Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
2/14/2007 03:11:00 PM
Coach K has not been happy with Duke's performance on the defensive end as of late.
The buzzards are circling over Boston College's Conte Forum, where tonight the Eagles face a reeling Duke team that's on the verge of the first five-game losing streak of Mike Krzyzewski's career. The Blue Devils have not yet played their way out of the NCAA tournament (it would take at least three, if not four, more ACC losses to make that a lock because their non-conference schedule was so strong), but what's affecting the House of K is more than a random slump. Today's blog takes a look at what, exactly, is wrong with Duke.
• For an elite team to stay successful after losing nearly its entire identity from the year before -- as Duke did, with J.J. Redick, Shelden Williams, Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni leaving -- it needs to have a transcendent underclassman ready to take over. This happened at rival North Carolina in 2005-06, when beastly freshman Tyler Hansbrough carried the Heels to a second-place finish in the ACC after they lost their top six players, including four first-round NBA Draft picks. It's happening at Texas this year, with super-frosh Kevin Durant as the focal point after the 'Horns lost their entire starting five, including three to the NBA. It hasn't happened at UConn, which delivered four first-rounders to the draft, never found a new star for '06-07 and is likely to miss the NCAA tournament as a result.
It also hasn't happened at Duke. Coach K has one of the best stockpiles of young talent in the nation -- six McDonald's All-Americans, to be exact -- but no transcendent player capable of carrying the Blue Devils out of this funk. Sophomore forward Josh McRoberts is the closest candidate, but he hasn't been consistently dominant; he's an incredibly gifted passing big man … with no one else in the post to pass the ball to. Duke's freshman class, which ranked fourth in Scout.com's 2006 rankings, is strong enough to be the nucleus of an ACC title team in two or three years -- and that may be K's design -- but there isn't a Hansbrough, Durant, Greg Oden, or even Tywon Lawson among them. Thus '06-07 has become a somewhat rough, transitional season.
• Duke ranks 10th in the ACC in offensive efficiency, partly because it struggles to shoot 3s, but mainly because it isn't getting enough production out of the point guard position. There has been debate over whether criticism of Greg Paulus is unjust, so let's simply examine his stats -- in offensive efficiency, assist rate and turnover rate -- against the rest of the league's point guards. The final column is the difference between the assist and turnover rate:
What it reveals is that Paulus is the fourth-worst point guard in the ACC in offensive efficiency, only behind Wake Forest's Ish Smith, Virginia Tech's Jamon Gordon and Clemson's Vernon Hamilton -- and the worst point guard, by far, in terms of assist versus turnover rate. Paulus turns the ball over at a 4.8 percent higher rate than he creates baskets for teammates. He definitely hasn't made the kind of jump that Duke needed him to make between his freshman and sophomore seasons.
• Duke's slide is also a case of unfortunate timing. The transition between the Redick/Williams empire and the youth movement of McRoberts, Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson couldn't have come at a worse time. The ACC is not as strong at the top as it was in '04-05, when it had legit Final Four contenders in UNC (the national champs), Wake (with Chris Paul), N.C. State (with Julius Hodge), Georgia Tech (with Jarrett Jack) and the Blue Devils. But this year the league has become absurdly deep, with its top 10 teams -- everyone down to 3-7 N.C. State, which upset UNC on Feb. 3 -- all capable of beating one another. Once-average squads such as Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson are as dangerous as they've been in years … and they're all looking to take advantage of a vulnerable Duke team.
• The Blue Devils are capable of being a great defensive team -- they still rank second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, at .816 points per possession -- it's just that, over the course of this losing streak, their defensive toughness has disappeared. And as Coach K said this week, "The two most important things for our team is how we play defense and how we care for the ball, because we are not going to just outscore you. That hasn't been the M.O. of this team and won't be the M.O. of this team until the end of the year."
Early in the season, Duke was a defensive juggernaut: It held Indiana to a stingy .798 points per possession in a win on Nov. 28, and Georgetown to .873 on Dec. 2. Yet in their past four losses, the Blue Devils have given up more than one point per possession, and allowed FSU, UNC and Maryland to shoot with effective field goal percentages (a stat that adds extra weight to 3s) of over 50 percent. A hallmark of Duke's best teams has been their ability to defend on the perimeter, and the '06-07 team has been substandard in that deparment during ACC play. Coach K has accepted that the Blue Devils must overcome an anemic offense with strong D -- and until that happens, the streak will only get worse.
Well said Luke. I think you have missed one point though, and that is this team doesn't have that 'eye of the tiger' mentality of teams past. They have had several chances during their losses this year to change the tide of the game, but seemingly have lapsed in concentration or toughness at the crucial moment. This is in distinction to last year's team who was mentally tough, although perhaps vulnerable to a JJ Redick off night.
I think Luke makes a good point about Duke having only one functional big guy. However, one other problem I see is that McRoberts has not really developed a back to the basket game. A lot of Duke's past success has come with solid scoring threats in the post and McRoberts inability to score as a post up player is disappointing for a player of his caliber. McRoberts is a great passer, but so many of his assists come from the top of the key not the block. I also think the all PG coaching staff at Duke could use a former big guy to help develop Zoubek and McRoberts offensively. It is one thing to have guys come in during the offseason to work with players it is another to have an experienced big guy on the bench to encourage McRoberts to stcik with his post game.
It's time. First there was BC toppling No. 1 ND in '93 (football)...then ultimate whitey Billy Curly taking down No. 1 UNC in the '94 tourney...a slew of other bigs wins in between...now the BC Eagles will finally beat Duke...leaving only those punks at the U as the nemesis...but hey...there's another Flutie there now to take care of them!
Ouch, sounds like someone is a bitter Carolina fan in that earlier response...
Definitely agree with you on the eye of the tiger thing Luke. There seems to be real lack of toughness and focus at points when they should be able to take control of the game. I also worry that no one really has the leadership skills to bring these guys together, and there seems to be a real lack of a 'killer instinct' among them.
To the moron that criticized Redick and Williams. Hey bud - they made the final four in 2004. Also, this team wins with defence, they aren't going to win with scoring. Do you even watch the games? What a moron.
Why don't people just accept that this Duke team isn't very good rather than make excuses for them? McRoberts is the only above-average player right now. Scheyer is still too young and Paulus is far too emotional during games to get stuff done. This team just isn't any good!
The problem is that Duke has become "Transfer University" over the past five years. Coach K refuses to give playing time to his bench players, leaving them to rot instead of improve. There is no big man to play with McRoberts because, gasp!--they all transfered! You mention the class of 2006 being a stable nucleus...what about the class of 2005 which was SUPPOSED to be the nucleus, except now a year and a half later it seems that only Greg Paulus and Martynas who? will be the only players left next season. Could Michael Thompson have been the deciding factor in the 2004 UConn game? Probably, given Okafor went off after all the other big men fouled out. What about having Randolph as a viable option last year? What's the point of having Mickey D's if you aren't going to play them? Duke is hurt just as much by transfers as it is by early entry to the league.
The Redick/Williams "empire" did make the Final Four - in 2004, their sophomore year. They lost to UConn in that thriller of a game, and in retrospect, ended up being the National Championship, just a round early.
they did make the final four. as well, they won 3 acc championships, had 3 #1 seeds in the tournament, were ranked #1 at some point in all 4 seasons, were 49-15 in the acc, and averaged 29 wins per season, more than any team in the country over that same period.
redick and williams combined for 2 acc POYs, 2 acc tourney MVPs, 2 national POYs, 3 first team all americas, and 2 national defensive POYs. they also set new duke records in points, rebounds, and blocks, acc records in points, free throw shooting, 3 point shooting, and acc tournament scoring, and an ncaa record in 3 point shooting. how do you define "empire"?
a national title would have been nice, but i think the above outweighs not stringing together a 6-game winning streak at the right time.
I also wish Redick and Williams should have made a Final Four. All Duke fans were so upset that they never made it that we've somehow managed to invent in our heads that they went to the 2004 Final Four. And after imagining that, we managed to convince everyone else who researches their comments to believe it too.
Congrats Luke. You are just another of the thousands from the East Coast biased ESPN slag that finally realized that the ACC is just now beginning to be more competitive across the board allowing for bottom feeders to beat the usual powers. Welcome to the Pac-10 !!!
And now you realize why there are so many Duke haters out there. For many years, theyve played in an inferior conference, just beating up on crappy ACC teams and using the momentum for a tourney run.
part of the problem is that as much as people want to applaud Duke for great team D, the truth is that their guards can't guard one v one off the dribble...teams can dribble drive and penetrate all day long on paulus...anyone ever notice that he plays straight up? any standard crossover could free yourself up against paulus
I'm honestly not surprised that Duke has lost 4 in a row. In fact I'm incredibly surprised (and disgusted) that they were ever number 8 in the country. It's as if the people ranking teams don't actually watch teams play. They just look at records and name and assign a rank.
I also don't really like the argument that "Duke's out of conference schedule was so good." First of all, all of Duke's wins were at home or on neutral courts. They play no true road games. How can you believe a team is good when it doesn't leave it's comfort zone? You can't. Second, they caught Indiana and Georgetown early in the season before DJ white had worked himself back in, and before the young GTown guards had really learned how to run the offense. Duke was not dominant in either one of those games. Do you think that on a neutral court Duke could beat either Indiana or GTown today? No way. Too much emphasis by the writers is put on what a team did in the pre-conference schedule when teams are figuring themselves out. Especially when none of those games was on the road.
Coach K is a great coach, but he just doesn't have the players this year to be an elite team. McDonald's All Americans does not a great team make. One of the worst compliments you can pay some one is that he has "great potential". By saying that you are implying that someone is underachieving. McRoberts disappears for large chunks of a game and does not play physical defense. Great passing big Man? Sure he is. But he gets that monocre because he is so timid with the ball he is always looking to pass. What McDonald's all american who was supposed to go to the NBA wants to get the complement that he is a "great passing big man"? Greg Paulus is terrible at best. Just part of the Duke hype machine. He makes terrible decisions and does not run the offense well at all. Duke is better with him on the bench and Coach K needs to recognize this. Henderson and Scheyer are solid players and will be very good in a couple of years. But this just isn't Duke's year because they just don't have the players.
Buddy, Duke did make the Final Four back in '04. What Luke said is completely true - there is no better conference in the country than the ACC. The PAC-10, SEC, Big-10 and 12 are completely subpar to the ACC. However, contrary to Luke, I believe that the majority of our problems arise from Paulus's ineptness and McRoberts's inability to take over a game. How can the previous number-one high school player in the country not work well under pressure? It's beyond me.
Very solid analysis, Luke. Paulus's assist numbers are a little artificially deflated because, unlike most other teams, because of McRoberts's passing acumen, the offense runs through him a bit more -- that said, it is apparent that Paulus at the point is a problem for Duke. And he doesn't make it up on the defensive end like a Tommy Amaker or a Wojciechowski did.
5:03 -- I agree "Redick/Williams empire" might be a bit overblown, but check your facts -- they DID make a Final Four their sophomore year, losing by 1 to eventual champion UConn (both started and struggled mightily). The team was 116-23 while they were there and won 2 regular-season ACC titles and 3 ACC Tournaments. Maybe not an "empire," but not too shabby.
What goes around comes around. When Redick and Williams were freshmen they "only" got a 3 seed, in the West, even. But they managed to earn a 1 seed every other year. I'm a Duke hater, but let's face it, we are all happier when Duke is worth hating. And I'm sure in a couple years that they'll be right back at the top of my hate-o-meter.
Oh by the way (since everyone else has said it, I can't resist): Duke went to a final four in 2004 with Redick and Williams, when Luol Deng was there.
After watching Duke in their first game this season, I was absolutely aghast at how un-athletic they were. I remarked to my husband and son that Duke could lose 10 games this season.....in the ACC. I may not be far off with that prediction. What was Coach K thinking the past 3-4 recruiting years? He has virtually no athletes on this team except Henderson and maybe Nelson. The Dookies just aren't any good.
The issue is that Coach K has depended over the years on the efficiency of the three point shot. Duke has rarely had a dependable inside game--even Sheldon Williams depended on offeensive rebounds and other junk baskets for most of his points until the very end of his career. Other than Sheyer in the first half of the UNC game, there has not been a recent game in which I had any confidence that a trey would go in. If they can't go inside and can't hit threes they can't beat a good team
For the record, as good as he was in the regular season, J.J. Redick was the WORST tournament player I have ever seen, given all his hype. Just check out his shooting percentage in their losses to Kansas (his freshman year), UCONN (sophmore year, Final Four), Michigan State (junior year) and last year versus LSU. The guy blew in a big spot!!
I've watch pretty much all of Duke's game this season and the devloping trend that I am seeing is that more and more teams are choosing NOT to double up on McBooby. McBooby is probably the best passing big man in college ball. But for his passing skills to be used to the fullest, McBooby has to command the double team. Until he starts consistently beating his man one on one, Duke is in trouble. But once that double team comes over, McBooby is savvy enough to find his spot shooters in Scheyer and D-Nelson (two guys who are struggling to create their own shot). Even if the ball is kicked back out to Paulus, he is a good enough point guard at that point to find the open man.
McBooby HAS to start taking over games, get down in the paint and bang around. Otherwise, your half court offense will remain stagnant and very uncomfortable to watch.
I have to agree with whoever said that Duke's problems come from all the transfers. The class of 2005....Eric Boateng and Jamaal Boykin transferred......why? Because they didnt get enough playing time the previous year and they weren't going to get any the next. Boateng and Boykin were two solid players. I watched them both play summer scrimmages and both of them stood out becuase of their intensity. Now I am not an expert or anything but earlier people were talking about Duke's lack of intensity. Duke lacks intensity because two of their most hard nose players transferred. Imagine if Boateng and Boykin were still at Duke. Boateng would play along with McRoberts and Zoubek. McRoberts cant do everything by himself and neither can Paulus. Henderson and Nelson are the only true "athletes" on the team. Im a big Duke fan but Im hoping Coach K plays more of the bench. Look at this past UNC game....we played 8 guys...overall! 8 guys who played over a minute! UNC on the other hand had 12 guys play at least 4 minutes. Now Duke may not have a bench like UNC ( it hurts to say that as a Duke fan...but its true ) but these bench guys need to be on the court more....keeps starters out of foul trouble....keeps everyone fresh and playing with INTENSITY. Why do you think players keep transferring. Because they dont play.
It's unfortunate that Redick and Williams never made the Final Four, because they would have otherwise had team success to compliment their individual achievements. As it stands now, the Redick and Williams empire resembles the current Duke team: completely hyped up without a shred of credibility. It doesn't look good for the current Duke team if they think they can do better than Redick and Williams and actually reach one Final Four.
Paulus simply isn't as good as they've needed him to be. Duke has a nice team but this year, so does the rest of the ACC. Tech, Virginia, Florida St., ect... It's a deep league. Don't forget that two of their last four losses were heartbreakers. Virginia won on a prayer and Duke let the other one slip too. It's not like they're getting blown out. Listen , I'm a Carolina fan but I wouldn't count Duke out just yet.
First off, thanks to the gentlemen who stole my thunder on Duke's non-conference schedule not being strong. The didn't play a true non-conference road game (if I remember correctly) they got rolled by guard-heavy Marquette on a neutral court and beat a host of average mid-major teams at home. Georgetown and IU were solid, if unspectacular wins.
The problem with Duke is the same problem they have every year - they are unathletic. Not to turn this into a race issue (for what it's worth I am white) but Duke continue's to recruit these slow white guys with no athletic ability (Schyer, Redick, Paulus, Dunleavy, Randolph, Melchionni, Wojo just to name a few) and when they run into a team with athletic guys (LSU last year, MSU the year before, Kansas in 03, so on and so forth). Coach K has no idea how to coach "athletes" which is why guys like Corey Maggette and Loul Deng leave early.
If Deng would have stayed and Shaun Livingston would have come to school, they both would be starting and Krzyzewski would have dumbed down their gifts to fit his system. DeMarcus Nelson is the all-time leading scorer in California high school history, yet he can never seem to get going. Why? Becauase it's all about the system. And this is not a system conducive to athletes.
My point? For Duke to be successful (defined as Final 4s and National Championships), K has to start taking chances on more athletic guys and giving them some free reign to exercise their gifts. Two times he has done this - Jason Williams (National Title) and Grant Hill (3 Final Fours) - have paid off. Why he doesn't do it again is beyond me.
The problem with Duke is no athletes. Constantly beat off of the dribble. And thats why they never won a title with Reddick and Sheldon. No athletes. No one to break defense down. Too many tough shots.
how many people want to correct the poor guy near the top to tell him they made the final 4 in 2004?, I think we get it, and Redick and Williams were a good duo. I went to UNC and hated them with a passion, so of course they were good.
One of the problems is that McRoberts isn't the usual Duke big man. I think someone said earlier that he doesn't have a "back to the basket" game, and they're right. Former big men at Duke who have done well have been big guys that can push you around like Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Sheldon Williams. People like Shavlik Randolph, who had a lot of skill coming out of high school, realized that their type of game wasn't going to fit in the Duke style, so he left, which is what McRoberts needs to do if he wants to have a career in the NBA. Otherwise he's going to be forced to put on weight by the coaching staff and then have to lose it once he leaves, like Elton Brand did to improve his game at that level. So its not really that they have only one, its that their only one isn't the normal type.
Oh, and no one can really shoot like Redick, Langdon, Williams yet. (Scheyer will be a pain in out butt for a few years, I can see it already).
Who cares if they made the final four in 2004. They didn't win. Tell Coach K his days of not having an Oreo Squad is over. Duke is too white and you have no athletes. So stop crying you should have saw this coming a long time ago. The ACC is better and the sliver of a slipper that you had is off. Don't worry Dick Vitale will continue to sell the Duke wolf tickets on national TV so you will get a tournament bid.
I love Duke; I'm 28 and been following them as long as I could remember so it's hard for me to bash a Duke player but there's something about Greg Paulus that I don't care for. Maybe it's because of the fact that he came in with a lot of fanfare and I guess they thought if he focused strictly on basketball over football he would improve immensely. And that hasn't been the case. He'll be alright by the time he gets to his senior year but as of now he's not the player who I thought he would be at this stage in his career. However, the blame does not solely rest on Greg; I think it's obvious as it was mentioned in your column, Josh McRoberts is not the fearless player a lot of people thought he would be after Sheldon and JJ left.
6:46 -- Just because players are white doesn't mean they're not "athletic." McRoberts is a ridiculous athlete -- he jumps, dribbles and passes extraordinarily well for a 6'10 guy. And Greg Paulus might not be the quickest PG around, but he was a freaking all-American QB. Duke's problem isn't a lack of "athleticism" -- it's a lack of being able to finish games down the stretch. They almost blew another one tonight at BC.
1) Coach K isn't being Coach K For being such a great coach, he's making some grave errors in judgment. There is a lot of talk about the lack of Duke depth, but they have 6 McDonald's All-Americans, and 4 other guys who could get regular PT on most other teams. Martynus Pocius, for one, could be an offensive threat, given regular PT. And if they had played their 9-10 players against UNC, they'd have been fresher at the end of the game to finish it off. The first 2/3 of that game was the best I saw Duke play all year, but then they backed off, got tired and let it slip away.
And this trend of calling off the dogs when his team has the lead to milk clock, playing "not to lose" is not the Duke way, and it's been the reason for several losses, and several too close wins.
2) Lack of the floor slapping killer instinct The floor slap is now a bit passe, but it wasn't the mere act of slapping the floor, but what it stood for; intensity on both sides of the ball. That's missing this year.
3) Lack of athletes They have 3 or 4 true athletes, and 2 of them rarely play (Henderson and Thomas). Paulus is a good PG, despite the numbers. He has GREAT vision, but his issue is athleticism. When he is matched up against a more athletic, skilled player, he struggles mightily. He often sees the play, makes the right decision, but lacks the athletic ability to make the play happen. Of late, he's begun to be more aggressive on offense, which has helped his overall game, but he's better suited in an off-guard, Marty Clark type of role.
And if you look at all their losses, what's the common denominator? Superior athletes. Why else do they struggle against the likes of Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia Tech?
4) No "Go to" guy This is apparent, as they have no one to take that shot as the clock is winding down. McRoberts has missed 2 game winners in Duke losses, from 2-3 feet away. Difference between unranked and top 15.
They will make the NCAAs, likely as a 4 or 5 seed, maybe a 3 with a late season run... but it will be a 2nd or 3rd round exit for them likely this year.
But they DO have quality wins. Daniel wants to knock the wins over Georgetown and Indiana, but they were wins. And let's not forget the wins over Gonzaga, Air Force, 2 wins over BC, win over Clemson... and despite falling from the AP and USA Today polls, they're 17th in RPI and have the 4th toughest schedule in the country. That resume, along with the Duke name, gets you into the tourny.
Wow, so Duke lost when their best p;ayer, JJ, didn't shoot well. Such a surprise there. McBooby? Wow, only a Tarheel could be so clever. I guess this is the same person who came up with the lamest nickname in all of sports, Psycho T.
Did anyone else watch Duke beat BC (#1 in the ACC) tonight at BC? Ran up a 24-point lead until (1) BC woke up, which for some reason they hadn't until halfway through the second half; (2) Duke took the air out of the ball, which frankly they don't do very well. So the margin was closer than it might have been. But still, a good win, and proof they ain't dead yet.
(And, by the way, McRoberts had 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. He dominated inside.)
Others have pointed out that the Redick/Williams years were damn good - 3 ACC championships (and a 4th lost only in OT) in 4 years, more wins than any other team in BB. If that's not an "empire," it'll do until one comes along.
Why is it that when Duke gets a lead late in the game and has an offensive flow, they always go into a stall game to run time off the clock and lose offensive flow, momentum and eventually, the game. The same thing almost happened tonight. They build a huge lead by attacking the basket and then stop. Once they do that, they seldom re-generate any offense. Everytime they start stalling, Paulus starts fumbling the ball, taking ill advised shots or just wipes out any momentum. When is Duke going to figure that out?
To the person who said that williams and reddick never made the final four. How about the year they played UCONN for the title. Dukes biggest problem is turnovers and having a go to guy. Until McRoberts decides he is going to take over games like he did against Boston College then Duke will struggle. He is to talented and to multi demintional for most power fowards in the country to gaurd him.
Hey Luke, you make several good points. But it seems to me that Paulus has improved greatly since the beginning of the season. I wonder if you would get better numbers on him if you only looked at the data for the second half of the season. The Maryland game was not a highlight for him obviously, and Virginia Tech was an absolute nightmare, but in many of the ACC games he has had a pretty decent A/TO ratio, if I remember correctly.
I also wonder if the raw numbers underestimate his abilities, since it seems to me (though I suppose there is no data that would prove or disprove this) that he is often able to find an open man who is either not aggressive enough to take the shot (often Scheyer), or does take the shot and misses, or sometimes does take the shot but gets fouled. And therefore he may have made a nice pass but does not get credited with an assist. But I have no idea how he compares in this respect to other PGs; it is just a trend that I have noticed.
On the other hand, maybe I (a devoted Cameron Crazie) am just trying to rationalize how Greg has somehow become one of my favorite players. He has been up and down this year, as the entire team has, but I appreciate his effort, toughness, and passion, and I realize that he is carrying an especially heavy load in having to lead a team so young and so lacking in an offensive identity. I predict that you will see him grow a lot over the next couple seasons--and hopefully over the rest of this season too!
The idea behind running the clock is to develop the discipline of wasting time but still executing on the offense. If you can do this right, it eliminates the risk of the opposing team making a few lucky shots and mounting a comeback.
That tactic is not working so well this year because this team is just too young, lacks a go-to-scorer, doesn't shoot well, and turns the ball often. BUT I've seen this tactic work like magic in previous years' teams--you could just see the hope draining away in the opposing teams as time is running out and Duke is still adding to its lead.
My guess is Coach K wants this year's team to keep running the clock--even if it doesn't work so well right now--to prepare for the NCAAs in March. I think Duke needs one more ACC win to get into the tournament. I'm a Duke fan but I'd be pretty happy if they make the Sweet 16 this year.
I think what alot of you are forgeting about is the fact that carolina was sitting in the same postion last year at the start of the season that duke was. everyone of the main players left and they had to rely on mainly freshman. its history as to what great coaching roy williams did last year. it seems that coach k had a little better team to work with than roy but the difference is plain to see. roy is the better coach. to be able to be a successful coach is to be able to win with less talent. coach k has had the talent the last few years and won. this year he doesn't and he's not. doesn't take a duke rocket scientist to figure that one out. and as far as the riddick/williams empire nothing they did during their years at duke can over shadow losing on senior night at cameron to psycho t and the tarheels last year...lol(losing to a bunch of freshman) ha!
Duke is very good at attacking. They are normally a bad half-court team when well defended. The poster above is right....Do not go into "four corners" until two minutes are left. Duke allmost lost several games earlier in the year that they ultimately won b/c of this stall inefficiency.
But all us Duke fans knew coming in to this year that if Duke was going tochallenge for the NC, then Lance Thomas would have to be that huge impact freshman. That has not happened. And therefore, Duke offense in the clutch is McR and Scheyer...very guardable. They need a third option. Paulus hits 3s when wide open, but not when well defended with the game on the line.
Luke, interesting that you give Texas a pass as a team that has supposedly stayed successful while devoting a column to Duke's weaknesses. You do realize that the two teams have virtually the same record, Duke plays in a tougher league, and Duke has far more good nonconference wins than Texas? If the tourney were seeded today, Duke would probably be 2-3 lines above Texas.
And I have also watched many of Dukes games this year, and have heard announcer after announcer, especially in the Duke vs. UNC game pity Duke's lack of depth opposed to other teams.
Duke has 6 McDonald's All-Americans, and UNC has 6 McDonald's All-Americans, what distiguishes the difference is the type of players that Coach K gets,.. For example, Brian Zoubek, a highly touted "All-American" is the one of the worst offensive basketball players I have ever seen, and averages 3.7 PPG, and is extremely unathletic, while UNC goes for the likes of Deon Thompson, a gifted athlete who is NOT an All-American, who could be a star on any other team other than UNC because the incredible depth of Tyler & Brandan.
The point is that Duke goes for the "highly touted" white guys, who does absolutely nothing in college, ex. Randolph, and absolutely play awful in the NBA,..Reddick, Leattner,..the list goes on.
Unbelievable! Reading all these negative comments from anti-Duke fans. Bad team! They are 19-7. How many teams with comparable records are already "locked" in to the NCAA tournament?
Duke has lost 3 games by a total of 5 points, two in O.T.! Carolina just barely beat them.
Oh, and the comments about Duke having beaten Georgetown and Indiana early in the season when their players weren't totally developed as yet...Do you think Duke's 3 freshmen and 2 sophmores were hardened veterens at that point in the season? Geez, give me a break!
Paulus may not remind anyone of Bobby Hurley but the kid is playing good basketball of late and will get better. UNC's guards didn't school him as everyone thought and they couldn't stop him on offense either. The kid has a game!
I'll bet you won't want your team laying Duke in the early rounds of the tournament!
I'm a huge Duke fan, but I think our problems lately revolve more around the coach than anywhere else. You can't have as many talented players as they do from top to bottom on the line-up, and only run 6 or 7 guys deep every night, playing a running, up-tempo game for 40 minutes, and expect them to not wear out by end of the year. We could easily go deeper into our bench, and don't. We could easily run any kind of zone defense to help the 6 or 7 guys we do play to catch a breath in the game, and we don't. Anybody who has ever played knows a zone defense is a good way to rest during the game because you don't do as much running around on the defensive end, but Coach K has got it stuck in his head that the only defense out there is man-to-man. When we jumped out big on UNC to start the second half, great time to switch to a zone to rest our players-nope lets keep chasing their players all over the court like a bunch of horny 15 year olds after Brooklyn Decker. Coach K used to be able to look at a team and say this is what we're going to do, try and stop it-and we had the talent to pull it off. Now the talent level has evened, to where even perennial mid-majors like the MVC have the talent to keep up with the big-boys. Coach K needs to change his mind-set and re-evaluate how he coaches to better suit his players and fan bases desire to win.
Duke is a very talented but young team and UNC is the same. Both are loaded with McDonald's All-Americans, but UNC seems to be a much better team. My take on this that coach K may be making an error in strategy. Who has ever heard of a "point center." Well that's exactly the position McRoberts is playing. How can he be a force in the post if he's always outside on the perimeter? Let's face the facts: Duke can't win consistently with Paulus as point guard. His inability to drive the lane and create shots for teammate is really hurting Duke. Watch how quick he is to pick up his dribble! In my opinion, coack K has to "run and gun" this team in order to make them more competitive. Their half court offense is weak because of Paulus' problems. Duke has very athletic players in McRoberts, Nelson, Thomas and Mclure. Turn them loose and let them play. Finally, nobody loses a big lead better than Duke, and don't think the competition isn't aware of this. It's OK to protect a lead, but don't hold the ball and try not to score. You can't argue with Duke or coack K's success over the years, but it may be time to re-asess team strategy.
Duke couldn't beat BYU right now! They look confused, slow and Paulus couldn't run an offense to save his life. Duke got a few lucky bounces last night that lead to easy lay-ups. I have an idea - let's play scared and lose a huge second half lead.
8:47 AM -- a number of Duke recruits become McDonalds All-Americans simply because they've already signed with Duke. Your beloved UNC certainly isn't immune to this -- I remember a certain stiff named Neal Fingleton looking lost and far more ridiculous than Zoubek in a McD's game, don't you?
"...it's hard for me to bash a Duke player but there's something about Greg Paulus that I don't care for. Maybe it's because of the fact that he came in with a lot of fanfare and I guess they thought if he focused strictly on basketball over football he would improve immensely."
That sounds an awful lot like Ron Curry at UNC. Much hype coming in (as much for football as basketball) but a definite disappointment on the court. Unlike Paulus though, he tried to play both, which hurt his development. The torn achilles didn't help either. See "The Amazing Ronald Curry" for more on Curry.
The fact that Duke played IU and G'town at home this year is a scheduling quirk. The IU game was part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge (Smackdown?), which alternates home and away. The G'town series is also home-and-away. Only an irrational Duke hater could find fault with them WINNING those two games.
"Why do you think players keep transferring. Because they dont play."
And why do you think they don't play? Because they couldn't contribute, that's why. But hell, I'm sure you and other folks posting here know more about the team and its players and what they can do than the coaches who recruited them and who watch them every day in practice, lol.
If a player feels he needs to transfer because he wasn't getting tons of minutes IN HIS FRESHMAN YEAR, let him go. Good riddance.
But your right, Boateng left because he knew he wasn't going to play, because he knew he wasn't good enough. That's why he transferred to a Pac-10 cellar dweller, where he may play, but he's in for a wake-up call, because Herb doesn't utilize the inside game,and Boateng has no outside shot, lol.
Boykin, however, transferred due to family issues, and I don't blame him. He still wouldn't have gotten playing time had he stayed because he wasn't good enough. No shame in that, it's just reality.
Bottom line, minutes aren't given, they are earned. You don't get to play just because you're a burger boy.
I question one of Luke's comments, namely the one he makes about "transcendent" freshmen. He mentions in this paragraph the name Kevin Durant. While Durant is certainly a heck of a talent, its not like he sling shoted Texas into a top 5 or final-four caliber team. I agree that Durant is a Carmelo like talent, but I just dont see Durant having a Carmelo like impact on the Tournament, like Carmelo did in 2003. I know its not quite Duke related, but i just didnt agree with this point (which has been made several times throughout this season)
First of all let me say I've been a Duke fan since Christian Laetner outplayed Alonzo Morning to reach the final four. However I've never been much of a coach K fan. He has always seemed to go after the best available white guy instead of the best available player. It reminds me of the Celtics or Milwauke of the 80's. He's had some big misses when the touted recruit is a bust. He doesn't develop his bench and players transfer every year. He has often been outcoached in big games, like in the national title game by Jim Calhoun. He always advises his players in his own interests instead of the players best interes, i.e. he always advises them to stay. I also can't stand his politics. He is a great recruiter and motivator but he is not good with x's and o's or developing his talent, hence all the nba busts. Roy Williams is clearly the better coach and I predict that North Carolina will be the better team until Roy retires
We all know this year's team is not very athletic and experienced and a few posts pointed out the lack of athleticism during the JJ Redick/Sheldon Williams years (which hurt Duke in the NCAA's, no question). The real question is why this happened because the teams that made the great runs around the 3 national championships were extremely athletic, particularly the role players. I don't think K has lost his recruiting touch as he pretty much gets who he wants (top 5 recruiting class this year, top class next year). So what's going on? Why is he recruiting a different type of player now than he did in the past?
I have a theory which is based on the following assumption: K only recruits players who, in return, are committed to earning their degrees. This is Duke, not State U, and Duke has an interest in graduating all its students, including its athletes (Duke’s football team may be a laughingstock on the field, but they graduate all their players, which brings prestige to the university). Plus, K has always viewed himself as a teacher first, basketball coach second, and education is very important to him (look no further than K’s exemplary contribution to Duke’s Fuqua Business School). As such, K has always avoided players labeled as “one and done” and has never really recruited “hardship” players who need to leave if given the opportunity for financial reasons
If this assumption holds water, then the reason for a lack of athleticism on the current team is obvious. K has stopped recruiting players who are flight risks and these are typically athletic players (the NBA puts such a high emphasis on athleticism as a criterion for success, particularly for young, unproven players). I think the early departures in ’99 and ’02 hurt Coach K personally and I think the final straw came in ’04 after Deng left after only one year and Livingston never set foot on campus. Since then, the recruiting philosophy has definitely changed, in my opinion, and 4-year players have been targeted. I know McRoberts almost came out last year, but he was under tremendous pressure from K to stay and eventually changed his mind. Some Duke haters in the press labeled this as bullying (Doyel and Forde, I believe) but I think this had more to do with McRoberts honoring his commitment to the university than anything else. If McRoberts could have somehow earned his degree in one year, K would have blessed it, just like he did Jay Williams’s early departure, after earning his degree in 3 years.
Just my thoughts, but I’m surprised no one in the national media has picked up on Duke’s change in recruiting philosophy over the last few years. It seems pretty obvious.
i hate these duke fans that are defending their team. 8:40 a.m.- the difference between duke and texas is that texas has a go-to guy in kevin durant duke doesnt have u yet.
ron wing- well i sort of duke to come out like that aganist unc after being beaten last year on senior night. look just because your team isnt da bomb and isnt going to make the final four doesnt mean u have to go whine and complaint. chill and wait till next year and yes i would love to play duke in the early rounds of March Madness
Why is Duke getting preferential treatment? Alabama beat no 1 Flordia and no 18 Kentucky, and they get a 25th ranking. Duke lost to three of four unranked teams in the first week of Feb. They get knocked out of the top 25...then beat 21st ranked BC and unranked Georgia Tech and Duke get a ranking of 17th. It can't be strength of schedule because Duke have about five remaining games and one of the last five is ranked. Regardless of schedule, a team can't lose against unranked teams and still maintain a high ranking...can it? Thanks for taking time to read and reply.
It's obvious many of the posters on this thread haven't watched many Duke games this year or for that matter in past years.
This year's team does have talent on it, as does every Duke team that Coach K recruits.
It's hard to believe that Duke has won 20 games this year, especially looking at this thread. An outsider with no knowledge of college basketball viewing this thread would probably think Duke was a .500 team at best.
Yes, Duke has a young team and Nelson who is a junior, really doesn't have that many games under his belt, due to all the injuries he suffered his first two years. I think it's fair to say they are looking for an offensive identity, as it's obvious they still play hardnosed defense.
Only two of their losses can be termed "bad losses". with the other games going down to the wire.
For a team that was labelled dead and sinking they've rebounded quite well, with two big wins.
While I know they aren't going to win a National Championship this year, I'm quite confident they will acquit themselves quite well during the tournament.
First, it's so pathetic to see all the Duke haters. You childish jerks just love this season don't you? I don't blame you really, if I were of your caliber, I'd be jealous as well. Truth is: Coach K is the BEST coach in college sports, without question. He is 10 times the coach of Roy Williams (aka traitor) and all the other sub par coaches out there. And secondly, Duke is superior, the cycle permits a down year. What most of you Duke hating idiots don't remember is that Duke has student athletes that actually go on to do something with their lives, more than I can say for most other schools where the athletes can't even use correct grammar or complete a sentence. Josh is one of the best players in the country, he's having to take on entirely too much by himself and Paulus has done what he could. Sure, he's choked up a time or two but he out-plays almost any defender put on him. Duke is loaded with talent and is under-rated. When this team finds their cohesion, then the proof will come out and all you jealous morons know what you can kiss. GO DUKE! HEELS SUCK!
6:46 -- Just because players are white doesn't mean they're not "athletic." McRoberts is a ridiculous athlete -- he jumps, dribbles and passes extraordinarily well for a 6'10 guy. And Greg Paulus might not be the quickest PG around, but he was a freaking all-American QB. Duke's problem isn't a lack of "athleticism" -- it's a lack of being able to finish games down the stretch. They almost blew another one tonight at BC.
As a Duke fan and potential Duke Master's student, they do not have a single player on this team.
No one on this team will play in the NBA. Lance Thomas has some potential, but that's it. They have no one that can score off the dribble and that's evident with the three man weave type of offense they've been running, to try and catch someone in the switch for an easy basket. Now think to 2001. Duke had 4 bona fide players on that team. Before you discredit Jason Williams, he was leading the NBA in rookie assists before his injury, so he can play son. Boozer is a double double guy, Shane is a double double guy, and Dunleavy was doing his thing for Golden State before the coaching chance. Let alone Chris Duhon who was a frosh on that team and led Duke to the Final Four his senior year when your boy Daniel Ewing couldn't hit a free thro to save yours or his life. Back to my point, they (2001 team) ran a straight up motion offense, and when the clock would get low, Jason Williams could take ANYONE off the dribble to create a scoring opportunity. Paulus is the worst PG Coach K has ever had. To even bring him up in a discussion of "what wrong with..." validates my argument. Wojo was the worst until Paulus got there. Last year he had a guy who scored 27.5 a game and another guy score 19 a game, so he was protected. He cannot defend without the handcheck and can't get past anyone on the face up. Schyer is like Chris Collins..a decent shooter put you have to bend over backwards to get the guy a shot, and he takes to long to shoot it...Nelson is like Rick Price. He wants to be good, but his jumper is bad, and he's not big enough to do anything else, so like Rick Price, he'll play in Europe, and Paulus and Scheyer will coach. McRoberts is like Cherokee Parks. He'll play in the league, but does not want the ball in crunch time. He's afraid of the big play and can't score in close when it counts unlike Sheldon Williams, Carlos Boozer, and Elton Brand (all who currently play in the league). But like Shavlik Randolph and Cherokee Parks, McRoberts will get to the league because of the Duke brand. At best, he'll play 6-10 mins a game. The freshman Henderson and Thomas are okay, but they lack the skills to get them to the league. At Duke Freshman who play, contribute, and or dominate enjoy professional success, and not one player on this Duke team dominates or dominated as a FROSH, just look at the team man, David McClure plays all the time. Would he really be playing if Coach K had a really talented team? Shane didn't really dominate as a FROSH, but he did a great job guarding Ron Mercer in the Regional Final in Tampa. Matter of fact, it was WOJO who couldn't do anything with Wayne Turner, and Coach K's bullheadedness that kept him from playing the far superior (to Wojo) William Avery. Lastly, the Mickey D's factor. It's a valid point that Duke has several Mickey D's, but that's subjective...These guys got a lot of hype in high school (Paulus, McBob, and Schyer) and hadn't really proven anything on the AAU circuit. They had great stats, but I knew when I saw Paulus as a FROSH, he wouldn't be able to defend at the college level. Plus Wojo and Collins were Mickey D'ers too, and they ate a tremendous amount of dog ass. So was Cherokee Parks.
Until K gets some players that might leave early, he will continue to suffer. Lou Deng (Big Baby Africa) left early and Shaun Livingston never showed up and that made K skeptical on recruiting BROTHAS with tremendous upside. That's why he didn't go after OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, or Greg Oden. We'll see if he goes after Tyreke Evans and or Lance Stephenson. K lives and dies with PG and or guard play. When he has future coaches as guards (Capel, Wojo, and Collins) Duke looks vulnerable. When he has players (J. Williams, Avery, Duhon, Redick) then he's Final Four bound. Do the math, he's been to 10 Final Fours. With the exception of 1994 when Grant willed Duke to the championship, he had stellar guard play.
"Why is Duke getting preferential treatment? Alabama beat no 1 Flordia and no 18 Kentucky, and they get a 25th ranking. Duke lost to three of four unranked teams in the first week of Feb. They get knocked out of the top 25...then beat 21st ranked BC and unranked Georgia Tech and Duke get a ranking of 17th. It can't be strength of schedule because Duke have about five remaining games and one of the last five is ranked. Regardless of schedule, a team can't lose against unranked teams and still maintain a high ranking...can it? Thanks for taking time to read and reply." Sorry Henry 4:56pm, Alabama did not beat Florida. Duke and Alabama's schedules are not all that similar as well. As of last week, there were 9 ACC teams in the RPI top 40. Duke may have lost to some unranked teams, but they were still decent teams.
Duke currently has a #10 RPI and #3 SOS.
I am not knocking the tide, but they have very different resumes.
I think the AP and ESPN rankings have become a joke. I mean is Butler really a top 15 team? losses to Indiana St. and Ill-Chicago.
Duke is young and they are going to struggle. They are not a dominant team, but they may win a few games in the tourney. As a Duke fan, the sweet 16 would be fantastic this year.
With the additions of Singler, King and Nolan Smith next year, I think Duke will return to the top 5 for sure.
Duke was not a great team this year, I am a Duke fan and I admit that but I would like to point out that it shows how many people hate Duke because of how good we have been in years past (it is like the Yankees in baseball by the way I hate the Yankees. To prove my point remember in 2002-2003 season when UNC ended up in the NIT and 19-15 overall with at one point a five game losing streak and (Duke this year was 21-11 and a 6th seed in the NCAA's, also I might add it was with players they later won in 2005 with), not very many people cared . Also about Duke players transfering it is true that Coach K has generally an 8 man lineup but you cant blame him for keeping it like that because it has worked for him (he won 3 national championships with this). To clear it up Duke did go the 2004 Final Four with JJ and Sheldon and we won 3 out of 4 ACC tournements. Duke's losing this year has been because of lack of size. I think that Coach K's 8 man lineup may have backfired on him because Zoubek did not get much playing time which means with McRoberts most likely gone Lance and Brian won't have a lot of experience (but I still think they are both great players who will go far). About Paulus he is going to be a great player. He is not as fast as other guards in the ACC but he is a sophomore and he will eventually be able to use his smarts to be one of the best pgs in the ACC (His improved shooting wont hurt either). Prediction: Next year Duke loses in Elite 8 as a 3 seed and finishes #11 in the polls.