Since the National Championship game, I said Kyle Singler would turn pro. I repeated it over and over again. Not only did I predict he would go, I said he should go. Yet here we are again, me…wrong.
You’d think I’d get tired of being wrong so often, but I’m not. Especially when being wrong means that my favorite college basketball team will be the favorites to repeat as champions.
As you’ve already figure out (or heard), Kyle Singler is returning for his senior season.
I have no idea if the decision was a right one or a wrong one. We won’t know that until next year’s draft. I can appreciate the kid for taking his time though, watching the basketball landscape, doing his research and making his decision.
With so many players heading to the pros, my guess is Singler was slipping down the draft boards. He would have more than likely stayed in the first-round, but it would have been late.
SO WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR DUKE?
Obviously I’m going to let the news settle in and I’ll do a more detail review of next year’s Blue Devils later, but clearly Duke is the No 1 team heading into the 2010-2011 season, which is only odd because the team is losing three very important starters.
How many teams can win the championship, lose three senior starters and walk back into the next season as favorites? That’s the modern day landscape of college basketball in a nutshell.
Think about this though, there is a good reason why only two teams in the past 30 years have repeated and the trick to those teams was the fact that they both basically had their entire starting lineup back the following year.
Of course, let’s not pretend Duke is walking away with the title next year. It’s not like they were the most dominating team this past year. Also, along with adding three new starters, the coaches will need to fit three new players (coming off the bench) into the rotation. The challenge for this team will be to find chemistry. Not everyone can be a superstar? Who’s going to step up and do the dirty work?
Having said all that, while next year’s Duke team will lose experience and leadership, they’ll be gaining the one thing Duke fans have been craving for…athleticism. The fact is, Kyle Singler will probably be the least “athletic” player in the regular rotation. That’s saying something. (more…)
First of all, I could never be Kyle Singler. If you’ve ever seen my jump shot, you’d know what I’m talking about. I also could never imagine being in his shoes right now, forced to make a life-changing decision…to go or not to go?
Having said that, I’m certainly going to try to be Kyle Singler…for at least one post.
Would I go pro or would I come back for one more year of college?
For me, the answer is…I’d go, although I wouldn’t say it is an easy answer.
First, I’ve accomplished what I’ve wanted to accomplish in college. I won a national championship. I did it playing my best ball, winning MVP of the Final Four. I went head-to-head against other pro prospects (West Virginia’s Butler and Butler’s Hayward) and I was the better player on the court each time.
Sure I could get better as a player with another year of college. Just look how I did this past year. I struggled early at a new position, but by the end of the season, I was one of the most productive players in the nation. I earned All-ACC First team.
However, even if I improve my ball-handling skills some and get my three-pt shooting above 40%, the one big strike against me, my athleticism, will still be a concern next year. As great as Coach Kryzewski is, he’s never going to make me run faster or jump higher. What’s the old saying, “you can’t teach speed?” It’s true.
If I turned pro this year (which seems to be the popular thing to do), I’m projected to go anywhere between 17-30. Of course there is a big difference it terms of cash betwen #17 and #30. At #17, I’m going to average about 1.2-million over three years. If I’m #30, I’m looking at just under 900k per season.
In reality though, I would be shocked if I fell into the 20′s, which would land me about 1.1-million per for three years. More importantly, that’s just one more year less before I can become a free agent. (more…)
Filed under: Duke basketball, Duke Player | Tags: Brian Zoubek, Duke, John Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Seniors
With the Final Four just days away, it finally hit me that for Duke’s seniors, this was it. , by this time next week, we would never see John Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek in a Duke uniform again.
After 28 years of watching Duke basketball, you’d think I’d be use to it. I’ve seen hundreds of kids come and go, but for this group of seniors, its been a long four years…that’s felt more like eight. It’s almost hard to remember what a Duke team looks like without Scheyer, Thomas and Zoubek.
In the end, I obviously want these guys cutting down the nets Monday night, but you know what? Whether they bring home the title or not, I just want to take this moment to say thanks to them personally.
Why? First, because I’m a nice guy. Just ask my mother. But second, when you think about it, so much has been asked from these guys and they’ve always done it. As freshman, they were thrown into the fire, asked to keep our dynasty afloat. We’ve asked them all to check their egos and take seats on the bench at some point or another. We’ve asked Zoubek to play through pain and we’ve asked Thomas and Scheyer to play out of position. We’ve asked a lot and they’ve always come through.
The big fella. What a crazy four years it has been. I remember that freshman year clearly. For moments, it looked like you had never touched a basketball in your life. I always joked, Brian Zoubek got called for traveling checking into the game. You had zero offensive moves, you looked stiff on defense and in the time I wrote this sentence, you got called for traveling three more times.
It was a rough freshman season. Yet you didn’t run. You didn’t hide away and transfer like previous Duke big men who were unhappy with playing time.
You stuck around and over the next two years, you spent more time struggling with injuries than grabbing rebounds. Any Duke fan could see the mind was there. You were learning the game, you knew what needed to be done, but the body wasn’t capable of playing along.
With a nagging foot injury, you had the hop of a paraplegic frog, struggling to get off the floor. Your offensive moves looked to be in slow motion. Frustrated, you would often find yourself in foul trouble and back on the pine. I’ll be honest, I began to lose hope. I never thought you’d be completely healthy and I assumed you would never be more than a couple of rebounds and a couple of fouls off the bench.
Yet in your final season, you finally walked onto the court healthy. Despite not starting, you came off the bench and grabbed more boards per minute than anyone else. Eventually, when things look bad for Duke, Coach K made his signature late season change. That change was inserting you into the starting lineup for good.
Everyone knows the stats, there is no reason to go through them again here (actually I’m just too lazy to look then up). After three and a half seasons of struggles, you finally looked like the biggest guy on the court. The travel calls were long gone. Sure you weren’t Kareem, but a hook shot from time to time brought me to my feet.
Most importantly though, it was the rebounding. With your height and size, there was no reason why you couldn’t dominate the glass. Of course there was a reason, that nagging foot injury. But when that foot healed, you become the ‘X’ factor in this Duke team. The Big Three became the Bigger Four and suddenly opposing coaches were asking, “how the hell am I going to stop Zoubek?”
No matter what happens tomorrow, you’ll leave Duke knowing that you were on a Final Four team. You’ll also know that without you, this team doesn’t make it to the Final Four. (more…)
After another rough shooting night (5-16 from the floor) against Tulas, everyone is starting to ask…is Jon Scheyer, after playing nearly 37 minutes per game, starting to get tired?
It’s a fair question, especially when you look at his shooting percentage over his last five games.
Overall, he’s just 25-82 from the floor (that’s 30% for those of you without a calculator). That’s unacceptable and the fact is, an un-bias person (that’s not me) would probably have to move Maryland’s Javier Grievis ahead of Scheyer for ACC player of the year honors (although next week’s game between Maryland & Duke will probably decide that).
So is he tiring out? Are those legs starting to give out after 37+ minutes per game? I’m going to go out on a limb and say, NO. Don’t sweat me, I got the stats to prove it.
When the legs go, the jumper is the first to go with it. For Scheyer, jumper mean three’s. Yet, that hasn’t really been that much of a problem.
Over the last five games, he’s shooting 17-39 from three-point range. That’s a solid 44%. The problem Jon’s having is inside the arc…from two-point land, he’s only 8-43. That’s a horrid 19% and let’s just be honest, that sucks.
Scheyer’s problem hasn’t been tired legs, the issue is simple, he’s taking bad shots inside the paint. Too often Scheyer has drove the ball way too deep inside, got caught among the trees and thrown up a ton of bad shots/lay ups. That’s it. Instead of shooting smart like a senior, he’s shooting dump like a sophomore.
Now early in the season, Scheyer was able to get a lot of fouls called his way, but for whatever reason, those calls have dried up.
In fact, he has failed to take more than five free throws in seven of his last 13 games. In the ten games prior to that, he took 6+ free throw attempts in eight of ten games. Against Tulsa, he took only two free throws. For a guy who hits nearly 90% of his free throws, this is also unacceptable.
Now, depsite the shooting issues, Scheyer is still playing solid ball. He’s getting his teammates involved, he’s not turning the ball over much (he still leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio) and his D is getting it done.
However, if Scheyer wants to break this mini-slump, he will need to start shooting smarter. Our suggestion, do what Nolan Smith does. Pull up. Scheyer is usually bigger than his defender, so pull up at the free throw line and drain a mid-range shot.
There’s no better way to cure a shooting slump.
This past Wednesday, the Duke student newspaper suggested that Coach K should actually bench Kyle Singler. It’s easy to quickly jump out and condemn the student writer, Joe Drews, but we here at Big Duke Balls are a cool bunch. We don’t like to jump the gun. Let’s take a look at some of the points Mr. Drew makes.
Pegged as a preseason All-American, the junior forward has seen his numbers drop across the board, including field goal percentage (41.0 percent), 3-point percentage (34.7 percent), points (15.4 per game) and rebounds (6.9 per game). It may be due to his move to the perimeter, the increased expectations coming into the season or the pressure of a possible NBA career next year. Or none of those. Honestly, I have no idea. But I think it’s time to consider the once-unthinkable. It’s time to bench Kyle Singler.
First, the numbers don’t lie. Singler is struggling. He was expected to compete for ACC player of the year, but instead, is only the third best player on this year’s squad (behind Scheyer and Smith). He missed two HUGE three’s with under 90 seconds left in Duke’s loss to Georgia Tech. Quite simply, Singler has not looked comfortable and he’s missed some easy/open shots this season.
But benching? First reaction, it’s a joke. You can’t bench Singler. Who are you going to put in? It can’t be Dawkins. The only person colder than Singler is Dawkins. Besides, Andre is the only guard coming off then bench. It wouldn’t be wise going three-guard.
What about Mason Plumlee? He certainly has the skill set to play small forward, but two things. Duke’s big men have struggled to stay out of foul trouble, so Mason’s minutes are needed down low. Second, Plumlee is still struggling on the defensive end. Could you imagine what a quicker small forward would do to him? It would be brutal and it would be a terrible fit.
Of course, Drew wasn’t really suggesting benching Singler for the season or even for a long period time.
Now, I’m not suggesting he sit out the next several contests, nor am I saying he should come off the bench for the remainder of the season. And this isn’t punishment for a poor performance against Georgia Tech—if that were the case, Singler would be joined on the bench by everyone but Scheyer and Mason Plumlee.
He goes on to say:
He (Singler) needs to see that his teammates are fine without him. (Obviously, this plan is contingent on his teammates actually being OK without him, but they should be).
Okay, fair point if you believe the problem is that Singler is forcing things because he sees himself as the No 1 option and is simply pressing to live up to the preseason labels. Also, while Coach K can be a dick about this if he so choices, let’s not forget, Coach K has often benched starters for one game either as punishment or to make a point, including some of the greats. In fact, I believe he had Singler (and the entire starting lineup) come off the bench against UNC-Asheville last year.
Having said that, he’s certainly never benched a player this late in the season, especially during ACC play. He’ll usually make “his point” against weaker opponents before the New Year.
So do I think Joe Drew has a point? Yes, I do…but in the end I think he’s wrong. Shall I explain? You’ve read this much, haven’t you. (more…)
Most of the time I’m dead wrong about most things, but every once in a while, I’m right on.
Just two weeks ago I had this to say about Olek Czyz;
Random question of the Day: Why did we give a scholarship to Olek Czyz? While he started in place of Nolan Smith for the first two games, he hasn’t sniffed the court in Duke’s last four and it appears he won’t again this season, unless it’s mop up duty in blowouts. It’s a question I asked back when he first received the offer and I still haven’t figured out the answer.
It’s one thing to have a player not work out, but this is Duke. When did Duke starts wasting scholarships on a kid who will never start and will be lucky to ever be in the regular rotation? That’s what walk-ons are for. I don’t want to tear the kid down, if anything, I’m questioning the coaching staff? Again, we’re Duke, coached by Coach K, three-time National Champion. I just don’t see the reasoning. Sorry.
Well, it appears Czyz agreed. Word is Olek is going to transfer ASAP.
In all honest, it’s best for both Olek and for Duke basketball. I’m sorry, but he was never going to be a productive member of the Blue Devils.
Word is, Coack K will release Czyz outright from his scholarship. This will allow him to play for whatever school he goes to without sitting out a full year.
This is a cool move by Duke. It was the same decision they made with Elliot Williams and that worked out well for him.
We wish Olek the best.
Having said that, Czyz will be the fifth player to transfer from the Devils over the last five years and this leaves Miles Plumlee as the only member of the 2008 class to still be on Duke. Of all this transfers, except for Williams, who tranferred for personal reasons (his desire to be near his sick mother), the rest were all ‘big men’ who transferred because they were not satisfied with their playing time.
Transfers happen, but this is becoming a trend and the coaching staff needs to improve on this.
Why are wasting so much time and energy recruiting guys who don’t fit into our program? Are the coaches promising something and not delivering?
If you got an answer, I’d love to hear it.
Awful news today. Andre Dawkins’ sister, Lacey Dawkins (21) was killed in a car accident over the weekend.
Reports are sketchy at best (nothing on the big news sites as of yet), but it appears she was riding in a car with four other people, including Dawkins’ mother, who was hurt in the crash. We do not know how badly at this point.
As someone who has never lost a sibling, I can’t fanthom what this kid is going through. My heart goes out to him.
Pro Football Talk is reporting that former Duke point guard, Greg Paulus has worked out for the Green Bay Packers.
I know Greg was a football star in high school and could have played at Notre Dame, but was he really so good that he could basically take four years off and suddenly land on an NFL roster? It’s not like Paulus has a Tim Tebow build. He’s 6’1, about a buck-eighty. He’s Pat White without speed. I figured Paulus would be roaming a sideline somewhere as an assistant basketball coach.
As best as I can tell, the Packers already have Aaron Rogers, LSU’s Matt Flynn, Louisville’s Brian Brohm. I just can’t see Paulus betting out any of these guys for a third-string job.
Word on the street says that Duke forward, Gerald Henderson, is leaving college for the NBA…and he will be signing with an agent?
Gerald Henderson is also expected to announce he’s leaving college shortly, and is expected to hire an agent with strong ties to Duke.
WTF? I get the declaring yourself eligible for the NBA, but why sign with an agent? Any reasonable junior would declare so they can go workout with NBA scouts in Chicago. There he can be evaluate by the brightest minds in the NBA (much like Ellington, Green and Lawson did last year). Afterwards is when you make that final decision whether to return or not. If you decide not to, then you hire an agent.
This rumor doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s is no harm in not hiring an agent now. However, as soon as he hires one, his college career is over, whether he bombs during the workouts or not.
We’ve said it before, we think Henderson is going to be a solid pro (assuming he remains healthy), but he needs more work. He still struggles to drive to his left, especially against real athletes and he doesn’t have NBA (three-point) range yet, which he’ll need since he’s only 6’4 and will be asked to play shooting guard.