Duke, Lehigh, Miles Plumlee, And Coach K.

As the final buzzer sounded on Duke’s season the cold reality set in on what was a tumultuous season.  The curtain fell with a resounding thump.  Most knew this Duke team wasn’t going to make a deep run into the tournament, but no one thought a loss in the first round to Lehigh was remotely possible. The loss to Lehigh served up a large helping of  humble pie. After returning from Hawaii the signs were there. With a near loss to Belmont inside Cameron, followed by a blowout at the hands of Ohio St,  another loss to Temple, and then the proverbial salt in the wound, 3 losses in Cameron to Florida St, Miami, and arch rival Carolina. The ACC Tournament was was hope once again that this Duke team could finally put it all together, give Duke new life, but it wasn’t to be, as we suffered a second loss to Fla St.

Lehigh came ready to play, they were not intimidated by the Blue Devils whatsoever. They outplayed Duke literally from the start. They were quicker and out hustled Duke from the beginning and deserved to win the game. We had no answer for CJ McCollum who put up 30 points, 6 rebs, 6 ast and 2 stl. McCollum was the two-time Patriot League player of the year and the nation’s fifth-leading scorer. The Mountain Hawks also had 17 points from Gabe Knutson. Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee led Duke with 19 pts but not much help from anyone else. Season over.

Miles Plumlee played his last game as a Blue Devil, a 4 year player who late in the year became a rebounding machine but never reached his potential as a scorer. Miles pulled down 242 rebounds this year, and for his career at Duke he had a total of 654 rebounds and scored 650 points, he also blocked  87 shots for the Blue Devils. Miles gave us many exciting moments and as always with any 4 year player, it will be sad to see him go.

With Miles graduating that leaves the Blue Devils ‘for the moment’ a lot of unanswered questions. Will Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee opt for the NBA? Duke has secured only one recruit for the 2012-2013 season in Rasheed Sulaimon. Should Rivers and Plumlee return Duke will have a much more promising team next year, if not, the Blue Devils could face another harsh season especially if we don’t pick up more recruits.

All was not lost in this up and down season for Duke, there were bright spots. Coach K gave us one of his finest coaching jobs this year with a team that lacked the talent of past teams. Coach K pulled 27 wins out of a team that if coached by someone else might have fallen far short of that mark. One other point of note was the record for all time wins. Coach K passed Bobby Knight for all time wins and has set the mark at 927. No small feat.

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8 thoughts on “Duke, Lehigh, Miles Plumlee, And Coach K.

  1. “Coach K gave us one of his finest coaching jobs this year….” are you kidding. He recruited this mess of a team. He cannot coach big men so they actually improve over the course of their careers. Look who he has recruited for next year. Lets be realistic, this season falls on him and him alone. Maybe we should change our recruiting methods to go after under the radar players not just McDonalds All Americans. Maybe we should get an assistant coach who actually is a big man. Look what Carolina did with Zeller, what Kansas did with Robinson. Our big men are a joke.

    Starting Thornton and playing him all year was a great decision. He cant penetrate, can’t shoot and clearly has little lateral quickness. Cook should have started from the beginning….now he will transfer.

    All in all, I think the program is at an inflection point and change must occur.

  2. @Mintz, While you are entitled to your opinion, I disagree with you every possible way. This Duke team has been inconsistent all year, we couldn’t find a way to play defense and started most games flat and never had an on the court vocal leader who could get it his team to play harder and play better. Going into this season, I thought Seth Curry was going to be that guy, but that didn’t happen. I think our recruiting and our roster is fine. We just need players to play hard, hit shots, stop somebody on defense and do that on a consistent basis.

    As for our big guys and Coach K not being able to “coach bigmen so they actually improve over the course of their careers.”, that is completely insane. Zoubeck went from a riding the bench in freshman year to being the reason we won a title his senior year. Mason in his Freshman Year wanted to dunk everything, couldn’t post up, couldn’t handle a pass, couldn’t stop from turning the ball over, and couldn’t help but pick up silly fouls 10-20 feet from the basket. While Mason isn’t a finish product now at the end of his Junior Year, he is MUCH improved. He stays out of foul trouble most games, can post up, he improved his shooting from the free throw line and can score on a regular basis. If that isn’t improvement I don’t know what is.

    The reason that big men won’t come to Duke is because the perception is that Duke big men only set screens. They aren’t a focal point of the offense. The caliber of player we’re going after is to good for that and they know it. That perception isn’t changed when they see Duke play, they watch the bigs get position in the post, they call for the ball, and the guards won’t pass them the ball. There was one sequence when Seth had the ball, had Mason has his man sealed in the post. Mason called for the ball and Seth didn’t give it to him. He turned and dribbled around and ended up driving into 3 Lehigh defenders and throwing up a desperation shot with no chance of going in. That perception isn’t helped when when Austin has the ball and Mason comes out to set the screen, Mason is open EVERY time for a lob over the top or at least a touch in the post. But Mason never gets the ball in those situations (By never I mean not with any type of consistency). Now some might argue that the Plumlee’s have problems with catching the ball in the post. I say, It’s hard for big men to catch passes when they are coming in around their knees. If I notice these things as a fan watching on TV, High School coaches and players see that. How can Duke convince a kid ranked top 5 in the nation to come to a school where you’ll be asked to set screens 90% of the time. Other schools look for the big men on a FAR more consistent basis. (One of which is 8 miles away)

    Duke was 27-7 this year, were perfect on the road, Beat unc at unc, Fsu at Fsu, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State, and were still a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Duke will be fine. We need to refocus on defense first, pay attention to their big men second and worry about our intensity third. The team will have all summer to dwell on this horrible loss and come back better than ever.

  3. I totally agree Alexis. This was by far Coach K’s worst coaching job, unless getting worse as the season goes on is some kind of achievement. Frankly, I am getting more and more peeved at the way Coach K is running this program. He is not recruiting good all-around players, but one-dimensional shooters. The offense has been 3 point shooting for the last decade and it has literally knocked us out of the tourney 4-5 times. The Plumlees should have absolutely wrecked people this year with their physical skills. The other two unforgivable decisions in my book were the refusal to play Gbinije and making Thornton the point guard. Gbinije is the only one with the physical skills to guard multiple positions and not including him was disastrous. The decision to take the ball out of Rivers hands and put it in Tyler Thornton’s was even worse. Thornton cannot create for others, has no offensive ability. He is also not even close to a great defender, He fouled out of last game while allowing CJ McCollom to score 30 points and create shots for everyone else.

  4. Wow, you guys have really been spoiled. To win twenty seven games this year with the talent (or lack of) and to look at some of the teams we did beat Coach K must have been Hoodini (hope I spelled that right). I don’t care what combination of players he played I don’t think the results would have been much different. I have heard a lot of the basketball gurus on the various networks also say he has done a great job maximizing the talent he had this year. If Coach K says the peaches are ripe, I am going to get the basket. I will never doubt his coaching abilities.

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