Okay... so are people comparing what people THOUGHT the 2003-4 team would be to what the 2008-9 team could be... or what the 2003-4 team WAS to what 2008-9 could be?
2003-4 had Shelden/Shav/Thompson average 21.9pts/13.3rbds/4.9blks. If this year's team averages that in the post (Duke 5 position), then I feel comfortable that they will be looked at as a VERY STRONG Final 4 contender entering the tourney. How likely is that, though? The other 4 positions could end up evening out to be relatively close on the two teams (with backups included). Down low, though? I hope they end up similar, but it will take some solid improvement.
The biggest problem with this comparison is that no one can look past the names "Redick" & "Williams" on 2004. If we're honest about it, we can say that those two were nowhere near the level of greatness they achieved by their senior (and to a lesser extent junior) seasons.
For me, Duhon and Deng are the names that stand out to me as unparralled in the comparison between the two teams.
Bluedog, I'd take the 03-04 team over the 05-06 team and the main reason is because of Luol Deng who was a HUGE difference maker. On the 03-04 team you had several capable scorers whereas on the 05-06 team we were just way too reliant on JJ and Shel.
jimsumner makes an excellent point as to why it's impossible to compare the two teams (because performance for the 03-04 team is known whereas the future is uncertain for our current team). But if you HAD to compare...come on, can anyone with a straight face say you'd take Scheyer as he is now instead of JJ, one of the all-time great scorers in college basketball??
Disagree about JJ, at least as far as over his career. By his senior year he was doing EVERYTHING with the ball; his ability to drive and finish was, at times, breathtaking. He certainly was not just a three point shooter by the end. Frosh and Soph year, maybe, but he really grew.
"All five starters wer awesome that season--you can't get to a Final Four otherwise. Shav was possibly the most effective player in the tournament that year."
Excluding the Alabama State game, Shav averaged 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in the 2004 NCAAs. That includes a 15-minute, 3-point game against Xavier in the regional finals. I'm pretty sure that he wasn't Duke's most effective player in the NCAAs.
I'm also pretty sure that all five Duke starters weren't awesome that year, at least as I would define the term. If Ewing was awesome in '04, then so were Nelson, Singler, Paulus, and Scheyer last year, with Henderson as a maybe.
It's nice to have five awesome players but lots of Duke teams have made Final Fours without five awesome starters, unless we're including Bilas in '86, Snyder in '88 and '89, Hurley in '90 (35.7 fg%, 4.4 topg), Koubek '91, and Capel '94 et. al. as awesome, in which case the term pretty much loses meaning).
Look, the '09 Duke team isn't likely to be perfect. But perfect teams don't come around very often and a Final Four is a realistic goal for imperfect but talented teams, which this one promises to be. The NCAA Tournament is likely to be the measuring stick but the NCAA Tournament is a crap shoot, in which the best teams don't always win. I think the WVU game has caused some to forget how good Duke was last year and how good they can be this year.
I trust we can all agree that it should be fun to find out.
Of course I would take JJ as a junior and senior, but that's not what we're talking about.
And you're right about imperfect teams.....didn't Marty Clarke and Alla Abdelnabey (sp?) contribute quite a bit to some successful teams? Those guys were far from awesome......
Compare Jon's accomplishments thus far with JJ's halfway through his career. They are not so far apart. Still, I'm awestruck how many are failing to distinguish between JJ as a senior and JJ in 03-04, which is all that is relevant to this thread.
"JJ's jersey is in the rafters because of his accomplishments on the court. Scheyer's won't be. There's probably a reason for it."
Sure. But J.J.'s jersey isn't in the rafters because of what he did in 2004, which was the original reference point. J.J. averaged 15.9 ppg and was second-team All-ACC in 2004. He had 58 assists and 70 turnovers that year. Scheyer's not likely to score that much but I suspect he won't be too far short. And Scheyer is a better ball-handler and defender than Redick was that year. The success that Redick had in 2005 and 2006 bears no relevance to the comparision with 2004. I don't think equating '09 Scheyer to '04 Redick requires any leaps of faith or logic.
I would say Ewing in '04 was awesome, as were Nelson, Paulus, Singler, and Scheyer last year. Maybe "solid" is a word you are more comfortable with. Ewing in '04 was definitely more solid and dependable for his position than Lance Thomas or Brian Zoubek were last season.
I don't think it's a reach to predict Zoubek will be "solid" next year - I don't think he'll be awesome. He well could be worse than any starter on the 03-04 team. But I think next year's team might overall have slightly better talent at this pre-season point.
All of that could be moot, though, as I mentioned before, as the 04 team had more potential at the two most important position: PG and C.
Here are Randolph's stats from the 2004 NCAA Tournament
Alabama State 25 minutes, 20 points, 8 rebounds
Seton Hall 17 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds
Illinois, 12 minutes, 7 points, 3 rebounds
Xavier, 15 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds
UConn, 14 minutes, 13 points, 6 rebounds
Inasmuch as Duke led Alabama State by 21 at the half on the way to a 35-point win, I'm not sure how high in the pantheon we place Shav based on this game. Mop-up minutes. He played very well against the Huskies, excluding the five fouls in 14 minutes part, which opens up another whole can of worms (several actually). His other three games were distinctly unremarkable. Solid bench performances, nothing more, nothing less.
Now let's look at Mr. Deng. 88 points in 5 games, including a game-high 19 in a nail-biter win over Xavier. Regional MVP. And yes, 16 points and 12 boards against Calhoun's guys; 37 rebounds for the tournament, 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds per game;
Shelden had 59 points, 43 rebounds, Duhon 27 assists.
I don't recall K saying that Randolph had the best NCAAT except for Okafor but if he did, he was mistaken. The facts simply don't support that view.
JJ was one of the most exciting players I ever watched at Duke. His number is retired because (i) he was a phenomenal (perhaps peerless) shooter, and just as importantly (ii) he played 4 years. Additionally, his ability greatly improve AFTER 2004, when he committed himself to improving his conditioning and physical shape. Only then did his numbers expand dramatically.
Comapring JJ and Scheyer in a vacuum is a bit unfair becuase this year's team will have many other talented wings to contribute and give the team what JJ provided. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Scheyer will be in better shape, a better defender, and a more versatile threat this year than JJ was in 2003-2004. Scheyer has great game experience, starting virtually all games as a frosh and playing huge minutes as a sparkplug 6th man last year. To the extent that JJ's shooting madse him a better player (which is debatable), Scheyer's bench support (assuming he starts) evens out this position.
I'll take Singler over Deng, but that is very close. Singler has a full year under his belt. Both are incredibly talented and are very similar players in my view.
Ewing did not contribute anything that Henderson, Smith and others cannot provide. He was a solid player, but still a role player in my view.
The trickier comparisons are at PG and C. Duhon was very talented, but not a phenomenal playmaker or shooter IIRC -- defense was his trademark. Duhon was a warrior and great leader by his senior year, but he did not create like JWill or even Avery). This year, if one of Smith or Williams or Henderson becomes a great defender I do not think we lose much at this position.
Similarly, Shel was incredibly rough on offense his first several years. He provided defense. I would rather take him than our current C by committee. But as the 2004 Final Four proved, the committee is nice to have when foul trouble arises. This year we will have great depth, which we did not have in 2004.
At the end of the day, the only advantages I see in the 2004 team are more established defensive players at the PG and C. These are critical assets to have. That said, one could argue that our team last year (at least until the year-end collapse) was one of the really great defensive Duke teams. I'd like to see the defensive statistical comparisons between the two teams we are comparing.
In any event, our team defense should be BETTER this year -- I will take a years worth of experience in K's system and an influx of new athletes over the loss of Markie (even though he was great). If that is the case, then there is no reason why the comparison to our 2004 is not fair and the Final Four cannot be a realistic goal for this team.
Our post-by-committee could and should provide good defense next year though. Zoubek can be a good defender on post guys, and LT is a good defender at the 4. Plumlee's height should give him an advantage. Nobody will be as able a defender as Shelden though.