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  1. #1

    Feinstein Article

    DBR linked the column in this morning's Post. A central theme of Feinstein's article is that folks who have been anti-Duke over the past several years don't seem to care anymore because this year's team is not as strong as in the past. Can't prove it by me. Throughout the season, I've heard many a person proclaim that the Devils can't lose enough to satisfy their appetite. This is the way I feel toward Connecticut and how most Duke fans feel toward UNC. Perhaps Feinstein is correct about the casual fan but IMO, there are a bunch of folks out there who still hate Duke and will be pulling against the Devils in the NCAAs and for the foreseeable future.

    Another thing that jumped out at me from the column were the two slams of McRoberts. One dealt with his play the other night, "he couldn't guard the floor" and the other dealt with his relationships with other players " few tears will be shed in the locker room if he leaves for the NBA". It appears to me that McRoberts and Paulus have tried to lead this team as captains and McRoberts' approach is more Laettner than Battier. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the skill, experience or teammates to pull it off.

    gw67

  2. #2

    Feinstein on Duke

    Feinstein's article linked on the main page is provocative. He is making a point K is no longer the same coach he once was. This is true. In many ways, K is a better coach- he has created a system that runs like clockwork. It is scheduled, it is micromanaged and somewhat corporate. His assistants are former players who by their very nature are always going to see K as coach and not colleague. This can make for an insular program. This corporate approach is probably true at most top programs- but the difference is that at Duke, it is more visible and more hated. K has presented himself as an ubercoach- doing many things besides coaching. He is definitely more private than he was 15 years or more ago. K is less visible on campus- he has set up a structure that allows him to do the multitude of jobs he now has. He is no longer just a basketball coach. This is not to be critical- but simply a recognition to what sometimes happens to people who reach a level of success and need more challenges in their lives. What does this mean to the team? Well at some level it puts a lot of pressure on his weaker teams than in the past to live up to the past. K has had few teams that did not win one kind of championship or another- so there is not much corporate memory of what to do. A younger K was able to draw on a certain energy level. An older,busier K is less able to correct problems in real time.

    The other issue Feinstein points out is the Duke and K hatred. The reasons for this are complex and frankly not well understood. Some say Duke is hated for being successful, but that cannot be completely true as there are other successful programs (UConn) that do not draw this level of hate. Some say Duke is hated because it is an elite private. No other top 10 University has acheived this level of achievement in one of the major sports. This has something to do with it- in part because Duke's bigest rival is a public university with a proud tradition of excellence in the same sport. In sports, someone has to wear the black hat. But still, being hated is not easy- it is wearing - because nothing you do is good enough. If you win - the hatred builds- if you lose- the critics revel. As someone pointed out- it makes for a grumpy fan base.

    Feinstein also swings at McBob. Not completely sure if all of what he says is true or warranted. But what is true, is that a system like Duke relies on having certain types of players who trive in a pressure cooker or can rise above it. McBob has struggled or at least has not taken the team on his shoulders as other captians once have. But maybe that is too much to ask of McBob at this point. He did not ask to be on a team with no seniors. Shane was one of those "I will carry you on my back" players but he is rare. JJ was able to transform himself to that level of player- but was never able to have is best games in the big dance. They were both four year guys who were willing to commit themselves to something bigger. As a result, K is looking for more of those guys because he needs them to keep things running. This is a bit of a mid major mindset that K seems to admire. Get teams that may not be the best players but play well together. But the difference is that none of those teams do it in the pressure cooker of Duke bball. They are all admired but no one expects them to be NCAA champion- just to make a little noise come March. Duke is different-at least right now.

    So Duke is transforming and everyone is waiting to see what will emerge. Will it look more like a Gonzaga or like the 1999 team with NBA level talent who may leave at a moments notice. We really do not know. K has a few hungry coaches around him that will make things challenging. Roy is a simple coach who is getting connected to the community- who can still be seen going to the Women's games- but he still wants more championships to solidify his legacy. Lowe is trying to bring State back to the heights- a difficult but not impossible task. Being hungry is important to maintain success. K knows this- he writes about it. But doing it with haters all around take a special energy level. If it wanes from time to time- can anyone really be surprised?
    dukelifer

  3. #3
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    I've never liked Feinstein all that much.

    He's dead wrong about hatred for Duke having waned this season. If it really was sort of a ho-hum reaction in St. Pete/Tampa Thursday night, it's probably because the game itself was such a bore for such a long time. The UK/UNC Internet peabrains certainly haven't lost interest in Duke's misfortunes this year.

    That said, Duke's program is in a bit of a transition. Honestly, it has been since 2004, in my eyes. College basketball today is not the college basketball where K built this program -- teams wear skin-tight jerseys with alligator prints, for Pete's sake -- and Duke is finding its place in all that. There's no telling what that place will ultimately be. My gut tells me it probably won't be exactly where most of us have grown used to.

  4. #4
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    John Feinstein article - completely bogus

    The frontpaged Feinstein article is a complete joke. First of all, it sounded pretty loud to me in the arena when we lost. The cheers were most certainly not confined to the State section.

    Second, the notion that this team is bad mean's that we're not going to get any better next year? Think about this for a comparison. Maryland missed the NCAA's the past two seasons. This year they got in after playing lights out basketball for the last three weeks, but still only won 10 games in conference. They lost to last place Miami on Thursday, and their team is lead by seniors - Strawberry, Jones, Ibekwe, and Bowers. What does the future of their program look like if a senior laden team can't get past the first round of the tournament?

    While we're at it, let's look at other conference teams to see who they'll lose to graduation:
    BC - Marshall, Dudley
    UNC - Millery, Terry, Wright possibly early
    UVA - Reynolds, Cain
    VT - Dowdell, Gordon, Collins

    So of the teams that finished ahead of us, they all will face significant turnover this offseason. We won't. And we'll bring in the top class in the ACC.

    And I dont buy for a second that we've fallen because of recruiting mistakes. Paulus has been a great player the last month. Thomas is a freshman who deserves time to develop. McRoberts hasn't been brilliant, but I think he's been burdened with the pressure that he has to to do everything - an area in which Singler will help releive the pressure. Henderson is going to be dynamite. Zoubek has been frustrating at times, but all it takes is one look at Kyle Visser to remind us to have patience in a big guy to develop. Scheyer made All-Freshman team.

    This team does not lack talent, it lacks experience. You don't gain it because you have Duke on your chest, you gain it with time and because you earn it.

  5. #5
    I agree with you, but I don't think Feinstein ever said that Duke will continue having down seasons, just that the ACC has gotten tougher. UNC is UNC again, Leitao was a good addition, I like what we've seen from Lowe so far, Greenberg has shown that he will contend when he has an experienced team, same with Skinner, Gary is still here, etc

    IMO, and maybe it's because I have low expectations for the media, but I thought Feinstein wrote a good article based on his other points.
    Last edited by Troublemaker; 03-10-2007 at 11:00 AM.

  6. #6
    As an aside, I'm somewhat peeved at the ACC for being so strong this year when UNC is a championship contender but so weak last year when Duke was (at least nominally) a championship contender. A tough conference hardens you for NCAA play.

  7. #7
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    I can't say one way or another about what the fan reaction in the arena was to Duke's win, but I agree with the rest of the article.

  8. #8
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    talent ?

    Quote Originally Posted by VaDukie View Post

    This team does not lack talent, it lacks experience. You don't gain it because you have Duke on your chest, you gain it with time and because you earn it.

    UNC, Ohio State and Texas are all as "inexperienced" as Duke this season, yet their talented underclassmen have performed very well. The HS AAs on the Duke team have proved to be somewhat less talented than anticipated. It's too late in the year to blame inexperience.

  9. #9
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    These are great, insightful posts that make me think. Thanks to the three of you for that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bay Area Duke Fan View Post
    UNC, Ohio State and Texas are all as "inexperienced" as Duke this season, yet their talented underclassmen have performed very well. The HS AAs on the Duke team have proved to be somewhat less talented than anticipated. It's too late in the year to blame inexperience.
    Sorry, Bay Area, but I'm tired of hearing that argument. There are two issues that you are ignoring. First, Ohio State has a couple of extremely experienced upperclassmen -- Lewis and Butler -- and some other vets to aid their talented freshmen.
    Secondly, and more importantly, not all players develop at the same rate. Texas got the best freshman in the country who would be playing in the league right now. And he'll be in the league in a couple of months. Duke brought in a bunch of 3- and 4-year player. One of them was ready to play right away (Scheyer) and he made All-ACC. One of them was extremely talented, but raw, and has finally blossomed in the last couple of weeks (Henderson). And the other two (Thomas and Zoubek) are clearly more long-term projects. There is no reason to think they won't be very good players down the road. But Duke's playing four key freshmen with no seniors, and a lot of these freshmen are developing at a different pace from the freshmen at, say, Ohio State or Texas. So, please, quit the "it's not an excuse at this point" crap. It's not an excuse -- it's a fact.

  11. #11

    Most telling thing in the whole article...

    "If you believe what people close to the Duke program are saying, few tears will be shed in the locker room if that occurs."..on Josh going pro.

    John is still loyal to Duke. He does not put that damning quote in the article, IMO, if the coaching staff does not give at least a silent approval.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumbo View Post
    Sorry, Bay Area, but I'm tired of hearing that argument. There are two issues that you are ignoring. First, Ohio State has a couple of extremely experienced upperclassmen -- Lewis and Butler -- and some other vets to aid their talented freshmen.
    Secondly, and more importantly, not all players develop at the same rate. Texas got the best freshman in the country who would be playing in the league right now. And he'll be in the league in a couple of months. Duke brought in a bunch of 3- and 4-year player. One of them was ready to play right away (Scheyer) and he made All-ACC. One of them was extremely talented, but raw, and has finally blossomed in the last couple of weeks (Henderson). And the other two (Thomas and Zoubek) are clearly more long-term projects. There is no reason to think they won't be very good players down the road. But Duke's playing four key freshmen with no seniors, and a lot of these freshmen are developing at a different pace from the freshmen at, say, Ohio State or Texas. So, please, quit the "it's not an excuse at this point" crap. It's not an excuse -- it's a fact.
    jumbo, i got tired of hearing "inexperience" as the excuse for much of the season (it has mostly subsided at this point). i fully understand if the team is erratic in the first half of the season because multiple freshman are starting but here we are in march and it is pretty clear that this team got considerably worse as the season wore on with its worst game of the year being its most important and last one. i think everyone would agree that our freshman are developing a lot slower than other less heralded freshman and that is what is troubling. it's not just the teams with super frosh like, unc, ohio st and texas, who rely heavily on frosh who have developed considerably during the season, but also teams like louisville, villanova and ga tech who have enjoyed similar improvements with frosh.

    i also think that to call thomas a "long-term project" is a bit revisionist because when duke signed him last year i read very little about how he was raw and a couple of years away from contributing (as was written about zoubek) but i did read a lot of articles and posts that were gaga over him. henderson and scheyer both were expected to contribute from day 1 and be stars as well.

    you are correct in noting that texas is led by the very best freshman who has been incredible from day 1. however, they were a rather mediocre team until early february when its other less heralded freshmen (augustin, james and mason, who all start as frosh) began to catch up with durant. don't forget that they lost to mich st, gonzaga, tennessee, ok st, villanova (minus sumpter) and ksu before they caught fire. had those other 3 frosh not dramatically improved over the first 3 months of the season, there is no reason to believe that texas would be anywhere where it is today and looking at a possible top 4 seed. had our freshmen developed anywhere close to how durant's supporting cast has developed, there is no reason to believe that we would be looking at a likely 8/9 game in the first round of the tournament. the million dollar question is why has this happened? did we recruit the wrong guys? has the coaching been weak? is it a combination of both? i don't think that anyone really knows but there certainly has been a lot of discussion of it on these boards over the past few weeks and hopefully k can figure it out and correct it in the offseason.

  13. #13
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    Feb 2007
    Dukie8,
    My point is not to compare Duke's frosh with others around the country. It's to remind everyone that each player develops at his own rate. And Duke has a history of guys who struggled as freshmen and went on to have terrific careers. The reasons can be myriad -- is Duke's defense too complex for some freshmen to handle? Are they practicing well? Are their other things in their lives occupying time? I'd add one more thing -- the ACC is (by far) the best conference in the country. Duke's "struggled" down the stretch because it's had no easy games. You can't say that about any outstanding freshman class from any other conference.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumbo View Post
    Dukie8,
    My point is not to compare Duke's frosh with others around the country. It's to remind everyone that each player develops at his own rate. And Duke has a history of guys who struggled as freshmen and went on to have terrific careers. The reasons can be myriad -- is Duke's defense too complex for some freshmen to handle? Are they practicing well? Are their other things in their lives occupying time? I'd add one more thing -- the ACC is (by far) the best conference in the country. Duke's "struggled" down the stretch because it's had no easy games. You can't say that about any outstanding freshman class from any other conference.
    it didn't help that the way the acc schedule was set up, all of the "easy" games were on the front end and the back end of the schedule was brutal. however, those "easy" teams (nc st, wfu and miami) were busy improving themselves (as demonstrated in the acc tournament.) it also didn't help that we had the hardest of the unbalanced schedules. even taking all of that into account, we still failed to show very little development as the season progressed and almost blew the game against st johns, which is a terrible team no matter how you slice it.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    it didn't help that the way the acc schedule was set up, all of the "easy" games were on the front end and the back end of the schedule was brutal. however, those "easy" teams (nc st, wfu and miami) were busy improving themselves (as demonstrated in the acc tournament.) it also didn't help that we had the hardest of the unbalanced schedules. even taking all of that into account, we still failed to show very little development as the season progressed and almost blew the game against st johns, which is a terrible team no matter how you slice it.
    It's understandable for us fans to be frustrated; it's tough losing 3 in row to end the season and get bounced from the ACC on the first day. But, I do think folks are overreacting, including Feinstein.

    Duke has progressed this season. The offense, in general, has improved a great deal, both individually and as a team. The defense the last 3 games has been much worse than earlier in the season. But, two of those games were against UNC and MD, two teams with potent offenses and good athletes.

    When you look around at other teams, you realize no one is immune to losses; UCLA lost; MD and VA both lost --- MD to a team worse than State, and that after being the hottest team in the ACC.

    In past years, Duke has been somewhat (but not completely) immune to the "bad" loss, mainly because K is great at getting the team motivated to play hard every night. But, this team is inexperienced and I think the tough ACC schedule plus all the pressure of being Duke has just taken it's toll. On Thursday night, the team just lacked the kind of heart that we're used to seeing. When they had to get stops, they just couldn't. State played loose and Duke looked like it wasn't having any fun. (I wondered if Josh was hurt -- he looked sluggish out there at times...)

    I'm still optimistic about the NCAAs; there's no team that really scares me. Maybe the extra rest will help our team (coaches and players) physically and mentally...

  16. #16
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    you're overstating things more than a little, dukie8. we didn't almost blow the game against st. john's, we barely let them climb back to within 20. are they terrible? they're not very good, but they were 7-9 in the big east (better than uconn) and played marquette very tough the other night (much tougher than they played us).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by phaedrus View Post
    you're overstating things more than a little, dukie8. we didn't almost blow the game against st. john's, we barely let them climb back to within 20. are they terrible? they're not very good, but they were 7-9 in the big east (better than uconn) and played marquette very tough the other night (much tougher than they played us).
    we were up 34-8 at one point and let them cut it to 12 twice (51-39 and 53-41). 12 is a lot less than 20. st johns is terrible no matter how you slice it. i live in nyc and have seen them play enough times to know this. comparing them to uconn is a strawman (it seems like that has been the word de jour on here lately) because uconn was absolutely horrible (if they had played our schedule, they would have had less than 10 wins). 7-9 in the big least, which had a lot of cannon fodder in its bottom half means very little. the fact that they played marquette tough on their own home court in the big least tournament doesn't get them out of horrible status (they still lost). this is a team with an rpi of 133 that has lost ELEVEN games by 10 or more points and FIVE by 20 or more. there are not that many other bcs schools with that kind of a resume.

  18. #18

    Probably not worth arguing

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    we were up 34-8 at one point and let them cut it to 12 twice (51-39 and 53-41). 12 is a lot less than 20. st johns is terrible no matter how you slice it. i live in nyc and have seen them play enough times to know this. comparing them to uconn is a strawman (it seems like that has been the word de jour on here lately) because uconn was absolutely horrible (if they had played our schedule, they would have had less than 10 wins). 7-9 in the big least, which had a lot of cannon fodder in its bottom half means very little. the fact that they played marquette tough on their own home court in the big least tournament doesn't get them out of horrible status (they still lost). this is a team with an rpi of 133 that has lost ELEVEN games by 10 or more points and FIVE by 20 or more. there are not that many other bcs schools with that kind of a resume.
    To be fair- Duke was up pretty big against St Johns and probably relaxed a bit as often happens with big leads. This Duke team has not learned to deliver the knock-out when they had teams down big all year. That is a weakness that may get fixed next year. Duke teams have been masters of psychologically beating teams with a run that seems to take the fight out of them.

    As for other Frosh laden teams doing well- well that is a matter of perspective. Ohio State has won- but often by a few points- at least of late- 2 pts over Penn State- 1 against Wisconsin- 4 against Michican and they are in a dogfight against Purdue as I type. Texas is okay but they lost to Gonzaga, Villanova and Kansas State among others. The young teams have not set the world on fire and may be as vulnerable as anyone come the NCAAT.
    dukelifer

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukelifer View Post
    To be fair- Duke was up pretty big against St Johns and probably relaxed a bit as often happens with big leads. This Duke team has not learned to deliver the knock-out when they had teams down big all year. That is a weakness that may get fixed next year. Duke teams have been masters of psychologically beating teams with a run that seems to take the fight out of them.

    As for other Frosh laden teams doing well- well that is a matter of perspective. Ohio State has won- but often by a few points- at least of late- 2 pts over Penn State- 1 against Wisconsin- 4 against Michican and they are in a dogfight against Purdue as I type. Texas is okay but they lost to Gonzaga, Villanova and Kansas State among others. The young teams have not set the world on fire and may be as vulnerable as anyone come the NCAAT.
    what makes you think that duke just relaxed against st johns when it got up big? this is the same team that has blown 20+ point leads numerous times this year. that would have been a good time to have actually gone for the jugular and put the opponent away for a change rather than to have let the opponent creep back into the game in the second half.

    ohio st is the #1 team in the country so i'm not sure why you are quibbling about the size of their wins. #1 with a lock for a #1 seed is setting the world on fire in my book. i'm not sure what you mean by calling texas "okay." as noted earlier, texas is a team that is almost entirely freshman and lost a lot of games earlier in the season when durant's supporting cast was learning how to play in college. texas went on its 6-game winning street when those other frosh started playing much better. they are in very good position for a top 4 seed. louisville was the #2 seed in the big least tournament and probably will get somewhere around a 5 seed. my point is that there are other teams with less heralded freshmen than ours that made considerable progress during the season and that are playing their best -- not worst -- basketball of the season right now.

  20. #20

    Going for the jugular

    Quote Originally Posted by dukie8 View Post
    what makes you think that duke just relaxed against st johns when it got up big? this is the same team that has blown 20+ point leads numerous times this year. that would have been a good time to have actually gone for the jugular and put the opponent away for a change rather than to have let the opponent creep back into the game in the second half.

    ohio st is the #1 team in the country so i'm not sure why you are quibbling about the size of their wins. #1 with a lock for a #1 seed is setting the world on fire in my book. i'm not sure what you mean by calling texas "okay." as noted earlier, texas is a team that is almost entirely freshman and lost a lot of games earlier in the season when durant's supporting cast was learning how to play in college. texas went on its 6-game winning street when those other frosh started playing much better. they are in very good position for a top 4 seed. louisville was the #2 seed in the big least tournament and probably will get somewhere around a 5 seed. my point is that there are other teams with less heralded freshmen than ours that made considerable progress during the season and that are playing their best -- not worst -- basketball of the season right now.
    I agree with you- Duke should have used that game to learn to blow a team away- But they did not. I think it is mental- you think it is physical.

    And if you are quibbling about blowing a 20 pt lead to 12 points as being a sign of struggling, underachieving team then why is a win by one or four not a sign of a struggling number 1 team. Duke beat St Johns easily if you look at the final score. If your judgement of a team is being number 1 and getting a 1 seed regardless of margin of victories- then you must have been a great fan of Duke over the past half decade. But I thought you are talking about getting NCAA championships or advancing to the final four.
    dukelifer

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