Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mr. K's Neighborhood

Mr. K's Neighborhood


Patrick Kendall

After watching Duke fall to 0-2 to start their ACC season I was struck by two things initially:

Defense wins championships…in football; offense still rules in basketball.
Bob from work is going to be impossible if the Terps beat Miami.

Fortunately the Terps lost and remain 0-2 in the conference as well. That's MY silver lining.

I don't know what to say about Duke other than right now they are painful to watch on offense. I really am reminded of the 1995-96 team that was so bad. Obviously losses to two most likely mediocre teams does not bode well for Mr. K (he's been demoted temporarily because anyone can coach a team to losses – I could manage that – shoot, give me the clipboard and I'll show you how to tank for the rest of the season).

I know, I know, a true fan doesn't bail on his team during dark times and I'm not bailing, but as a fan of the GAME of basketball first, I must keep my true loyalty to the sport so I have to call people out.

First of all, coaching: Mr. K has got to run his offense through McRoberts in the LOW post the WHOLE game. McRoberts is the best offensive weapon on that team. Nelson needs to get back to slashing and finding opportunities to get to the rim and either dump it off TO McROBERTS, or draw the foul himself. He's the best athlete (maybe Henderson is better but how could you tell?) but seems content to swing the ball back and forth across the perimeter until a three point miss opportunity opens up.

And for the love of (basketball) god, Scheyer should NOT be leading the team in scoring during the regular season – yet! He is a solid complimentary player who stays within the scheme and does not know how to take over a ball game when they need it. In other words, he's no Redick – yet! I'll be happy to revisit my assessment in two more years to see where we stand.

Henderson needs the opportunity to slash with Nelson. Dunks, layups and mostly midrange jumpers should be their bag of tricks with an OCCASIONAL three point attempt to keep the defense honest.

Finally, what in the hell is going on with Paulus? Six points, three assists, three turnovers? And he is NOT leading the team in assists this season – McRoberts is! No offense to him (literally AND figuratively) but if Paulus is not going to score or run the offense and protect the ball, then what good is he?

Now I know this sounds harsh and I remember Hurley's freshmen year where he fell apart at various points and looked a big baby (especially when UNLV came a'callin') but at least he was a FRESHMAN. Paulus is a team captain. He led the ACC in assists last year. He has to STEP UP! When I look over the box score to last nights game, everyone on that squad appears to be a supporting player – no one knows how to grab hold of a game, throw it on the ground and step on its neck until it is no longer moving! (My dad was a pretty demanding coach, but look at me today as a result of that!)

Where is the grit! We need Laetner to come in and step on someone's chest. We need Battier to coolly come in and immediately draw 62 charges. We need Grant Hill to leap over someone, catch an alley oop with one hand and start the game off RIGHT! I remember reading a quote from Redick at the start of last season claiming that he had NEVER seen a better dunker than McRoberts. Well, the rest of us – the rest of the conference – need to see that.

When a team like Virginia Tech comes in and beats Duke at home in the ACC opener it sends a clear message: no fear.

When a freshman on a so-so club like Georgia Tech makes a statement saying "I wasn't gonna let us lose" about a Duke team, we have a problem. Fortunately I have the solution.

Next game, McRoberts needs to adopt a prison inmate mentality. Right after the jump ball he needs to go down, find the biggest guy on the other team and literally pull the guy's head from his shoulders then ferociously dunk that head through the basket so that it explodes when it hits the floor. Talk about sending a message. Believe me: fear will no longer be an issue.

He does that and I truly believe that Duke will be just fine.

And then Mr. K can have his Coach back.

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