bounce especially going to his left but overall Smith has excellent shooting skill and good upside.
Now can Duke land him? That’s the million-dollar question right now.
Duke returns a solid core of talent next season (Two Plumlee’s, Nolan Smith), one amazing transfer (Seth Curry), while bringing in a great class of freshman (power forward Josh Hairston & two point guards; Thornton and Irving). Irving, the No 2 ranked point guard is the big selling point for Roscoe. Small forwards love playing with elite point guards.
Assuming Singler will be headed to the NBA after his junior season, that leaves one starting spot open for one lucky freshman…I’m talking to you, Roscoe.
Does he/Will he come?
It’s been obvious for a long time that Barnes was Duke’s top target and Smith was the second option. Some might argue that Smith might not want to be someone’s sloppy seconds. Don’t believe it.
A little while back, Smith reduced his list of potential suitors to three; Connecticut, Georgetown and Duke. It should tell you something that Duke was one of the final three, despite the fact Smith was Duke’s second option. You see, Smith has taken official visits to both Connecticut and Georgetown, but he has not taken a official visit to Durham.
Note: He has been to Duke though in an “unofficial” visit.
It is also important that Smith hasn’t signed yet. It’s clear that he was waiting to see where others, especially Barnes would land. This could mean that Duke was his No 1 option and he was just waiting to make sure there was a starting spot waiting for him. I could also be full of sh*t. In all honestly, it’s probably somewhere in the middle.
The kid has been waiting for a reason though and that has to be a good sign. He should now (soon) make an official visit to the Duke campus. This should mean that Coach K will get the last crack at the kid. While on campus, he’s going to get the kitchen sink treatment.
There is no word on when Smith will make his final decision. According to Christopher Lawlor over at ESPN:
Smith thinks he may announce sooner and than later. There’s a remote chance it could come next week .
Landing Smith will make all of Duke nation forget about the name, Harrison Barnes. He may not be as polished as Barnes is, but he has the potential to have an outstanding college career.
With no more recruits, the Blue Devils already have a top-10 class. With Barnes we would have been No 1. With Smith, Duke’s class would easily be top-five, maybe even top three.
Filed under: ACC Basketball, Duke Game, Duke Recap | Tags: Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Greensboro Spartans
A ho-hum, workmanlike victory tonight for the Duke Blue Devils against North Carolina Greensboro. The outcome was never in any doubt, as Duke opened up an early lead and never looked back, winning by 34 when it was all said and done.
Let’s not waste any time and get right into my DIRTY DOZEN.
1. THE THREE HORSEMEN - Last year, Duke’s basic problem was, they kept finding themselves playing three on five. Singler, Scheyer and Henderson were where the points came from. Good teams could exploit this though . Heading into this season the question is, with Henderson gone, would Duke become a two-headed team (Singler & Scheyer)? The answer is…I still don’t know.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying every person in a Duke uniform needs to be a scoring machine, but other people need to be, at the very least, a scoring threat. Unfortunately, the two players I thought that could step in and be those threats didn’t play tonight (Mason Plumlee & Nolan Smith), so this question really couldn’t be answered tonight.
However, what I did see was Singler and Scheyer get the ball rolling early, before getting their teammates involved later. The pair took nine of Duke’s first 14 shots. For the game, they took 25 shots, which was roughly 40% of Duke’s attempts. Of course they probably should have shot more since they were responsible for 60% of the made baskets.
2. TIME TO BE A MAN - Last year was a disappointment for Miles Plumlee. After getting some early playing time, he disappeared in ACC play. This off-season he put on 15 pounds of muscle and it showed on the board. He’s grabbed nine rebounds, hitting 4-10 shots. Last year he looked unsure of where he should be and what his role was. Against UNCG, he looked confident on both ends. Not only did he lead the team in rebounds, he also led in blocks (three), while his 10 field goal attempts tied him for second with Scheyer.
2. BOYZ TO MEN - When it comes to freshman in college basketball these days, there is no time for growing pains. Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins looked good tonight, especially on the offensive end. They combined for 6-11 from the floor. Both looked confident, taking only one shot that I would consider a bad shot.
Dawkins, who is certainly the more important of the two this season, so he will need to cut down on the fouls. He committed four fouls in only 15 minutes on the floor. He is too important. He needs to be available at all times to be in the game.
3. DEFENSE, ZONE OR MAN? – Duke looked decent in the zone. They played roughly 15 in zone and UNCG struggled to hit the long ball or sneak into the paint. However, in the man D, the Devils struggled, particularly early in the second half. Sure we can blame it on the fact they were up 20+ against a weaker opponent, but that excuse can only get them so far. For the game, the Spartans shot 40%, but Duke only forced 14 turnovers. That’s not good enough against a bad UNCG team.
It’s official, at 4:18, Friday the 13th…Harrison Barnes is a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
First, I can’t curse Barnes. He’s a good kid. He’s going to be a great player.
Second, congratulations to Carolina…what else can be said right now?
If it wasn’t clear after their second title in four years that UNC is the premier team right now on Tobacco Road, then it became clear the moment Barnes Skyp’d Coach Roy. I really thought we had him. I really did.
Right now, Roy is our daddy. If someone wants to ask me who my daddy is, it’s Roy Williams. He’s out-coaching us, his teams are out-playing us and it has become clear he has out-recruited us. To me, that’s what is most devastating about this Barnes situation.
Coach K had been after Barnes for nearly two years. He had been on campus a half-a-dozen times, often decked out in Duke gear. We just brought in a top point guard. It didn’t matter. Right now, what Roy wants, Roy gets.
The Tar Heels swept in late, real late. In fact, they were the last school to offer Barnes a scholarship. It didn’t matter. Right now, what Roy wants, Roy gets.
Maybe one day we’ll figure out what the turning point was. Obviously some things are clear. Carolina is the best team in the nation. They have the best coach. They have a fan base that stretches from coast to coast…oh and they have Jordan.
Don’t underestimate that. Michael Jordan is the top sales pitch to any kid who heads to Chapel Hill. This generation of kids who are headed to college right now, idolized Jordan. He is the NBA, whether he’s playing anymore or not.
Unfortunately, Duke and Coach K do not have time to soul search. They still have scholarships that need to be filled in 2010. Right now, top on Duke’s list has to be Roscoe Smith. Currently, Connecticut and Georgetown are the favorites.
This coaching staff does need to figure out what’s wrong. Year after year, Duke just keeps whiffing on their top target. It has happened so much it’s starting to become a tradition.
Filed under: Recruiting | Tags: Duke Blue Devils, Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
You have to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know what school you’re going to declare to, thus shaping the college landscape for the next 2-3 years.
Everyone who has written about the Harrison Barnes recruitment saga has all said the same thing, the man is a poker player. Unlike the Kyrie Irving situation, where it was reported that he committed to Duke the day before his announcement, no one and I mean no one has a clue where No 1 recruit Harrison Barnes is headed.
If basketball doesn’t work out for young Barnes, the World Series of Poker may just be the next logical step.
What we do know is this, we’ll know by the end of the day today (around 4PM on ESPNU).
Barnes is a special player. He can turn an average program and make them elite. As for the elites, he can turn them into championships.
After a long, grueling recruiting process, Harrison has narrowed his choices down to Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma and Iowa State. All six schools have a reason to be optimistic. Each can point to a person, a visit or a quote by Barnes that gives them hope. The kid is that good.
If I had to make an educated guess (which should be ignored), this is how I’d rank the teams.
No 1) DUKE…I’ll explain below.
No 2) NORTH CAROLINA…the kid idolizes MJ, who he met when he visited Chapel Hill. That had to have some kind of impact.
No 3) UCLA…the kid wants championships. The Bruins could finally get over that hump with Barnes.
No 4) IOWA STATE…his mom works at the school.
No 5) KANSAS…Word is, Coach Self won’t be watching at 4PM. Tells me all I need to know.
No 5) OKLAHOMA…you never know, but I doubt it.
In reality, here’s the deal for Duke. The Devils have been on top of Barnes for over two years. Word is, the kid adores Coach K. Not only has he made every official visit to Durham, he’s also made at least three non-official trips to Duke. That is not common for a kid to make that many unofficial visits. During each visit, the kid has been decked out in full Devil gear. Again, this all means nothing, but it’s a positive sign.
The question is, how important is this kid to Duke? In chat rooms and on message boards, I’ve seen the kid called a “savior.” This is a little much. Duke averages 25 wins a season, has won seven of the last 10 ACC titles, the team doesn’t need to be saved.
Duke has a solid top-1o class coming in next year, along with transfer, Curry. Duke basketball will keep winning with or without Barnes.
Having said that, if you add in Barnes to that recruitment class and assume he’ll be here for at least two seasons, maybe three, Duke would be one of the favorites to win it all over that stretch.
In the end though, this is really about Coach K vs. Roy Williams. That’s ALL this is really about. After years of abuse by the Devils, Williams and UNC are now the top dogs again. They’ve won two titles over the last four years, they’ve won four straight in Cameron and they’re winning the recruiting wars.
Oddly enough, even though Duke and UNC are only eight miles apart and both compete for national titles, they have not gone head-to-head too often in recruiting. The last player Coach K and Coach Williams both went after was Brandon Wright. Roy won that one, although Wright was a one-and-done.
Overall though, Williams has certainly won the recruitment war since his return to UNC (Just read the story of two white guys).
Like I already pointed out, Coach K has gone after Barnes hard for two years. Roy Williams jumped on the bandwagon late, but he’s been aggressive going after Barnes lately. Hell, both coaches visited Barnes on the same day at his home. When does that happen?
For Carolina to lose Barnes to Duke, it wouldn’t be a big deal. They’re the ones on top, they already have a solid 2010 class and again, they came late to the Barnes party.
For Duke to lose Barnes to UNC though, that would be like if I was chasing after the hottest girl in the neighborhood for two years and right when I think I got her falling in love with me, my neighbor, who just got done banging two other hot chicks, swoops in, flashes some jewelry (Jordan), asks her out and suddenly they’re dog face down in the backseat of his Camaro.
We simply can’t have Roy Williams swoop in and steal Coach K’s new girlfriend.