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My Player Wish & Hope List for this Year

By October 2, 2013No Comments

Matt Jones:

I hope that Matt absorbs as much as he can from Andre Dawkins as he will only have him around for this year, no one has gone through more than Andre and what better mentor for a young shooter at Duke than Dawkins. I also hope that Jones continues the process he began in high school by working to make himself more than just a shooter.  Like J.J. Redick before him I hope he utilizes the forgotten arm (if a boxer repeatedly delivers blows with his left arm, his opponent will focus all of his attention on blocking the punches from the left, leaving him open for a surprise uppercut from the forgotten right arm) in addition to his ability to drive the ball and slash to the hoop.”

Andre Dawkins:

As I stated earlier no one has been through as much as Dre and what I wish for Dre is peace this season, no matter how the season goes just peace and enjoyment. Basketball-wise what I would like to see is a close kinship as I said early with the freshman Matt Jones. Just like at a Montessori school with mixed age classes where the older kids teach the younger kids thereby underscoring and reaffirming what they have learned themselves that could be beneficial for the senior, also an expansion inward of his game which I know is on the menu this season.

Quinn Cook:

For Quinn it’s easy, just keep being the heart and soul of the team on the floor, keep being excited and excitable and keep trending towards better and better play. Steady is what Duke needs and he is more than capable of taking steady and making it into greatness. He along with Jabari Parker will make the others on this team greater than they would be singularly.

Rasheed Sulaimon:

Rasheed had an up and down year but clearly is one of the best players on this team, he can be sort of a Nolan Smith type player for this years team, capable of bringing the ball up even though his natural position is the off-guard. He is probably the best on the team at cutting and slashing to the hoop and if he has worked on his mid-range game, handle and strength then my wish is granted. What I hope for is for him to,  like Cook, continue the trend from last year but to also put together strings of games where he is dominant instead of a game here and there. Consistency is my hope for Rasheed.

Tyler Thornton:

There isn’t much I need to hope for with Tyler Thornton that he hasn’t already delivered but since this is the nature of the post I will say a thing or two. I would love to see Thornton become more of an instinctual point guard, meaning when running the offense I would love to see him deliver the ball and set his teammates up in positions to be effective. We’ve seen Thornton excel at the off-guard position hitting threes in the corner but when spelling Quinn Cook it would be beneficial if there was no drop off in the offensive attack.

Rodney Hood:

Hood and Jabari Parker have a lot on their shoulders this year, what I hope for Hood is similar to what I hope for Jabari. Do not let expectations of others drive your process. There was lots of talk of draft status and this and that. The only noise that should matter, the only chatter that needs to be listened to is that from teammates and coaches. The success that Hood has this  year will depend on how he and his teammates blend, so if he is submitting to the process (and all accounts are that he is) then I can check this one off the list. From a basketball perspective as pure as his jump-shot is, and from his teammates mouths it’s as pure and beautiful as they come,  I hope he will use his ability to handle the ball in traffic to break down his opponents as well. Posting up is a part of his game that I hear he is working on and I would love to see that as a part of his arsenal from day 1.

Semi Ojeleye:

How Semi will adjust will  be one of the unknowns of this year. It’s hard to tell how he will do being a freshman on the big stage. What I do know is that he is a patient person and player and understands that the race isn’t won in the first quarter mile. The player Semi is today is not the player he will be at the end of his journey, so what I hope for him is to not be discouraged at his role this year. It could be big, it could be small but he will be practicing against and learning from the best there is so embrace it and run with it.

Alex Murphy:

What I hope for Murphy is SWAGGER, I want Alex to feel like he owns that court. I want him to feel like he is the player #DukeNation knows he is. I’m hoping for less space between those flashes of brilliance. Alex belongs on the big stage, I hope he knows it because it is very easy to root for him. I think also if his mid-range jump-shot is on point and on par with his long range shot then we can fully weaponize the one they call robocop.

Amile Jefferson:

My hope for Amile is that the muscle and weight he put on stands the rigors of the season and that he is able to compete physically with the bigs he will face in college basketball. Having watched him in high school he was often asked to guard bigger players so it’s nothing new to the sophomore and I think his current frame will definitely  aid in that. If Duke can compete down low with traditional bigs then the outlook for this season gets even brighter.

Jabari Parker:

A lot is being put on the young freshman and while I think he can handle it I truly hope he doesn’t end up overwhelmed. People handle expectations differently and the freshman says all the right things. It has been noted by the coaches that he will not be a defined position that sort of freedom can be hard to deal with for some and others thrive on it. I hope that Jabari accepts and is hungry for that type of freedom on the court. He is a big man with big expectations. If he allows his instincts to guide him I think he has a fantastic freshman year. A lot of freshman tend to get caught up in their own heads but I am hoping the work the coaches are doing with him now will allow him to be instinctual and feed off of what happens instead of going into a mental checklist.

Josh Hairston:

What I hope for Josh is to take full advantage of every opportunity he has on the court, to play every minute like it’s the final minute. I also hope that he provides leadership to the youngsters on the team, not only when its pre-season and everything is all smiles but when things aren’t necessarily so rosy. Chips will not always be up and Hairston like Thornton and Dawkins knows what that’s like and what to expect.

Marshall Plumlee:

It’s very easy to pick out what to hope for in regards to MP3 – starting with a full season of health. Its hard to work on your game when you are constantly either booted or rehabbing. So health is the first thing, and the second thing I would hope is for him to drink a little confidence juice. He isn’t the most offensively polished big, and that is partially due to his lack of health so I hope that Marshall is able to use the gifts that come naturally to him. His height and size are a weapon and if he is able to master his footwork and positioning he can be a very big factor for Duke this year. Rebounding and recycled possessions will be HUGE as well as defending the rim.

Nick Pagliuca & Todd Zafirovski:

I can join my hopes for them both because they are exactly the same. They may not see much playing time but if they go full-hard in practice it will make this team that much more game ready. They are valuable because this team is only going to be as good as they practice and Pags and Zaf are huge parts of that process.