Additional skill, experience, and confidence could make for a very good player. Go, Nolan!
Skills: handle esp key to his looming PG duties.
Experience: feel for game gotta be better.
Confidence: I'm guessing K says to Nolan, straight up: "You gotta play good, no meek crap." [Doesn't K have a way with words?]
Come back, Nolan!
Good stuff from Nolan "the escalade" Smith.
2009-2010 can't come soon enough.
I think it's a matter of confidence with Nolan.
When you look at last season, you see a guy who started strong -- with a lot of confidence. Remember, he beat out Greg Paulus for the point guard job in preseason, then started the season strong.
Through Duke's first 10 games, Nolan averaged 12.3 points and 2.2 assists and was a defensive force. That included 16 points, 4 assists in the victory over Michigan in MSG and 12 points, 2 assists in both the big win at Purdue and the loss at Michigan.
At that point, his offense began to fluxuate -- 4 points against Xavier ... 13 against VPI ... 4 against Davidson ... 12 at FSU. As he struggled on offense, Nolan seemed to lose some focus on defense. It wasn't an abupt collapse, but more like a long, slow decline. There were still some bright moments in there, but by the time the offense as a whole collapsed at Clemson (with Smith contributing 3 points, no assists), it was obvious that something had to be done.
The brief switch to Paulus at the point, followed by the switch to Scheyer running the show left Smith in limbo. He simply did not play well in the six games after his benching -- he didn't play well offensively or defensively.
That stretch ended when he ran into Dave Neal in College Park and suffered a concussion. He missed the last three games of the ACC season.
He came back for the ACC Tournament and after kind of a tentative outing against BC, was spectacular off the bench in the wins over Maryland and FSU. He played great off the bench in the first two games of the NCAA Tournament. Then, like everybody else on the team, he had a poor showing against Villanova.
Still, I know it's a small sample size, but for a four-game stretch from the Maryland ACC win to the Texas win, Smith was the player we hoped he'd be -- 10 points, 3.0 assists ... a strong on-the-ball defender.
That's the Nolan Smith I hope to see this season. I do think his strong off-season work ethic will pay dividends. I think he's still learning to play the point guard spot (at prep school he played wing guard alongside Ty Lawson and Brandon Jennings).
Now, he'll never be a Hurley clone, passing out 6 of 7 assists a game, but I think he can be a useful third or fourth scoring option, a good ballhandler and -- most importantly -- a kicka** defender.
And keep in mind that K has built Final Four teams without a traditional point guard (1988 and 1989 with Quin Snyder at the point; 1994 with Jeff Capel at the point).
I don't expect Smith to suddenly become a playmaking PG like Lawson. But I hope he can become a consistent double-digit scorer and a guy capable of getting to the rim fairly consistently - drawing fouls and getting some assists. And most importantly, I hope he can become a defensive stopper at the PG position.
I'd be psyched if he averaged ~12 ppg and ~3 apg next year for us and played 30+ mpg. If he can be a consistent presence for us on the offensive and defensive end, that'll be a huge contribution. I think the development of Smith and Williams is as important as just about anybody next year - probably even moreso than the big guys.
Smith is not a traditional point guard in the sense that he does not look or create for others. He has averaged one assist per game for his career. He is, however, an excellent all around offensive player and an above average defender. He reminds me of Ewing and I expect he will have a very good year this coming season as a point/off guard combination.
A minor disagreement with Olympic. Quin Snyder would occasionally make an errant pass to the crowd but, IMO, he was a traditional point guard. During his final two years he averaged over 6 assists per game, had an a/TO greater than 2 and guarded the other team's point guard.
Grant Hill averaged better than 5 assists per game. I'm hopeful that Nolan can provide something like Sean Dockery or Dan Ewing this season. If he blossoms into a real PG or if someone else can take the Grant Hill role as a point-forward we can consider that issue addressed, but, IMO, somebody would have to show us something they haven't even hinted at thus far. This will be an unusual team by any measure, but especially in light of Duke's history of great point play. I'm very interested to see how things shake out.
No offense to Dockery, but I'm hoping Smith provides a lot more than Dockery provided offensively.
"He was a solid defender "
i thought dock got beat off the dribble a lot his senior year. making a swipe at the ball, getting beat and putting the defense into a bad rotation.
Dock (specialty defender who could hit the open three) at one end and Dan (nominal PG with a lot of offensive punch) at the other.
That said, Dock's numbers may surprise you. As a Sr, and on a team with most shots running through JJ and Shel, he put up 7 points, 3 rebounds, and better than 2.5 assists with a 2/1 a/to ratio. So far Nolan is averaging 1.5 assists with just about the same number of TO's. Dock is, by the numbers, a significantly better PG than Nolan.
For comparison, Dan averaged 2.1 assists with 1.8 TO's. As a Sr his assists jumped to 4 but his TO's also jumped up to about 3. Dan dished it out better, but turned it over about twice as much as Sean. Of course Dan also scored about twice as much (15.3).
All of this is to say that Nolan (8.4 and 1.5) can be expected to fit somewhere between Sean (if his assists go up and his O remains what it is) and Dan (if his scoring goes way up and his assists get a bit better). Time will tell.
Those were two of the dumbest, worst written articles ever posted on this site...
It's a lot easier to put up a nice assist/turnover ratio when you aren't the primary ballhandler and playmaker. For comparison, note Smith's stats late this season when he moved off the ball for the last six games (13 assists, 4 turnovers).
Thus, I'll be disappointed if that's all Smith brings to the table next year. I expect much more productivity offensively from Smith than Dockery provided, but not as much as Ewing did as a senior. But I hope his productivity is much closer to Ewing than Dockery.
I also very much hope that his productivity is closer to Dan's, but I wanted to stress that a) he isn't there yet (and sadly we've seen several players not improve or even regress in the last few seasons) and b) that still doesn't really fix our PG issues. I'd definitely take Dan's Jr year numbers in a heartbeat (esp. the 41% from 3).
I'm not hopeful that Smith can provide something like Dockery. I'll consider that a lack of progress from Smith. I'm hopeful that he can produce something like a watered-down version of Ewing (in other words: a bit less scoring, but otherwise the same).
Also, congrats on Jeff Mullins.