#22o R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #1o R.P.I. Duke:
Whenever your team leader in turnovers only drops the rock 2.4 times per game, and you only have four kids outta your 14 averaging worse than o.6 turnovers per contest you Sir are a damn good coach. Even if I did not know of the coach K resume coming into this season, the national titles, (4) the Final-4’s (11), the conference championships (12) and the gold medals (3 in total), even if I knew none of that, I’d know you were a damn good coach, or I’d know you must be playing in the pre-3-point era and only averaging 30-40 ppg (Duke nets 80.1); take thy pick!
So yes, to put the cart before the horse, we don’t have much of chance in this one, not even if Duke spots us the H, the O, the R, and the S. We are catching Duke in a double textbook let-down sports psych trap, after a gutting L (@ UNC) and a gutty win (W vs. the #1 ranked ‘Cuse @ home). So I suppose that helps. And yet if you are wondering if I’ma gonna pick this upset, don’t. My only calculus here is how close can coach J’s can company keep this one down in Raleigh Durham? The smart money says prolly not within even 20, maybe not within 30, if Duke heats up a chill late Winter night.
As this is a very very very dangerous Duke Basketball team, very balanced inside-n-out. The only real question I see is to ask … how many (more) times will they play Syracuse. As these two are (both) so dang good do I hear a quadratic nomination, which would by definition have to include March Madness?
Duke Backcourt: (returning starters=2, though one now subs in)
- Rasheed Sulaimon, Houston Texas prep star who antes up with 9.8 ppg, 2.5 dimes (assists) and 2.3 rebounds as a smaller off-Guard with equally smaller hands. Pre-season all-star conference candidate according to most mag’s, and 44% from beyond the arc does not suck. Neither does 20-20 court vision and associated (see the pun) floor leadership and decision making skills. Seems to prefer a run-n-gun playground style of basketball, and has the fluidity to his game to support all of that. I like to think of a baller like Rasheed as a Dukie who nets right at 10 for coach K, and prolly drops mid to high teens for us; as it is difficult to shine oh so much in a hooping constellation of stars. Even for the 12th ranked kid in America outta high school.
- Tyler Thornton: D.C. (District of Columbia) kid who looks bigger than his listed 190 lb. metric suggests. Kind has a football Free Safety vibe to his game. Ty was named Team Captain for this season as the vocal and emotional leader de jour for coach K. Hard-nosed, scrapper of a baller, with something of a Big-10 flavor to his mix. Ty is a pesky, excellent on the ball defender accordingly, with 1.3 swipes per contest, 3.4 ppg, and 2.3 assists with an electrifying 50-50 3-ball or fiddy-percent from deep. Super-Glue kinda kid who solidifies a team and holds a lockeroom together; as intangibles might as well be Thornton’s middle-name.
Duke Frontcourt: (starters back=zero of three)
- Jabari Parker, With the #1 Draft pick overall, The Los Angles Lakers, proudly select……………..not umpossible, in either direction I mean. As this kid is real real real good; and it is only a matter of where you select to peg his greatness. Leading Duke in scoring (19.8 ppg) and in rebounding (8.8) as a rookie says so! 48% from the floor and a quite honorable 38.2% from downtown would seem to agree. This from the first player to ever be named Mr. Basketball for the state of Illinois, twice! Basically this guy is something of a cross between a Deng and a Grant Hill; with a little more flash and maybe just a touch less all-round upside to his hill. The Lindy’s scouting report described this Parker bother as an oversized Guard. I don’t now if Jabari can make the shift to the 2-guard in the Association, though I don’t know that he can’t, either. And I do know that if he can, he will be a major overload at the Two; even on the pro circuit. As there is something about his game that strikes me as more parts oversized lead-Guard and less parts Small-Forward. On several levels mind you. And dood only picked up 4, quad-A title rings in high school. Only reason he did not tab a fifth is that the 8th graders did not play. I’ve been doing this a long time now, and I don’t recall reading that in a bio’, ever. That says something right there. I did not find a true deficiency here, 72% from the charity-stripe is the low-water mark as Parker could put up even larger numbers as he has tallied 168 FTA’s already this year. Has 2 N.F.L. uncles, is part (50%) Tongan and he did fracture his left-foot. So there may be a moderate podiatry concern here for a little bit, beyond that, Jabari is nearly an A- to A+ no matter where you look; including leading the Dukies in swats at 1.3 bpg.
- Amile Jefferson, Philly kid who messes around and gets you 6.6. ppg and a unheralded and second best 6.6. rpg as well. Shoots and incredible 66% from the floor on numerous uncovered frontcourt rotational bunnies and put-backs; and is quietly one of the better offensive rebounders in Atlantic Coast terms. Added an downright solid 20 lbs. of muscle this off-season to augment his 80’’ wingspan. A quick and crafty player who is more parts S/F and fewer parts P/F even with the added sinew. Jefferson does need a little work on his range if he wishes to employ himself in overseas terms. Amile is an all-Ac.c. Academic Team member, a consecutive Gatorade Pennsylvania player of the year, and he is said to be a big time bowler in his spare time.
- Rodney Hood, Rodney was said to be the best player at practice last year for Duke (sitting down with a r-shirt after a Mississippi State transfer). Explosive leader and explosive worker is no bad pedigree last time I checked; and if not for Jabari, this is prolly an all-American kinda talent; and a 1st round draft pick with evens more attention and pub’. Right now all Hood can manage is a mere 16.1 ppg on a mere 44% from the outside. This is another kid who may be a Three at Duke who could be better served as a Two in the show. Does have a history of Achilles’ worries in tow, though he is a natural defender and shot contester as a lefty (vs. a right-handed release point); he is very versatile, and is only the 4th (incoming) transfer in the history of coach K! So that tells you something right there. Ditto being the back-to-back Mississippi player of the year in High School and where both parents played their college (Mississippi State as well) ball.
Duke Bench: (depth= ~3, though they can go deeper)
- Quinn Cook, Washington D.C. escapee who is a pass first floor-general with deceptive acceleration and quicks. Cook is a stronger player in his northern hemisphere than his bantamweight 179 lb. tall states; energetic baller who is pretty stout in terms of on the ball pressure. Really tight assist to turnover ratio (2.77:1), third in scoring off the pine at 12.2 ppg and does lead Duke in assists at 4.7 and in steals at 1.4 as a substitute! Don’t see that one very often either. Cookie is a decent to good enough shooter, though Quinn could stand to extend his range just a notch or two. Quinn is a former starter with bucu experience and he can close any given game like a champ; and he has nearly quadrupled his scoring since he entered Duke. Multi year Honor Roll student at Duke. (props!)
- Marshall Plumlee, yes Virginia (Tech) there is another Plumlee and yes he is related. This is 7’ 26o lbs. worth of Plumlee if you are keeping score at home on this r-sophomore Center who will only get better and better. .1 ppg and .6 rpg up to 1.2 ppg and 2.o rpg is improvement. This in only 8 minutes of play; and with a series of foot injuries on top of all of that; as this Plumlee is better than he has (been able) to showcase thus far. Still developing as a baller, who has added a staggering 40 lbs. to his Dukie frame since his arrival, high energy, floor-burn kinda guy right now. Good screening Big, who has a deft touch out to 10-12’. Marshall is shooting 64% from the floor though a horrific 26% from the Line.
- Andre Dawkins, No relation (to Johnny), though he does have an uncle who is a college basketball Ref’, honor roll stud mathematics student, star chess and golf player and I can’t say I’ve ever read that one before in a hoops preview; either. And oh yah; he plays ball on top of all of that. 8.7 ppg and 47% from the floor, 84% from the FT-line and 45% from 3-ball land is pretty damn good work, if you can get it. Has the rep of employing a pure long-range stroke from 22-25’ out. Left high school (via graduating) as a junior! Again; can’t say I’ve ever read that one, either, as this is just the very kind kid that every coach wants on his team. Took a year away from round-ball last year to deal with the grief of his sister who was killed in a car accident on the way to see him play; God Bless on that. Plays stronger than he looks, will dunk on you at the rim. Already has his diploma, good, on, him!
Illation, conclusion (s) and OPT digits:
Well, beyond –and Coach God forbid- the Duke team thinks the game is tomorrow night, or maybe a record shooting Hokie visiting night overall, I’m un-want to see how Virginia Tech is gonna win this thing. Our handy dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide is only predicting a 28.75 point Duke homesteading blow-out victory; though do note I only went back 4 games in my calculations, as it would have been assuredly worse, if I had scored the entire year. Duke is good-to-go health wise, whereas Virginia Tech’s burnt-Orange and Chicago-Maroon is all black-n-blue.
Although Virginia Tech does hold a surprising -5% defensive FG percentage margin allowed advantage and Virginia Tech is also +8 in terms of rebounding margin over the course of each clubs most recent five games. And NO, I did not make any of that up! So there is that, and well, that’s about all there is. As everything else favors, well, Duke. Is 11th best in scoring margin (+13.3 ppg), Duke is 6th best in assist to turnover ratio (+1.55) and Duke is mere 5th best in 3-point shooting for all of America at 40.7%. Yah; this team sucks.
Duke has beaten coach J’s by 30, on average. Virginia Tech averages 54 points this year as the visitor and is averaging 55 ppg in their last five contests overall. I’m expecting an above average Hokie effort, hence the 56 point mark.
(95% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=56, Duke=88