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View Full Version : "Duke Underrated" by Al Featherston



Lord Ash
10-17-2012, 09:24 PM
Just wanted someplace to say that this was, as usual, a great piece. Thoughtful, detailed, and as always featuring a few great previously-unknown-to-me tidbits from Duke, ACC, and indeed basketball history. And to be honest, no need for the disclaimer, I don't think!:)

Anyway, thanks for such great contributions to all things Duke, to both DBR and Al himself! Now just waiting on the Playcallers first piece!:)

Greg_Newton
10-17-2012, 09:49 PM
Featherston*. No idea how everyone gets this wrong so consistently. :p

Agreed though, I was going to post something similar but wasn't sure if it was already being discussed. I always enjoy his articles, and this one was particularly good. Hard not to get pumped up for the season reading it!

jimsumner
10-17-2012, 09:52 PM
Featherston*. No idea how everyone gets this wrong so consistently. :p!

I believe Al was an original member of The Flintstones cast.

Wander
10-17-2012, 11:12 PM
I think Cook will be really improved this year, but the piece about Coach K making due with only combo guards since Duhon is off. Here are some remarks from recruiting websites:

"A consummate point guard, Paulus makes everyone around him better. He can get the ball anywhere on the court at will, either on the pass or the dribble."

"One of the true floor generals in the class. Noted for his defense, Dockery has been on the high-major hitlist since his freshman year."

These guys weren't considered combo guards. And if the comeback is going to be "well, fine, but they didn't pan out to be great point guards," then I'm going to have to call in Jumbo to count Scheyer in the opposite direction - didn't come in a point guard, but ended up a damn good one.

I think Quinn's improvement is already factored into our ranking.

gep
10-18-2012, 12:47 AM
These guys weren't considered combo guards. And if the comeback is going to be "well, fine, but they didn't pan out to be great point guards," then I'm going to have to call in Jumbo to count Scheyer in the opposite direction - didn't come in a point guard, but ended up a damn good one.

I think I've seen this question before... but anyone know the goings-on with Jumbo? Haven't heard from him in awhile? I miss his stuff... :cool:

Kedsy
10-18-2012, 01:01 AM
I think Cook will be really improved this year, but the piece about Coach K making due with only combo guards since Duhon is off. Here are some remarks from recruiting websites:

"A consummate point guard, Paulus makes everyone around him better. He can get the ball anywhere on the court at will, either on the pass or the dribble."

"One of the true floor generals in the class. Noted for his defense, Dockery has been on the high-major hitlist since his freshman year."

These guys weren't considered combo guards. And if the comeback is going to be "well, fine, but they didn't pan out to be great point guards," then I'm going to have to call in Jumbo to count Scheyer in the opposite direction - didn't come in a point guard, but ended up a damn good one.

I think Quinn's improvement is already factored into our ranking.

You can make the argument that we haven't had a traditional two-way "Duke" PG since Duhon. Scheyer didn't guard the opposing PG. Paulus was a below-average defender. Dockery couldn't really run the offense. Nolan Smith was a shoot-first guard. It remains to be seen whether Quinn can guard opposing PGs, but if he can, I agree with Mr. Featherston that he'll be our first "real" PG since 2004 (other than 8 games with Kyrie).

budwom
10-18-2012, 07:47 AM
Should we be concerned by the comment at the end of the article which says K and MP2 have "formed a special bomb?"
Will Homeland Security become involved?

HaveFunExpectToWin
10-18-2012, 08:44 AM
Should we be concerned by the comment at the end of the article which says K and MP2 have "formed a special bomb?"
Will Homeland Security become involved?

Carrie was right, they are both working for Abu Nazir.

gumbomoop
10-18-2012, 10:15 AM
As a perpetual optimist re Duke's chances to go deep in the NCAAT, I agree with Featherston's overall thesis, and very much appreciate the detailed analysis. Like a number of excellent posters on EK, he knows this team, uh, inside and out. He definitely tells us a lot more in his article than most any other analytical piece we're likely to see preseason on any national site. Details, details, details, good stuff.

As to the question posed in his title - "Is Duke Underrated?" - it depends on where the preseason prognosticators rate Duke. Yes, it's "all guesswork right now," but some guesswork is more informed - "educated," not to put too fine a point on it - than others. It's not a good educated guess to put Duke at, say, 17. A better educated guess, given one's understanding of the 50 or 60 pretty good teams out there, might be 7-10. Which is probably where the consensus will place Duke, exemplified by the ESPN/USA Today coaches preseason poll, where Duke is #8.

Featherston's most controversial statement is probably this: "I believe that Duke has on paper the best team in the ACC and is as strong a championship contender as there is nationally not the favorite, but at least as good as Indiana, Louisville or any of the other candidates being offered a preseason No. 1 teams." He defends this presumably controversial statement by arguing that sometimes there's a more "realistic" case to be made for an optimistic scenario than for a pessimistic prognostication.

His analysis in support of his assertion that Duke is a legit NC contender - as legit as IU or UL, the consensus 1-2 in either order - focuses on what he knows that others seem not to know so much: the details of Duke's team.

I'd add that, while they're are fine teams out there, and UL and IU make sense - educated-guess-wise- as 1-2, there are no, zero, on-paper-likely-great teams. No team this year starts with the look of maybe-greatness as did UNC, tOSU, and UK last October. [And, btw, that includes this season's UK, which returns but a single UK-experienced player, compared to last October's Cats, who returned a very valuable senior glue-guy and 2 very good sophs. I realize that Harrow and Mays may be solid, but UK is not quite the near-lock-to-go-deep as last year.]

Duke at 15 is no different from Duke at 8, or 6, or 11. For that matter Duke at 8 is no different from KU at 7 or NCSt at 6 or UNC at 12 or Memphis at 16. The early-season games will obviously provide big challenges. The certainty of playing UK, tOSU, and maybe Memphis and UL will test the Devils, and Featherston's optimism.

roywhite
10-18-2012, 10:21 AM
I'd add that, while they're are fine teams out there, and UL and IU make sense - educated-guess-wise- as 1-2, there are no, zero, on-paper-likely-great teams. No team this year starts with the look of maybe-greatness as did UNC, tOSU, and UK last October. [And, btw, that includes this season's UK, which returns but a single UK-experienced player, compared to last October's Cats, who returned a very valuable senior glue-guy and 2 very good sophs. I realize that Harrow and Mays may be solid, but UK is not quite the near-lock-to-go-deep as last year.]



Just a note on your point about UK. Watched the Kentucky All-Access practice coverage on ESPN-U. If I understood correctly, Calipari said they don't have a single returning player who started even one game last year.

Talk about annual team building.

Kedsy
10-18-2012, 10:33 AM
Just a note on your point about UK. Watched the Kentucky All-Access practice coverage on ESPN-U. If I understood correctly, Calipari said they don't have a single returning player who started even one game last year.

Talk about annual team building.

That is true, but they do have Kyle Wiltjer, who played 11+ minutes a game, so gumbo's point about them having a single "UK-experienced" player is accurate.

gumbomoop
10-18-2012, 10:59 AM
I'd add that, while they're are fine teams.....

I'll further add that, as an intermittent member of the grammar-spelling police, I am mortified by gumbomoop's truly unforgivable mistake. The above should read: "... while there are fine teams...."

Should he/she/it attempt to claim a mere typo, don't buy it. He/she/it screwed up, and deserves your scorn. For this reason, among others we might list.

jimsumner
10-18-2012, 11:51 AM
I'll further add that, as an intermittent member of the grammar-spelling police, I am mortified by gumbomoop's truly unforgivable mistake. The above should read: "... while there are fine teams...."

Should he/she/it attempt to claim a mere typo, don't buy it. He/she/it screwed up, and deserves your scorn. For this reason, among others we might list.

I think your being to hard. Its a common eror.

NSDukeFan
10-18-2012, 12:12 PM
I think your being to hard. Its a common eror.

Your off by a bit. Its err.

jimsumner
10-18-2012, 12:19 PM
Your off by a bit. Its err.

Lets knot goe their.

johnb
10-18-2012, 12:31 PM
Just wanted someplace to say that this was, as usual, a great piece. Thoughtful, detailed, and as always featuring a few great previously-unknown-to-me tidbits from Duke, ACC, and indeed basketball history. And to be honest, no need for the disclaimer, I don't think!:)

Anyway, thanks for such great contributions to all things Duke, to both DBR and Al himself! Now just waiting on the Playcallers first piece!:)

I agree. His writings are consistently terrific.

As for being underrated, I'd say # 8 would be about right if that means that our over/under would be to lose in a regional final. Worse than that would be a let down. Better than that (ie, a final four) would be a pleasant surprise (ok, it's also an annual expectation, but there have been other Duke teams where I'd have been stunned to lose before the final four, and this wouldn't be one of them).

Wander
10-18-2012, 12:50 PM
You can make the argument that we haven't had a traditional two-way "Duke" PG since Duhon. Scheyer didn't guard the opposing PG. Paulus was a below-average defender. Dockery couldn't really run the offense. Nolan Smith was a shoot-first guard. It remains to be seen whether Quinn can guard opposing PGs, but if he can, I agree with Mr. Featherston that he'll be our first "real" PG since 2004 (other than 8 games with Kyrie).

But we're putting ourselves into an awfully small box if a "real Duke" point guard is someone who was recruited as a pure point, never played combo guard, was a good defender who almost always guarded the opposing PG, was a pass-first guy, and so on, aren't we? If we're going to say that Duke hasn't had a "real point guard" since 2004, then, given all the success we've had since then, I'd argue the idea that Coach K teams suddenly go to another level with a true point is a complete myth.

I'm not saying Cook's improvement won't be an important part of the team - it's better to have a really good point guard than not, and it's better to have someone who can be a "true" point guard on the roster than not. But when you're as flexible with your system as K is from year to year, you can say the same thing to about the same degree with the words "center" or "shooting guard."

If you want to see an actual example of a program that's dependent on a "true" point to work, look eight miles down the road and two and a half years ago.

Kedsy
10-18-2012, 01:16 PM
But we're putting ourselves into an awfully small box if a "real Duke" point guard is someone who was recruited as a pure point, never played combo guard, was a good defender who almost always guarded the opposing PG, was a pass-first guy, and so on, aren't we? If we're going to say that Duke hasn't had a "real point guard" since 2004, then, given all the success we've had since then, I'd argue the idea that Coach K teams suddenly go to another level with a true point is a complete myth.

I suppose, although personally I wouldn't include how they were recruited or what position they played in the past in the definition. The "Duke point guard" is a guy who guards the ball well and runs the offense well. I don't think that box is so small, and we haven't had that guy since 2004.

Having said that, I totally agree with you that it says a lot about Coach K's flexibility that he's had a great amount of success without such a player for the past 8 years.

Farm4Duke
10-18-2012, 05:38 PM
I would agree that Duke hasn't had a "true" point guard in several years (with the obvious exception of Kyrie). Obviously it's not that our guards haven't been talented. But it seems like we haven't had a guard that was both an excellent ball handler and savvy passer since Duhon. . . I think Duke's lack of a "true" point guard in the last couple of years is, at least partly responsible for the recent stigma that Duke doesn't develop big men. Remember how Mason played when Kyrie was directing the offense? I know Coach K isn't a big believer in rigidly defined positions (point guard, shooting guard, etc.), but it's been a long time since I have seen a true 1/point guard. I think a more traditionally defined point guard would seriously help out our big men.

I'm really hoping Quinn has improved a lot from the summer and has fully rehabbed his knee. I'm excited to see how Mason plays with a point that can get him some easy looks at the basket.

Edouble
10-18-2012, 09:43 PM
I would agree that Duke hasn't had a "true" point guard in several years (with the obvious exception of Kyrie). Obviously it's not that our guards haven't been talented. But it seems like we haven't had a guard that was both an excellent ball handler and savvy passer since Duhon. . . I think Duke's lack of a "true" point guard in the last couple of years is, at least partly responsible for the recent stigma that Duke doesn't develop big men. Remember how Mason played when Kyrie was directing the offense? I know Coach K isn't a big believer in rigidly defined positions (point guard, shooting guard, etc.), but it's been a long time since I have seen a true 1/point guard. I think a more traditionally defined point guard would seriously help out our big men.

I'm really hoping Quinn has improved a lot from the summer and has fully rehabbed his knee. I'm excited to see how Mason plays with a point that can get him some easy looks at the basket.

I believe that the point guard is actually the only position that he likes to rigidly, specifically define.

Bob Green
10-19-2012, 05:25 AM
The "Duke point guard" is a guy who guards the ball well and runs the offense well. I don't think that box is so small, and we haven't had that guy since 2004.

I agree 100 percent and look forward to watching Quinn Cook be that guy this year. In Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, Duke is talented and experienced in the front court. If Cook is at full strength and ready to run the point, the team will be hard to handle.

BD80
10-19-2012, 10:13 AM
... I'd add that, while they're are fine teams out there, ...


I'll further add that, as an intermittent member of the grammar-spelling police, I am mortified by gumbomoop's truly unforgivable mistake. The above should read: "... while there are fine teams...."

Should he/she/it attempt to claim a mere typo, don't buy it. He/she/it screwed up, and deserves your scorn. For this reason, among others we might list.

Are you sure? I believe he/she/it intended "they're our fine teams out there"

I scorn scorn, and commend commiseration.


I think the key to the "underrated" meme is the presence of Alex and Marshall. They aren't really included as newcomers and yet they didn't contribute on the court last year. Still they had a full year of practice under the coaching staff and a full year of growth and conditioning.

Alex will be filling the biggest "hole" defensively. I thought our post players last year did a reasonable/good job on help defense, but our wings were horrible in help rotation, particularly at the 3. Hopefully, we'll have better D at the point to limit penetration, but the breakdowns were glaring after the first pass. It the past, we would see many steals/charges taken by the wings rotating into the paint or on the kick-out forced by good defensive rotation. Last year? Not so much. We might see a lot of it in practice, but Rodney won't see the court until next year. Hopefully, Alex will provide the rotation we so lacked last year and Sheed and/or Amile can catch on quickly.

The story linked on the front page regarding Josh conditioning with Kyrie left me stupefied (more so than usual). How could Josh be unable to get into proper condition in his first two years???? On one hand, it is encouraging that we may see improvement from him this year - particularly on defensive rotations where fatigue is a killer. On the other hand, what level competitor is Josh that he would not work himself into condition after his freshman year?

budwom
10-19-2012, 12:54 PM
I agree, BD, the "out of shape" comments were major league befuddling. Not only is there no excuse for it, it would also seem unlikely K would have allowed such a thing.
Our guys scrimmage a great deal. You'd think the coaches would notice someone struggling to keep up.

Newton_14
10-19-2012, 10:34 PM
I agree, BD, the "out of shape" comments were major league befuddling. Not only is there no excuse for it, it would also seem unlikely K would have allowed such a thing.
Our guys scrimmage a great deal. You'd think the coaches would notice someone struggling to keep up.

Well, FWIW, Josh did look much better conditioned tonight, and far more "bouncy" than his first two years. It translated into a much better looking player in my opinion. He was not toting that refrigerator on his rear end either. I always felt like he put on too much weight his first two years. Not sure if that was by design from the staff or what.

Devil in the Blue Dress
10-21-2012, 10:19 AM
I realize the article being discussed is about our basketball team, but as the season unfolds, the headline could be about our football team!;)