I tend to enjoy a little break over the summer time, completely ignoring Big Duke Balls. Instead I focus on family, vacations, my last place fantasy baseball team and I begin to prepar for my upcoming football draft. This is my life and yes, it’s a good one. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention. Let’s take a quick look at what we’ve missed since we’ve last posted.
- Obviously the big news is Coach K leading the men’s basketball squad in China. For the first time in a long while, I will be excited to watch Olympic basketball. Anything less than a gold will be a disappointment. I tend to agree with the experts who say that the team lacks another big man. I see no reason for Jason Kidd to be on the team (too many point guards) and no, I’m not just saying that because Kidd single handily knocked out Duke from the 1993 NCAA tournament. I did read somewhere that Coach K wasn’t a good fit (sorry I can’t find the link). Why would pro athletics listen to a college coach was the basic argument? I disagree with this logic. The player’s have responded well to Coach K so far, seeing him more as a teacher than a boss. To me, there are only a handful of coaches who could have pulled this off.
Interesting fact about the Olympic team I didn’t know #1: Dean Smith (yep, Carolina’s Dean Smith) recommended Coach K for the head coaching job to Jerry Colangelo.
Interesting fact about the Olympic team I didn’t know #2: If the United States wins the Gold Medal, Coach K (and his staff) don’t get a medal. I never knew.
Interesting fact about the Olympic team I didn’t know #3: During the first day of practice, Coach K played Marvin Gay singing the National anthem and there were actually a handful of players who were hearing it for the first time.
-DeMarcus Nelson goes undrafted. This of course is not surprising. However, he is currently on the Golden State rookie team, so he’ll have a shot to prove himself. He’s a solid defender with a seven-foot wingspan, but he’s short for a NBA shooting guard. If he can develop his ball handling skills and stretch his shooting range, then he will have a legit shot. I would not be surprised if Nelson does play some ball in the NBA. This year, I don’t know. He could be like Josh McRoberts and get a mid-season call up.
- I don’t really watch too much NBA. Although the basketball is clearly better, the simple two-man game that is run throughout the league bores me. Also, the excitement is missing when I watch a game. The crowds typically just sit on their hands until about five minutes to go in the game. Having said all that, I do tend to keep an eye on former Duke players. So far, this off-season has been a busy one. Duhon is headed to New York where he’ll have a legit shot to start. I have no idea if he is the answer for the Knicks, but that team has really needed a true point guard for a long, long time.
Elton Brand heads to Philly and just like that, the 76ers are a contender. No, not really for the NBA title, but in the East, it doesn’t take much to be a contender. I can see Philadelphia as the 4th seed next year. For Brand, it’s a good move. He’s made it to the playoffs only once in his eight-year career. If he wants to be more than just a great player on bad teams, this is his shot.
Corey Maggette becomes the second Blue Devil to jump the Clippers ship. He’s headed to Golden State. While the Warriors have been better than the Clippers the past few years, you have to wonder, will that stay true now that Baron Davis is in LA now?
- The good recruiting news: Duke got its first 2010 recruit with five-star stud, Andre Dawkins, the 6-4 shooting guard from Virginia. Currently he’s the 5th rated point guard (according to Scout).
- The bad recruiting news: Leslie McDonald decided to go to UNC in 2009. It wasn’t surprising that McDonald wouldn’t come to Duke. With Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams the future of the Duke back court, there was little room for McDonald. I just would have liked to see him go somewhere else…far, far away.
So far, I can’t look at the 2009 recruiting class and be happy about it. So far, we landed a second Plumlee. He’s a solid player, but he’s not enough. It’s one thing to lose Murphy to Florida or a Reeves Nelson to UCLA, but I was shocked when Echenique passed on Duke for Rutgers. It’s not like a McDonald situation where playing time, or lack-of playing time would be an issue. With his big body and big game, Echenique would have started the moment he walked on campus. Duke’s inability to land big men like Echenique and Patrick Patterson (last year) is the ONLY reason why the Blue Devils are playing second fiddle to the Tar Heels right now.
- Speaking of those pesky Tar Heels. Three tried to go pro, but all three failed. Losers! As a Blue Devil fan, I was really, really pulling for them to go high in the draft. With all three players returning, Carolina is again the big dog in ACC country and clearly they will be ranked #1 in the country. Does Duke have a shot at de-throning them? Maybe, but don’t place any big bets on it.
- As a New Yorker, I don’t get to see too many Blue Devil games in person anymore. However, this year the Blue Devils could potentially play in the NYC area four times. Twice in the ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ tournament, once against St. Johns and then across the river in Jersey against Xavier. My wife is going to be real happy.