[Preface – Rasheed Sulaimon]
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I tweeted out my stance on the issue on Tuesday, March 2 upon the release of the article by Duke’s “The Chronicle”. I noted that I would refrain from any further comment until actual information was released, not innuendo, speculation, etc. I hold to that stance and have purposely avoided the fray of messages on all social media platforms.
On the day that Rasheed was dismissed from the Duke University basketball team (not the University itself), I set up a Google news alert feed to capture articles, reports, etc. being released on the subject to keep me apprised on an ongoing basis. Obviously, this feed is not all-inclusive but serves to provide a good snapshot of what various media sources were/are reporting. After reviewing the majority of them, the rampant speculation continues. Most reputable media sources have done a good job of sticking to the facts, but there have been those who find it necessary to weigh in with more innuendo and speculation.
For those of you interested, you can browse through the dozens of links that I have placed here. The results are current as of the time of this writing. The results are current as of the time of this writing.
As with all explosive stories like this, my only advice this early on is to not feed the speculation train, but to focus our energy and time on supporting this basketball team period. Save our thoughts until we all know what really happened. At some point, hopefully soon, Duke University and Coach K will come public with what happened and what they did, and hopefully they behaved properly. If not, feel free to vent, as it will then be justified.
Duke Blue Devils (26-3, 13-3] vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (13-16, 5-11]
Wednesday March 4. 2015 • 8:06 PM • ACC Network/ESPN3 • Durham, NC • Cameron Indoor Stadium
By Randy Dunson
Duke (26-3, 13-3) hosts Wake Forest (13-16, 5-11) Wednesday, March 4 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 8:06 PM with Tim Brant and Dan Bonner calling the action for the ACC Network. The Blue Devils enter the game ranked No. 3 in both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke is 113-23 when ranked No. 3 in the AP Poll. Wake Forest is unranked in both polls. Duke and Kansas are the only teams in the NCAA to rank in the top 10 of the AP Poll (No. 3), USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 3), Ratings Percentage Index (No. 4), and Strength of Schedule (No. 10). Duke is 14-1 at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season and has lost more than one game at home just two times over the past 14 seasons. The Blue Devils have won 47 of the past 48 games at Cameron Indoor Stadium and are 94-4 at home this decade.
Wake Forest will look to even the season series and gain a road win when the Demon Deacons play at No. 3-ranked Duke on Wednesday. The Deacons nearly upset the Blue Devils on January 7, leading late before falling at home to Duke 73-65. Tip-off on Wednesday is scheduled for 8:06 PM at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game will be televised on the ACC Network.
Prior to scoring 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting vs. Pittsburgh (see below), Mitchell Wilbekin had scored 22 points total over the previous six games, going 7-for-32 (22 percent) from the field. Wake Forest is 7-1 when shooting at least 40 percent from 3-point range this season with the only loss coming at No. 2-ranked Virginia. Dinos Mitoglou ranks fourth in the ACC in 3-point percentage (41.7 percent) and ninth in 3-point field goals made (2.2) during conference play. Madison Jones ranks second in the ACC in conference play with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.28 (59 assists/18 turnovers). Codi Miller-McIntyre ranks 14th in scoring (13.7 PPG) and 10th in assists (4.1 APG) during conference play.
2. Last Time Out
Duke Blue Devils
In its last outing, Duke completed a season sweep of Syracuse with a 73-54 win over the Orange Saturday as Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor combined for 36 points and 23 rebounds. Winslow scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, to go along with nine rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Okafor registered his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds. He grabbed seven offensive rebounds and had four assists in the win. Quinn Cook also scored in double figures, finishing with 17 points, while Tyus Jones and Matt Jones each tallied nine points. Duke held Syracuse to 30.6 percent (19-of-62) shooting in the game, including 3-of-20 (.150) from three-point range. The Orange shot just 29.0 percent (9-of-31) in the first half of play.
- Duke started 26-3 during the 2010, 2007, and 2001 seasons (since 1996).
- The win over Syracuse extended the Duke winning streak to nine games.
- The Blue Devils have won every game this season (12-0) after recording eight or more three-pointers.
- Has won every game this season (5-0) when opponents record 54 or fewer total points.
- Has won every game this season (4-0) after holding an opponent to under 15.0 percent three-point percentage.
- This season Duke has won 87 percent of the time (20-3) when Jahlil Okafor has 13 points or more, 88 percent of the time (21-3) when Quinn Cook plays 34 minutes or more, and 100 percent of the time (7-0) when Tyus Jones has six rebounds or more.
- The Blue Devils have outshot their opponents in field goal percentage for the past five games.
- This was the 15th game at home this season–Duke has a 22.5 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
- Justise Winslow accounted for 31.5 percent of the team’s points.
- Justise Winslow has led the team in scoring in three out of 29 games this season.
- Marks the third 20-point game of his career.
- Has had 10 straight double-digit point games.
- JahlilOkafor accounted for 33.3 percent of the team’s rebounds.
- Has led the team in rebounding in 17 out of 29 games this season.
- Recorded the 11th double-digit rebound game of his career.
- Recorded a double-double. It was the 11th of his career.
- Quinn Cook has six straight double-digit point games.
In its last outing, Wake Forest pulled off an upset win over Pittsburgh (69-66) on Senior Night Sunday in Winston-Salem. The Deacons overcame a late seven-point deficit with an 11-1 run. Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half, including eight during the Deacons’ decisive 11-1 run. He had a crucial steal and jumper to tie the score and then found Konstantinos Mitoglou moments later for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:42 remaining. Mitoglou had eight points off the bench on what was billed as “Greek Night” with a large contingent from the Winston-Salem Greek community in attendance. Mitchell Wilbekin led the Deacons with 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range. In addition to his 13 points, Miller-McIntyre led the Deacs with seven rebounds and five assists. Cornelius Hudson also scored in double figures with 11 points and pulled down four boards.
- The last time WFU started the season 13-16 was 2011.
- The Demon Deacons have won five close games this season (a win by five or fewer points). Since 2009, Wake Forest is 26-19 in close games.
- Has won every game this season (4-0) when its three-point percentage has been 45.0 percent or better.
- Has won every game this season (4-0) when opponents record one or fewer blocks.
- WFU set season lows for rebounds (28) and turnovers (6).
- This was the 18th game at home this season–WFU has a 1.9 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
- The top two rebounders (Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas) accounted for 46.4 percent of the rebounds.
- Codi Miller-McIntyre has led the team in rebounding in five out of 29 games this season.
Duke leads the all-time series with Wake Forest, 164-78, following the Blue Devils’ 73-65 win in Winston-Salem earlier this season on January 7. The Wake Forest-Duke series is the oldest in the ACC, dating back to the 1906 season. The series is also the league’s most frequently played, as it is in its 243rd all-time meeting.
In terms of a few key offensive and defensive statistical parameters, Duke predominates in all except for RPG, which gives the Blue Devils a significant statistical edge head-to-head.
|Duke||2014-15 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison||Wake Forest|
|80.7 (+14.9)||PPG (Scoring Margin)||69.6 (-1.2)|
|31.9||Opponent 3PT FG%||32.4|
|37.9 (+6.5)||RPG (Rebound Margin)||38.4 (+3.9)|
|11.4 (+1.0)||Turnovers Per Game (Margin)||13.4 (-1.2)|
4. Four Factors to Winning[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, https://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]
Duke holds a significant edge in all but one of the factors, getting to the free throw line. When looking at eFG%, it is 56.8% to 47.7%. In terms of handling the ball, edge is 17.0% vs. 19.2%. In offensive rebounding, the edge is 37.4% vs. 32.5%. Wake has an edge when it comes to getting to the free throw line (43.2% vs. 41.6%).
5. Key Points to Consider
First, a few points regarding both teams’ overall profile at this point:
- Highly efficient attack
- Stingy defense
- Commits few fouls
- Strong offensive rebounding
Now, a few key points to consider (also refer to the Endgame). These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.
- Sulaimon Issue
- No comment but will the flurry of speculation and innuendo affect player psyche?
- Though a report involving a recently dismissed team member has cast a shadow over the Duke program, the team’s only concerned with building more momentum heading into the postseason
- The report comes as the Blue Devils continue their pursuit of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. A quest they won’t take for granted.
- Stamina & Ankle Woes
- Duke has been playing tired for some time now but I think they will continue to dig deep
- Complete injury status is never revealed but the top two scorers, Okafor & Cook, are being treated daily for different ankle injuries; Grayson Allen as well
- Though not a trainer or sports medicine specialist, I have seen their movements firsthand & my opinion is that they will be able to play through any pain they might have
- Okafor vs. Thomas
- In their meeting in January, Devin Thomas- as he so often does- stepped up to the plate on the big stage. He dominated the paint, converting 12-20 field goals scoring 24 points, five boards, four steals and three assists (mysteriously, he never made it to the foul line)
- Wake limited Okafor to his second-lowest point total and forced him to tie his highest turnover total (five) of the year, but he still finished with 12 points and 11 boards for a double-double
- This time around, Coach K will probably double Thomas more in the middle and clog the paint even more to prevent Miller-McIntyre from penetrating
- Foul Shooting
- I will continue to list this as a key as I view it as a significant problem going into postseason play, particularly for Okafor
- Duke has come close to putting itself in holes all year with poor shots at the line
- They need to be more precise particularly when K goes into what I call his motion stall offense
- Overall, the main key for the Blue Devils is to feed the ball to Okafor at every chance, find open three-point shots, and lock up the offensive glass
In No. 3 Duke’s case, its Achilles’ heel can be found in the bad ankles of its top two scorers, freshman Jahlil Okafor and senior Quinn Cook. Fortunately, for the Blue Devils, they already secured a double-bye in the ACC tournament as they host Wake Forest on Wednesday and despite the injuries are on a roll. Reserve Grayson Allen also has ankle issues.
“We’ve won nine games in a row, and I feel like we are getting better, and everybody’s ready to play and we’re playing for each other so it’s been a lot of fun playing with these guys,” Okafor told reporters after contributing 13 points and 14 rebounds in Duke’s 73-54 victory over Syracuse on Saturday. Cook (15.9 points per game), who suffered his injury against Syracuse, and Okafor will be less than 100 percent as the Blue Devils play their final home contest of the season and attempt to defeat the Demon Deacons for the 16th straight time at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won at Wake Forest 73-65 on January 7 for its ninth victory in the last 10 meetings behind 20 points from freshman Justise Winslow. The Demon Deacons, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 69-66 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday, are 0-6 on the road in ACC contests but four of the setbacks were by a combined 12 points, including two in overtime.
The Demon Deacons look for a win after losing four of their last six games. The Demon Deacons hope to ride the momentum of Sunday’s emotional Senior Night victory as junior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre (team-best 13.7 points per game) scored 11 of his 13 in the second half. Junior forward Devin Thomas (12.2 points, team-high 9.1 rebounds) on Sunday became the 51st player in school history to record 1,000 points. On the season, Wake Forest is averaging 69.6 points on 42 percent shooting and is allowing 70.8 points on 44.1 percent shooting. Codi Miller-McIntyre is averaging 13.7 points and 4.1 assists while Devin Thomas is averaging 12.2 points and 9.1 rebounds. Konstantinos Mitoglou is grabbing 4.6 rebounds and Mitchell Wilbekin is dishing 1.7 assists. They have five players averaging at least 7.5 points, and they’re shooting 64.2 percent from the line and 33.8 percent from deep. Defensively, Wake is allowing 32.4 percent shooting from deep and has given up 70 or more points in seven of its last nine games.
The Blue Devils, who conclude their regular season Saturday at No. 19 North Carolina, are in excellent position to gain a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and appear on a collision course to meet No. 2 Virginia in the ACC tournament final. They have won nine straight and play their last home game. On the season, Duke is averaging 80.7 points on 50.1 percent shooting and is allowing 65.8 points on 42.8 percent shooting. Jahlil Okafor is averaging 18.2 points and 9.6 rebounds (team highs) while Quinn Cook is averaging 15.9 points and 2.9 assists. Justise Winslow is grabbing 5.8 rebounds and Tyus Jones is dishing a team-best 5.7 assists. The Devils have four double-digit scorers, and they’re shooting 68.4 percent from the line and 38.7 percent from deep. Defensively, Duke is allowing 31.9 percent shooting from deep and has given up 66 or less points in five of its last 10 games. Duke was fourth in the nation in scoring (80.7 points) and third in field-goal percentage (50.1) entering Tuesday. Jones, Okafor, and Winslow on Monday were among 10 finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award, given to the nation’s top freshman.
With so much on the line and with Cook being the only senior bowing out, I see the Devils continuing their winning ways. Duke will prevail 80-68.