Coach K says that Duke was "limited" without Ryan Kelly-- how is that Duke got to such a state, after the loss of just one decently good player? UNC, Syracuse, Louisville, and Michigan State all managed to win at least two games in the tournament, despite the loss of at least one key player... it does not feel like Duke should be left in such a vulnerable position, after the loss of just one good player (who did not even start all of Duke's games this year).
It feels to me like Duke is experiencing another lull in its capabilities, due to some unfortunate setbacks in recruiting... much like the 2007 and 2008 teams had problems, due to some players not being able to play at the level necessary for Duke to be a realistic competitor for national championships. Other coaches perceive Coach K and Duke as being able to simply name which players they want, and they get them-- putting aside the accuracy of this urban legend, it is clear that Duke gets considerably more top players than Lehigh (or even Arizona), so the losses of the last two years give the feeling of substantive underperformance by the players that Duke did manage to get.
Dan Dakich (famous for his defensive performance on Michael Jordan, despite his Indiana team being allegedly overmatched against the reputed finest team in the land, back in 1984) says that Austin Rivers was the most notable underperformer in this tournament, and that Duke was the biggest disappointment in the tournament (and Dakich says that he is a "huge Duke fan")-- and he bases that assessment on the fact that even without Ryan Kelly, Duke still had far, far more talent on the floor than Lehigh, and thus had no business losing that game. Dakich pointed out that Duke's guards (and Rivers in particular) had no idea how (or at least no intention in that game) to get the ball to their big men on the pick and roll play that was the central staple of Duke's offense this year-- how do we get to this point in the season with that being the case?
How do we get to this point where Duke has several guards who have spent 3 years in the program, and still have no ability to play decent on-the-ball defense on their man? How did we get to this point where Duke has a number of players who have spent 3-4 years in the program who still do not understand the need, let alone the proper method, for boxing out opponents on defensive rebounding situations? How did we get to this point where our most athletic big men, who have spent 3-4 years in the program, still do not have the kind of footwork, clarity of decision-making, and low post moves that would allow them to regularly (not once in a blue moon) get off coordinated, balanced, high percentage shots from low block before they are double-teamed (a` la Mark Alarie, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Shelden Williams)?
Duke fans need to face the fact that Duke is trying to compete at the highest level right now, with some players that pretty obviously are trying to punch above their weight. Given that we hear all the time that Coach K can get the majority of the players that he goes after, one has to wonder: why has he gone after some of these players? I am not interested in seeing Coach K bringing in the same kind of players that Calipari brings in to Kentucky (DeMarcus Cousins strikes me as a bad apple, all the way around), but certainly some of the players they are bringing in are ones that Duke wanted (do John Wall and Patrick Patterson ring any bells?)... but I don't see Calipari trying to compete at the highest level with his gun loaded with rubber bullets... it took UNC losing THREE backcourt players to injury, before Roy Williams had to resort to a player that is at the level of several players that played substantial minutes for Duke all year this year.
Why are we going down this road again that didn't work out in the mid-2000's? Certainly, Coach K should be able to hold his own with Roy Williams and John Calipari and Jim Boeheim, in the recruiting wars-- but on the latest evidence, Duke appears to have settled for some players that are probably not sufficiently talented to play for those schools. I know that people are going to bring up one-year players, like Kyrie Irving (and Austin Rivers?), and certainly, the addition of Kyrie Irving to this team would have changed its entire complexion-- I think Duke would have been one of the national title favorites all year, and would likely still be playing... but it was known from the outset last year that Kyrie was not likely coming back this year (as it was with Rivers this year), and yet Duke really does not seem to have had an even halfway suitable replacement in the queue for either of those players. Contrast that situation with Kentucky, which has lost at least as much talent as Duke has the last couple of years, and yet Kentucky appears unphased by its early departures, as Calipari is stacking up top-ranked (and top-performing) recruits year after year, like firewood for the winter. Why is the most successful college (and arguably, international pro) coach seeming to settle for recruits whose talents do not appear to allow him to reach his stated ambition of competing for a national championship every year? (I'll leave the topic of whether his coaching staff appears to have the demonstrated ability to quickly, efficiently, consistently develop the low-post offensive moves of big men for another day.)
I will throw this one bone to Duke, on the deflating way that this season ended-- I kept hearing today that "it was a shame that Syracuse had to compete without Fab Melo, and that UNC had to compete without Kendall Marshall, and that Michigan State had to compete without one of their key players who went down with a knee injury recently, because those are all top-ranked teams that could have made a championship run, but for the loss of that one player"-- but not once did I hear anyone say that it was a shame that Duke lost Ryan Kelly just before the tournament started, seeing as they had been a likely #1 seed, before his loss probably cost them the loss to Florida State in the ACC tournament (and thus their shot at a #1 seed)... what's fair is fair, and perhaps Duke-haters should take a short break from their gloating over Duke's loss to Lehigh, and recognize that Duke suffered a loss that was probably at least the equal of Michigan State's and Syracuse's losses, if not UNC's (which to be fair, actually lost 3 players, not one)...
chill out. we were pretty good this year, and there is a lot of talent on the roster. things change pretty quickly in college basketball. theres no reason to think duke won't be back up to your standards in the near future
The difference between Duke and other three teams stated in this thread is those other three teams still had length and athleticism to overcome deficits and win. On the other hand, the last time I saw athletic wings on the same Duke team was when Henderson and Elliott Williams were the on the floor at the same time.
If we had lengthy and atheltic wings, loss of Ryan Kelly would have hurt less. Those qualities can make up for all the clanking three point shots. I sure hope Michael Gbnije brings much needed athleticism to next years team.
The fact is this was a very good team and many contributors to Duke's teams throughout the years were not used much as freshman. I see no reason why the freshman will not develop both offensively and defensively and get K's trust. Personally, I think Quinn Cook will be even more important next year to get a true PG out there but we have a very talented roster as it stands now.
Good point for this read. Shane Ryan the writer of this analysis I believe went to Duke.
Duke is the BAD part of the story.
I think it all boils down of the inability to recruit enough talent to make Duke strong at every position.
Austin made great strides this year in many phases of his game. No one can ever accuse him of not bringing it in any of our games. He has been nothing but class and has had nothing but the highest compliments for Duke University, Coach K, the Crazies and our fans in general.
No one is claiming Austin's game is fully developed, certainly not Austin himself, and no doubt he will drive to improve himself in passing and court vision and other areas.
I say good luck to him whether he does that at Duke or in the NBA.
As for not being awe-inspiring, I think we can put that one to rest, by virtue of the fact that all season Duke was being dismissed as the highly ranked (and likely high-seeded) team most likely to lose early, with the alarmingly unintelligent Doug Gottlieb, Digger Phelps, Dick Vitale, and Jimmy Dykes all voicing the sentiment during the season that Duke would be ripe for a first-round upset, depending on the matchup, and whether Duke was making three-pointers. Notice how quickly, after the loss in the ACC tournament, Duke went from being a potential #1 seed, to the lowest ranked of the #2 seeds (paired with top seed Kentucky) in the estimation of the NCAA tournament committee... I don't think this Duke team struck much fear into opponents this year-- shock and awe was in short supply, when compared with the great Duke teams of the Coach K era.
I feel like recruiting is only one part of the story. The other is that Duke's teams have not played with a tradition 1-5. This year we didn't have a small forward and we didn't really have a powerforward (both Plumlees are college centers). We basically played with 2 shooting guards, two centers, and a "point guard" if you can call him that.
In 2009 we played Lance Thomas as a center. In 2008 it was worse. The only time in the last 7-8 years we've had anything that's looked like a true 1-5 is in 2010 where Scheyer was the point. We overcame this mainly because Nolan guarded the point, while Scheyer could initiate the offense.
I just think Duke is a lot better when we have a true small forward, a true athletic power forward (Mason doesn't count, he's a college center), a true point guard, a true center ect. I think that has a lot to do with our team's failures to gel and peak at the right time, than recruiting does.
The fact is that Duke hasn't been losing to the North Carolina's and Kentucky's in the tournament. Duke has been losing to Lehigh's, VCU's, West Virginia's, teams that they have no business losing to.
Coach K needs to start recruiting positions, not players as he likes to say. Of all the perennial powers in College basketball, Duke seems the most likely to fade in March. We have serious matchup problems in the NCAA tournament, because Coach K likes to recruit "players". How about recruiting quicker guards and forwards and centers that have their fundamentals together before they enroll at Duke.
I heard we were spreading the net, but for 2012 we only have Sulaimon thus far. We may luck out with Bazz or Jefferson or Parker.Or we might get Zeigler or Oriahki. Most of the leaders in recruiting aren't clutching at straws like Duke.
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I guess I'm wearing rose colored glasses this morning. Yes, it is embarrassing to lose to Lehigh this year (Missouri, another 2 seed got bumped as well this year). We're all certainly bummed about it. But if I'm not mistaken just two years ago Duke had a pretty good run in the tournament and beat some pretty good teams.
I wouldn't use this year's UNC and Kentucky teams as baselines. Even those two programs don't have 4 or 5 lottery picks every year.
Yes, Duke hasn't recruited as well as those guys (but it's certainly not for lack of effort). Let's hope that changes with future classes. If not, I'll still enjoy Duke basketball.
There are a few unique obstacles that are important to consider with Duke and Coach K's recruiting process.
1) Does the recruit have the grades/test scores to qualify academically? This alone I think eliminates a lot of players from being pursued.
2) Assuming they can get a player in academically, will they be able to cut it in the classroom once they are here and stay eligible to play?
3) Is the recruit willing to accept no guarantees of playing time, shots per game etc.? Are they a team player?.
4) Do they have baggage on or off the court to deal with. Basically are they a good person who is easy to get along with and WANTS to be coached by K and his staff. Do they have parents, family members, friends, AAU coaches , agent runners and others in their ear trying to maximize their draft status.
5) Do they WANT to come to Duke? There are simply some guys who would never come to Duke no matter what was offered to them. A lot of the negative stereotypes don't help I am sure. There's the whole Duke hate thing you know. The Fab Five documentary perpetuating the absurd uncle Tom myth. Duke can't develop big men etc., etc.,. Don't think coaches from other schools don't exploit these things.
The staff wants great players as much as we do I am sure. It is just not as simple as some may think.
I certainly can't disagree with anything Ryan says. In essence, the message is that the 2010 team was the exception that confirms the rule in that they came together in a way that absolutely no one expected (including Olek), but that other recent teams have not been nearly as good at the end of the season. IIRC, Duke is 1-4 in its last five sweet sixteens; this year's flameout was an absolute stunner and 2007 wasn't far behind.
The problem is not recruiting per se. If we concentrate on big men (since they are featured prominently in the story), McBob and Mason were supposed to be all world, but they never developed fully. This year's team was loaded with Mickey D's, but didn't strike fear into anyone's hearts the last half of the season (11 games with 80 or more points in December and January, and only once in February and March). I don't know how anyone can predict who will develop and who will not, but our yield rate is obviously way down.
But I remain optimistic that we have a core of talented players and new guys coming in who, if they jell in a way that this year's team did not, will do some damage late in the season.
Agree. I think teams kind of figured us out late in the season, and we didn't/couldn't respond. In the end, given the personnel limitations of this team, they did O.K. overall, but filling some of these holes will help a lot in the future.I just think Duke is a lot better when we have a true small forward, a true athletic power forward (Mason doesn't count, he's a college center), a true point guard, a true center ect. I think that has a lot to do with our team's failures to gel and peak at the right time, than recruiting does.