K’s Year Off

I know this will be an opinion not shared by many of those who follow Duke, but to me, this was one of the worst coaching jobs K has ever done (apologies for the Bleacher Report quality intro but I’m still upset over the loss). I know people will point out how we beat many great teams during the course of the year and how we had a chance to win the ACC regular season title as proof of K’s genius, but to me those early successes simply mask the overall poor job he did this year. A poor job that by and large was the result of the stubbornness – which admittedly has over the last 32 years generally served him better than worse – that led to a highly uncharacteristic lack of experimentation that ultimately doomed the team.

K ultimately failed this team and potentially future ones in 3 ways: 1) not recognizing that our lack of perimeter defense was not something that could be fixed with simple willpower (why was this ever seemingly considered an option I will never understand), and the unwillingness to give 2) Cook and  3) Gbinije more run at the PG and SF spots, respectively. On the defensive front, I would’ve hoped following the Temple game, that K would realize that forcing our guards to pressure out on the perimeter was only leading them to get beaten off the dribble and forcing Mason, Miles and Kelly to constantly have to help which led to offensive rebound situations and increased fouls accumulated by the bigs challenging shots. It seemed to me at least that going to the 2010 sag defense ( as depicted by Luke Winn) could solve so many of our perimeter defensive problems.

Packing the inside of the arc with guards would still allow us to run opponents off the 3 (a classic and highly effective K tactic), but when they drive by, we’d still have a clogged paint of 3-4 guys ready to take away clear paths to the basket, thereby forcing low percentage mid-range jumpers. The further advantage of this is that we’d almost always have 4-5 guys inside the arc ready to grab defensive boards, and since we already couldn’t force turnovers (finishing at 18.7% TO%, good for 254th in the nation), there didn’t seem to be much of a downside to this approach. By sticking to a defense that only enhanced the weaknesses of our guards as opposed to using one that hid them, K just kept trying to nail the square peg into the round hole that was our defense.

As for the point guard situation, looking at plus-minus data (basically going through the play by play data on statsheet) through the VaTech game at home against good competition (Belmont, @Clemson, Davidson, home and away to FSU, @Georgia Tech, Kansas, home and away to MD, Miami, Mich, MSU, @UNC, NCSU, @OSU, SJU, Temple, Tennessee, home and away to VT, and UW to be precise) the data screams for Quinn Cook to be given more run.

Now I will gladly acknowledge the randomness of plus-minus data (read Ken Pomeroy’s diatribes against to get a better idea of its failings), but the fact remains that in the 24% of the minutes Cook played in those games our offensive efficiency was 116.8/100 poss vs. 109.9 off the court and our defensive efficiency was 101.9 vs. 105.4 (just to be clear these numbers are adjusted for strength of the opponent each player was on the court for and other variances such as FT% of teammates and opponents when on the court. Neither Cook nor Tyler should be held responsible for Mason’s FT%). Take those 2 together and Cook was a +10.4/100 possessions, or as I like to look at it the best numbers on the team (for a sanity check, Rivers was #2 at +7.1). Tyler on the other hand was -5.4/100 poss with a -5.3 on offense and a +0.1 on defense (positive is bad here).

Just to offer a further breakdown of what went right and wrong with each on the court, the key to Cook’s offensive effectiveness wasn’t that we shot the ball better (our eFG with him in the game was 45.6% with Cook in and 47.8% out) or got to the line more (FTA/FGA of 0.441 in and 0.472 out), but simply that we got more shots up. When Cook was in the game, we only turned it over on 13.9% of our possessions vs. 19.5% for Tyler (I’m gonna guess this is partly due to the fact that Cook only coughs it up on 13.3% of his possessions in these games vs. 28.5% for Tyler), and we also (though I won’t claim any Cook-related credit) grabbed 35% of available offensive boards vs. 32% for Tyler. Add these things up and look at “shots” (a metric John Hollinger uses relatively often. Shots = FGA +.475*FTA) and with Cook in the game we attempt 107.1 shots/100 possessions vs. 96.2/100 with Tyler. That’s an enormous difference.

Defensively, I think there’s a tendency to say that because Tyler has obvious offensive flaws that he must be an elite defender in order to be playing for Duke when it’s perfectly possible that he’s just one of those unheralded four-year players like Dave McClure who we simply hope we don’t have to give regular time to, much less start. And while I will defer to the defensive statsheet guys at Duke Hoop Blog in terms of measuring defensive performance (and I know Cook tends to rate somewhere between average and Andre-level bad), the fact remains that with Tyler in the game opponents tend to shoot better from 2 (47.4% for Cook and 49.4% for Tyler), though I won’t focus as much on that as the fact that my God, does Tyler foul a lot. He committed a foul on 8.7% of the possessions he was on the court for, which is second on the team to only Josh “insert scream here” Hairston’s 9.6%, and serves as stark contrast to Cook’s 3.7%. That not only leads to more free throws for our opponents (0.339 FTA/FGA with Tyler in vs. 0.270 for Cook) but also leads to us getting in the penalty sooner and more frequently.

Lastly on the issue of point guards and my opinion that K should’ve started Cook and basically handed him the reins, just ask yourself as a fan, did you really ever think Tyler (whom my fellow alums have started referring to dejectedly as “the poor man’s Greg Paulus…who can’t shoot”) was the solution? If so, you need to put down the Kool-Aid in your hand and come back to reality. Even more to the point is that I wish K had realized early on in the year that this was a team that barring some tremendous breaks or massive improvements as certain positions was not going to win a title. The early wins over Michigan St. and Kansas and then the win at Carolina almost certainly led to a deluded thought that this team was better than it was and not in need of some experimentation and minutes to be given to younger guys. Would Cook have absolutely worked out and we would be cruising to the Final Four?

I doubt it, but I can’t say for sure we still wouldn’t have been better than we ended and that we wouldn’t be better next year just for knowing that this is Cook’s team. K basically repeated the Larry Drew debacle that Roy made last year without ever taking a shot and putting in the defensively liable but offensively far more gifted freshman point guard. And while I won’t claim that Cook would’ve been as effective as a freshman as Marshall, it’s my contention that his turnover-free offense and the providing of a second guard in addition to Rivers capable of getting in the paint, would’ve at least been better than what we got instead.

As far as Gbinije, I can honestly say that nothing K said all year infuriated me more than his complaint after the UNC loss that he wished had taller wings. Now I don’t want to be seen (and I know it’s probably too late) as saying a 4-time national champ coach doesn’t know what he’s doing, but how can you say you wish you had a real 3 when you simply refused to play one during pretty much the entire course of ACC play. From January 1 through the end of the ACC Tournament, Gbinije played 30 minutes. We may as well have redshirted the kid and given that we have Alex Murphy coming in next year as well as potentially (though unfortunately, not likely) Shabazz Muhammad, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Gbinije is looking to transfer.

Now I understand that just screeching that someone should’ve played more is stupid without at least going about and suggesting whose minutes should be reduced for Gbinije. In this case the answer is pretty straightforward: Andre Dawkins. The eye test alone would tell you that Dre is by far our worst defender, but being a nerd and all, I’m going to quantify it nonetheless. He’s epically bad defensively. Like we’re 9.5 pts/100 possessions better with him on the pine. On the court, we’re giving up 108.3/100 with Dre while off the court, we’re giving up 98.8. The numbers would indicate that he almost singlehandedly was the difference between us being an atrocious defensive team and us being a semi-decent to good one. Let’s break it down further and look at the 4 factors with Dre on and off the court: On the court, foes shoot an eFG of 49.3% vs. 47.2% off, helped no doubt by the 49.7% (!) 2-point shooting with Dre on the floor (I can picture the backdoor cut – a product of a forced upon pressure D – being executed in my mind) vs. 48% off.

Looking at turnovers, we forced 21.3% with Dre off the court, which would’ve been good for a mediocre but still above average 113th in the country, whereas with Dre playing, we forced just 17.2%, good for 315th. Opponent offensive rebounding sans Dre (this is one where I will throw all the guards not named Rivers under the bus. Their DR% ranged from 6.0-6.8%. Rivers was 9.0%) was 31.5%, or about 150th in the country. With Dre, it was 35.9%, or 308th. To Dre’s credit we fouled less with him on the court (0.315 FTA/FGA) vs. off the court (0.335). As someone who spent Dre’s first 2 years thinking he was the ability to get to the hoop from the arc away from being an All-American, this last paragraph hurt to write.

The thing that keeps drawing Duke fans back to Dre is that when that sweet looking jumper is on, he’s liable to do wonderful things like hit 6 first half threes in Tallahassee, but when it’s off, well he’s liable to do terrible things like hit 4 more shots the rest of the year following that half. He does all this while always playing atrocious defense. So the question my friends and I never could figure out is why, after the first 5-10 minutes in the game, when you can always tell whether Dre has it or not, if he isn’t hitting the deep ball, why not give Gbinije some run? I’ll admit Gbinije’s raw plus-minus defensively is worse than Dre’s but that’s accumulated in the course of 36 minutes. I doubt over the longer haul, having a longer wing defensively would’ve been worse than Dre (again he was +9.5/100 poss.

No one else was that good or bad either offensively or defensively). Aside from shoring us up defensively for some of the minutes Dre wound up playing, wouldn’t it have also built confidence in Gbinije? And it K honestly felt Gbinije was so bad defensively as to not be worth even taking Dre’s minutes, isn’t that a scarier thought? Did we just miss badly recruiting-wise?

I’m not saying that making any of these changes (though I bet the defensive change would’ve really helped) would’ve guaranteed greater success in the tournament, but if nothing else, wouldn’t we be better going into next year having a more talented point guard we’re committed to having run the team and a more confident small forward ready to take on an increased load next season. If that means we would’ve finished 11-5 in the ACC (and again, can we really be certain that would’ve been the case?) as opposed to 13-3, is that so bad? I at least know I would’ve made the trade, even if K and his obsession with winning every game at all costs would never.

Raj

About Raj

I graduated Duke in 2008, after becoming just the 2nd class since 1986 to not see us go to a Final Four. Of the different kinds of Duke fans who all ultimately love the team, I'm one of the ones who like to hate what they love.
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26 Responses to K’s Year Off

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  1. sduke says:

    I Respect where you are coming from but if you think this was a bad coaching job you are just a typical spoiled duke fan who has become so use to winning that u expect perfection all the time well guess what not gonna happen my friend this was an EPIC coaching job by K i mean this is one of the least talented teams weve had at duke in a long time and have virtually one nba caliber player in rivers (sure mason will get drafted but will never be a major contributor) had anyone else coached this team they would have barely finished above 500 i mean the team down the road had a whole starting 5 of nba talent and id argue that their season was no more impressive than ours i mean they went 3-5 against ranked teams and we had a good record against top 25 teams you should be happy to have k as out coach i mean look at roy unless you give him all the talent in the world he cant win coach k worked with what he had this year and was successful i mean u cant say because we didnt win the acc tourny or advance in the dance that coach was bad i mean hello we didnt have ryan kelly with him things are a little different you are basically still emotional like most duke fans right now but dont go blaming one of the all time greats that is where you would be wrong

  2. I’m not saying we should have advanced in the ACC tourney (I’m with Roy in that I don’t care about it), or the NCAA, though I do think it’s fair to say we still should have beaten Lehigh even without Kelly. What I’m saying is that K was simply stubborn this year and refused to experiment like he normally does. For instance, can anyone who watched our perimeter defense honestly say that playing that aggressively was a good idea? We had neither the length or the lateral quickness to play such a style and the numbers back that up. Good coaching responds to that glaring weakness by not playing a style that only accentuates said glaring weakness. The idea that I’m not “happy to have K as our coach” is ludicrous. He’s at worst the 2nd best coach (Wooden) in the history of college basketball. That said, it doesn’t do anyone any good to always say that K does a magnificent coaching job. 2010 was an “EPIC coaching job”. This was a year when K had 5 McDonald’s or Jordan Brand All-Americans (Rivers, Cook, Mason, Kelly, Gbinije) and 1 who would’ve been had he not reclassified early (Dawkins) and he got a 2 seed. That’s what you’re SUPPOSED TO DO with 6 high school All-Americans. Not doing that makes you UCLA, and if you think I’m wrong, I dare you to find a school with better rated talent coming out of high school (http://rscihoops.com) that did worse, other than maybe the Westwood disaster (and frankly they’re recruiting from 2009-2011 isn’t what it once was). In fact I bet only UNC and UK, and maybe KU, have recruits close to the overall ranking of ours. The fact that a lot of those guys, esp. the bigs, haven’t developed into guaranteed NBA caliber players like say “the team down the road’s” is also either 1) poor coaching or 2) a string of bad luck that has occurred over a long enough time period since Shelden graduated in 2006 that even our top recruiting targets talk about it to ESPN (http://espn.go.com/high-school/boys-basketball/story/_/id/7717492/tony-parker-recruiting-roundtable).

    Again, and I should have made this clearer in the article above, I am in no way disparaging K’s overall credentials, but rather pointing out that when you ultimately look at this year, we didn’t really do anything that remarkable, did we? We were predicted to finish 2nd in the ACC, and lo and behold, we finished 2nd. And sure we went 5-3 against teams in the final top 25 (I chose not to include the loss in the ACCT to FSU), but we were outscored in those 8 games by 15, and the most we won any single game by was 8 (@FSU), whereas Ohio st. and UNC beat us by a combined 40. All that is to say that our record is not the mark of great coaching per se. It could just as easily have been luck (for this I will cite the numerous studies that show no year to year correlation in close game performance of teams). The difference between 5-3 in those games and 2-6 or 1-7 isn’t really as much as you might think, and giving K credit while letting him off the hook for major mistakes such as, again, the defense, under the guise of “nobody’s perfect” is kind of foolish, isn’t it?

  3. Graham says:

    I can understand and sympathize with some of things you have posted; however, I have trouble trying to understand why you go to such lengths in pointing this out. Do you want K to resign? Do you think he will read this link and suddenly change his coaching techniques? Will it help Duke recruit better players? In my opinion this type of writing will only provide “fodder” for the hate Duke crowd. For the life of me, I can’t see how it will help anything. There has got to be a better way to let go of the frustrations from losing our last two games. Follow up please.

  4. chiguy33 says:

    Raj, where did you find the plus/minus numbers that are “adjusted for strength of the opponent each player was on the court for and other variances…”?

    Thanks!

    1. Likewise when looking at plus/minus, how are you adjusting for strength of opposing line-ups as Thornton would match up against the other team’s starting line-up while Cook matched up with the other team’s reserves.

      On Gbinije, he’s a freshman. Even if he wasn’t ready defensively this year, it doesn’t mean K missed recruiting wise on him. He has another 3 years to improve. On whether we should have played Gbinije early on this year so he could learn through mistakes, were we really ready to give up on a young athletic junior (he came a year early) who had the potential to blow up offensively every game in favor of developing an athletic but raw freshman SF because he was 2 inches taller? Would we have been ok with losing games to get that development? What was wrong with letting Gbinije develop in practice instead (even if it is at a slower rate)? It’s easier to point at the what-if’s on Dawkins/Gbinije after Dawkin’s epic disappearance down the stretch.

  5. Anthony says:

    Good post, Raj. To one of your points, he certainly should have used the sagged in defense against Arizona last year. The thinking should be that he should extend when he needs to boost the offense (forced turnovers) and stay packed in when he has an offense that can execute in the half court. It made sense this season. It didn’t last season, particulary against Arizona in the Dance. I think a greater theme with Duke is the fact that they will continue to fall in the recruiting game. Yes, they will be able to find the occasional gem like Irving, but I don’t think K wants a lot of one-and-dones no matter what he says publicly. The Duke brand isn’t resonating as well with 15-16-17 year olds as it did 20 years ago. He won’t be able to bring in a haul like Maggette, Brand, Avery, and Battier anymore. That ALL being said, the quality of college basketball is down across the board and he can certainly still coach. I actually think it did quite well this year considering the talent and speed limitations. I think future Duke championships (if they happen at all), will be like the 2010 team. They will hang around, get a lucky bracket, and outlast the field. The years of overwhelming the competition with talent are over.

  6. david says:

    I absolutely agree 100% with you on this one. I’ve been saying this all year long and I’m sooo glad that somebody else shared the same thoughts!!

  7. @chiguy33. The numbers come from sorting through play by play data from statsheet.com and basically creating a large spreadsheet. “Adjusting” is done by making for instance everyone’s teammate FT% and opponent FT% the team and opponent average, resp. Basically you shouldn’t be penalized because when you were on the court, Mason went to the line more than Kelly nor is your defense responsible for a team making 90% of it’s FT’s (it’s just responsible for them getting the FTA’s).

    1. chiguy33 says:

      How did you do the adjusting, exactly? Regression? You wouldn’t happen to have the math stored somewhere that I could look at, would you?

    2. chiguy33 says:

      Incidentally, thanks for the quick reply.

  8. stu lawler says:

    Raj, you really need to get a hobby man.

  9. Chris says:

    Raj I’ve got to agree with sduke and stu, do you have nothing better to do than create spreadsheets and formulas that show why Duke lost a couple games? The bottom line is that we didn’t have any leader on the court besides Rivers, who is a completely selfish player, a trait that I was hoping coach k would help fix if Rivers were to stick around. Coach K did all he could, it came down to us not being able to make shots that Duke teams in the past are known for making, and I have no doubt that this will be fixed next season. We need Mason to stick around to become the leader that we need, if that happens next season we’ll definitely have the potential to make a run.

  10. I read that tony parker article the other day and really his thoughts on duke are like that of mitch mcgary when he opted to go michigan instead of duke that if he plays for duke his entire job will be to take charges and rebounded to kick out to gaurds but that is dead WRONG do you not think we are recruiting the best big men because we are the fact is we arent getting them they are going to the uconns the georgetowns and uncs but that has nothing to do with us being able to develop big men thats just a myth i mean the reason we have had to rely on guard play so much as opposed to having a strong inside game is because the front court talent just isnt there so coach has had to adjust the roles of the bigs and it was pretty successful in 2010 i’d say and as for what parker says in relevance to lance thomas he was never really highly touted coming out of high school only averaging about 14 ppg but look at him now he worked hard made an nba roster and is getting some good minutes in now i will say we should probably have someone else working with the bigs other than coach wojo but we ARE recruiting yhrm they just are going elswhere so we have to work with less talent and if parker is smart he will listen to his mother and go to duke where he is needed i mean with that monster down low there is now way hed be getting rebounds and taking charges but for some reason thats the reputation we have now as of late for big guys and its rather unfortunate just because coach adjusted his game plan the last few years to accommodate the fact that we have less talent down low we have to live with the fact that bigs think we dont know how to use them which is bullcrap i guess sometimes being genius can backfire

    1. schwendem says:

      Your point would come across more clearly if you used punctuation.

  11. Chris says:

    Yeah, the last true big man we had was Shelden Williams and before that Elton Brand. Since then we just haven’t had any sign so we’ve had to try to make forwards into centers, which worked a couple of times because coach K changed up the roles of the center and made it work. If Tony Parker comes to Duke then it could be like the Shelden Williams-Shavlick Randolph duo, with Parker and Mason (if he stays) or Marshall. Combine those big men with Kelly, Curry, and Cook or Dawkins and we could be one of the toughest teams to guard in the country.

  12. So Raj u think you can do a better job huh ? Have you ever stopped to think that the teams out there study our teams and our players and games before us and they are getting better too! Huh ever cross your mind Raj? I think Coach is doing fine and I think he knows what he is doing unless you can show me you
    can do better, I am still a loyal Duke fan and Coach K supporter.

  13. So Raj u think you can do a better job huh ? Have you ever stopped to think that the teams out there study our teams and our players and games before us and they are getting better too! Huh ever cross your mind Raj? I think Coach is doing fine and I think he knows what he is doing unless you can show me you
    can do better, I am still a loyal Duke fan and Coach K supporter.
    Coach takes what he gets and tries to develope it into what makes the best players and teams .

  14. We will be fine next year. we are always at the top and never at the bottom .how many other teams can you say that about year after year! We are very consistent ly successful. We will be back big time next year ! Mark my word! That is the mark of an excellent coach.

  15. You should quit bashing your team and members and coaches or either get a new team or get on board. That would also be nice to hear from them some support! They need to hear support not this crap! So how about it .Fan or not? Get with it! Support or not!

  16. Oh yeah Raj a lot of things look good on paper but show me !

  17. Raj, you are absolutely spot on. I’m a Duke grad and friends and I discussed how Dre is is the worst defender we’ve ever seen wear a Duke uniform. And Tyler Thornton would barely see the floor on the vast majority of the Duke teams of the last 15 years.

    I also think K’s major failure this year was not utilizing 2 big, strong, and athletic big men. We never threw the ball in the post. Yes, Duke has been a perimeter based team for many years, but do people forget that when JJ Redick lead the ACC in scoring, we still had a big man (Shelden Williams) that average 18 or 19 ppg? I feel like the Lehigh game was a microcosm of the whole season–Mason basically dunked the ball every time he touched it and yet when we never gave him the rock!!

    Wojo has to go as the big man coach or no blue chip big men are going to come to Duke.

  18. Re: Li. I tried to adjust for schedule strength by using the kenpom offensive and defensive ratings for each team, but no, I can’t fully adjust for the difference between starters and reserves without getting several years worth of data for this team. That said, if the idea is that because this data is not 100% complete in adjusting for opponent strength, it conveys no useful information, well that seems like a classic case of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    The above disclaimer acknowledged, isn’t it fair to argue that even if Cook is playing against a team’s reserves (and it should be noted there were no blowouts in this sample where Cook was going against walk-ons), the fact remains there is a 16 pt/100 poss gap in Cook and Thornton’s relative performance, which either means that the teams we played have no depth whatsoever between their starters and reserves (and to put it in perspective. 16 pts/100 poss was basically the difference between Duke and Loyola (MD) this year according to KenPom) or that for whatever reasons (not necessarily the ones I listed above) we played better with Cook rather than Thornton on the court.

    As for Andre, his defensive numbers were pretty bad from the beginning of the year. My rationale for why you’d use Gbinije was that in games when Dre wasn’t shooting well, Gbinije should (emphasis: should) be more effective defensively (Dre’s was a low bar to clear) while not surrendering that much offense if Dre wasn’t shooting well.

  19. raj,

    appreciated the article, i think as a duke fan, it’s important not to just go along with status quo because that’s how it is, but to also think about the game more analytically instead of being a blind fan that just loves whatever coach K does because it’s coach K. he is human after all, and definitely can make mistakes.

    the request to see if he can do better is as inane as someone telling a critic to direct a movie better since he didn’t like it. people are allowed to have their opinions about how a team should have come together, and judging on the evidence, raj makes excellent points.

    1. Dustin says:

      Raj,

      I loved this article and your basketball analysis. Coach K is the best in the land and, despite some impressive wins, we were fortunate to be where we were at the end of the season seeded number 2 in the tourney and 13-3 in the ACC. However, our weaknesses: defending the ball, allowing offensive rebounds, feeding the post, and becoming one dimensional on offense (i.e. Austin Rivers driving the the goal with no other thought in mind), were something that I was surprised we never were able to fix. That is atypical of a Coach K team as, in my opinion, he is absolutely one of the best experimenters and developers of individual and team talent in the history of college basketball (see 2010 as a great example) and I was shocked when we had no answers for those flaws (especially defensively). Honestly, despite losing a very quick, confident 15.5 ppg in Rivers, I think our team chemistry and overall basketball performance will improve and I know that K struggled to deal with him throughout the year and was not be surprised, and not overly sad to see him go. Great talent, but confidence and personality were not great fit for team oriented approach. I think his overwhelming swag left other, more subdued talent in the shadows when we needed them (Seth Curry most notably).

      Finally, I cannot believe that Wojo is our coach for the bigs inside. Is this really true? If so, it is not at all a surprise that we 1) can’t recruit top level inside talents, and 2) can’t develop them to their full potential while they are here. As the game changes and guard oriented teams who depend a lot the 3 ball (Duke, Michigan, Missiouri to name a few) are losing early on in the tournament, other teams with quality players inside and drivers who can drive and dish or create easy shots are moving on the the Final Four (Sullinger, Robinson, Davis, Dhieng). This in no way to criticize the talent showcased by the Plumlees, whom at times AMAZE me, and at others leaving me cringing. Having a 4 like Kelly is a great asset too, but if we are to compete we need talent and skill, offensively on the interior. We will need to remedy this if we plan to continue to compete for National Championships.

      Love this blog guys and appreciate the many thoughts as an obsessive Duke fan! I am really hoping for Amile and Trey to join us next year (Bazz too but I don’t think that’s realistic). Mark my words, I really think next year will be an improvement and we will be much more ready to compete in every game (no 20 point blowouts!!) Cook, Murphy and Gbinije will be difference-makers.

  20. When I first read this I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical but the more I went back and thought about the season, I could not agree more. I feel the same way talking to my fellow Duke buddy. We both were at a loss for words to describe how Duke might be next year and I think that is a direct result of what Coach K did or did not do. I am a fan of Dawkins but it is now obvious that he will never be anything more than a straight up jump-shooter. He has little range inside the 3-point line and is a liability on defense. When he was out there, he usually was at SF and we were so much smaller and weaker on D because of that. I am certainly hoping that Alex Murphy turns out to be as good as the hype has been on him because we absolutely need a taller, stronger, and more dynamic guy at the 3-spot.

    We never got to see what this team would look like with Cook running the show which I think is also going to leave a lot of questions at PG going into next year.

    My last big concern is one thing that you did not mention and that is the recruiting “class” of Duke. As it stands we only have Rasheed coming in which I think is a good recruit and he will have a solid career at Duke, but this year more than any other I think it was important for us to go hard after a forward. We lost out on McGary and it looks like we will on Parker as well which will leave us VERY small in the frontcourt and that is incredibly concerning, especially if Mason does not return. That would leave us with MP3, and Kelly as our bigs with Hairston (who just seems nothing better than a McClure type) rounding out the rotation. That is scary. I firmly believe K should have gone even harder after a big this year.

    One bright spot might actually be the entering of the draft of Rivers. I know he is super talented but his game I really don’t think was suited for Coach K’s offensive concepts. There was far too many times where he danced around with the ball where his teammates watched him dribble. The offense looked out of whack all season and the passing of the Devils suffered greatly when compared to the way we ran our offense in past years.

  21. Nice article, Raj!
    I love how these homers get their pants in a wad if you criticize Coach K. No one is disputing he is the best coach out there. He did, however, channel his inner Bobby Knight toward the end of the season and just refuse to adapt. Silent G should have had at least SOME looks. Andre was used WAY too much! Yet some people think the world is falling if every Duke article isn’t some glowing diatribe to what is great in college basketball.
    Once again, nice article!

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