Des Essientes writes:
Just so we're, like, super-clear here: you're talking about Duke University's men's basketball team next year? The one with so many top 30 recruits that a few of them will barely see the court, even if we sign no one else and Mason bolts? That team? Because if you are, Donny, I'm sorry but you're out of your element.
I am talking about that same Duke basketball team and I'm basing it not on the pre-college recruiting rankings of guys like Evan Goodman and Dave Telep, but what I've actually seen on the court. As I've made clear in my other posts, I believe based on what we all saw this year, that we're got a whole lot of questions about next year's team and very, very few sure answers. Most of the hope for this team comes from either (1) sheer faith in the unknown that is Gbinijie and MPIII and to a lesser extent Quinn Cook; and (2) unrealistic hope for improvement from experienced players who are at a point in their careers where big growth leaps just don't happen.
You're right that we've got plenty of talent to be a top 25ish team, but at the beginning of the season, until we prove it, I don't think we are.
I find it hard to believe that you know enough about Marcus Paige to call him more complete than a guy who the best coach in the country decided to start for the second half of the season. As far as his surrounding cast, I would have to disagree as well. In the post, he may get McAdoo back while we may get Mason back. I'd say both seem around equally likely to stay if not Mason has more to stick around for. Additionally, everyone assumes UNC is getting Oriakhi but that is far from a done deal and Duke could easily add either TP or Amile on top of their McD AA from last year. So front court would you rather have Mason/Kelly/Marshall or McAdoo/Oriakhi/James. I'd probably prefer our front court b/c Marshall should be better than James, and b/c of Kelly's versatility. And that appears to be best case scenario for UNC (well apart from them somehow getting Noels) while for Duke could still easily add another body even with the loss of Mason.
As for the back court, well again, I would take Cook who was 31 according to RSCI compared to Paige who is 29 according to RSCI and a year behind. I think Cook is the key to our offense. That said, UNC has two guards who are coming off ACL injuries and Dexter had his occur in late January so it is unclear if he would be ready to start the season. So there are two big question marks for this team. But both teams will need their back courts to do a lot more but Duke has guys returning like Curry who have had to shoulder the load a lot more than Bullock and Hairston. Duke also has more versatility with Sheed, Dre, Curry, TT, and Gbinije than UNC where Bullock and Hairston seem to be identical players and McDonald not far behind. Overall, UNC might have a slight edge for the other 4 positions but I'll take a guy who had a 3.5 A/TO ratio in his freshmen year over an unproven guard going into a system that relies and may not have a dominant big man.
I know enough about Tyler Thornton's offense to know that Marcus Paige is a more complete player. Much of what you write besides veers into a best case for Duke, worst case for Carolina. I'm not counting on Strickland in saying I think Paige would be playing with a better backcourt. Limited as they are, Bullock and Hairston are bigger, stronger and more athletic. Both have more room for growth in their games than our returning guards (save Cook). We add Sheed, who I like a great deal, but they add Tokoto to the mix. Even if James/Plumlee is a wash, if Carolina brings back McAdoo, they bring back the best player either team returns. With him, they're clearly better. Without, it's much closer.
I agree, for what it's worth, Cook is the key to our offense next year. With the skill sets that Andre and Seth have, they are a lot more effective when they have someone who can create for them. Cook's clearly the guy who brings that potential to the table. We have to have him playing well and playing a lot next year. Some caution: as good as his stats were last year, he couldn't crack the rotation with any sort of significant contribution and he couldn't beat out Tyler Thornton. Cook's defense has to improve a ton, and I think he's also got to get his knee fully and finally right. Counting on him in projecting the team is a gamble, because despite our need for his skills this year, he couldn't break into the rotation and give us what we need.
I've seen Katz's top 25, and I think that in addition to the 14 he's got ahead of us, Texas, Creighton, Gonazaga, Wisconsin, VCU, SD St and UNLV should be ranked ahead of us. That puts us 21, at best, in my poll. And there are a lot of teams that would merit consideration, at least, as being ahead of us. Maybe we've got a little more upside than some of those teams thanks to Cook, G, Sheed, Murphy and MPIII, but right now, that's a lot of unknowns and what are knowns aren't good enough to merit ranking in my opinion.