Kansas vs Duke: Grading the Blue Devils


Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots over Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) in the second half at United Center. Kansas won 94-83. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

After re-watching last night’s Kansas-Duke contest (which was every bit as fun the second time around. I got to fast forward through the 5,000 personal foul calls and everything), I’ve come up with grades for everyone’s performance. Going to try and do this after every game from here on out. Here we go:

Quinn Cook: C-

Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Quinn Cook (2) shoots past Kansas Jayhawks guard Naadir Tharpe (10) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Cook reverted back to his out of control, ineffective ways that we saw down the stretch last season. Miraculously, he only turned the ball over once, but the guard was frequently making wild aimless fastbreaks and careless shots. Strong guard play could’ve given Duke a big advantage in this one, but Cook turned in a very (and hopefully) forgetful performance. He did make a couple decent plays, including a perfectly placed lob to Jabari Parker in the first half, but those were few and far between.

Final Stats: 10 points (4-9 FG, 0-3 3pt, 2-2 FT), 4 assists, 2 rebounds, turnover, 4 personal fouls

Tyler Thornton: C+

Thornton may have not contributed much, but he didn’t do much to harm to the Blue Devils, either. He only took one shot–knocking down one of his trademark, corner-pocket three-pointers early in the second half–but did his typical statsheet-stuffing throughout. Out of all the guards, I felt he played the strongest defense, not that that is saying much. Thornton even ended up having to guard Andrew Wiggins for a short period of time and, well, he held his ground a lot better than we could have expected.

Final Stats: 3 points (1-1 FG, 1-1 3pt), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, turnover, 5 personal fouls

Amile Jefferson: B/B+

Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) and Duke Blue Devils forward Amile Jefferson (21) fight for the ball in the second half at United Center. Kansas won 94-83. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The lack of a true big man has forced Jefferson to play out of position this year, but the sophomore performed admirably against a big and physical Kansas team all night. For the second straight contest, he showed off the dramatic improvements he has made to his offensive game, utilizing a variety of athletic post-moves en route to a 17-point performance. Like the rest of the team, Jefferson had his struggles at the free throw line (3-6). Defensively, he was pretty solid, considering the circumstances, and was the only starter to commit less than four fouls. So far, he has certainly looked the part of the breakout player so many have predicted him to be.

Final Stats: 17 points (7-9 FG, 3-6 FT), 2 rebounds, assist, turnover, 3 personal fouls

Rodney Hood: C-/C

I, along with many others, had this game pegged as the game where Hood would put himself on the map, nationally, but he faded into mediocrity early and never reappeared. Whether it was the missed shots, the missed free throws, the turnovers, or the poor defensive performance, Hood was a disappointment in his first big game in a Duke uniform.

Final Stats: 11 points (3-8 FG, 1-2 3pt, 4-7 FT), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 4 personal fouls

Jabari Parker: A

Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots over Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) in the second half at United Center. Kansas won 94-83. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Parker not only lived up to the hype last night, he took a sledgehammer to it and blew past it. For a large majority of the game, the freshman–playing in just the second game of his college career–threw the entire team on his back and kept them hanging with the Jayhawks. Between the highlight reel dunks/layups, the long jumpers, the selfless passing, the physical rebounding, and the non-stop hustle, I think we realized how special of a player Duke has on their hands last night. He did waver a bit down the stretch, but I won’t hold it against him too much. Being the only consistent force for your team for thirty or so minutes will do that to you, and the sudden onslaught of foul calls on both teams seemed to wreck his rhythm.

Final Stats: 27 points (9-18 FG, 4-7 3pt, 5-5 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 steals, assist, block, two turnovers, 5 personal fouls

Rasheed Sulaimon: B

Sulaimon has adjusted well to his new role as Duke’s sixth-man. While he was a bit erratic at times, the sophomore provided a strong source of offense for a Duke team that needed it badly. Just as Parker began to slip, Sulaimon stepped up and scored ten points in the final eight minutes to keep them within firing distance. I was really interested in seeing how ‘Sheed would respond after losing his starting role to Thornton, and so far, he has been pretty freaking solid.

Final Stats: 13 points (5-10 FG, 1-3 3pt, 2-4 FT), rebound, assist, 4 personal fouls

Alex Murphy: N/A

Played three uneventful minutes. Threw up an ugly miss from the corner early in the contest.

Final Stats: 1 personal foul

Marshall Plumlee: N/A

The third Plumlee clearly isn’t ready to be much of a contributor yet. MP3 came on for three minutes and looked completely overmatched against the wildly athletic Kansas team.

Final Stats: assist

Josh Hairston: N/A

Played nine minutes, but didn’t do enough to really leave any sort of a mark on the game. Once again, he managed to collect more fouls (3) than points (2).

Final Stats: 2 points (1-1 FG, 0-2 FT), steal, 3 personal fouls