This is the first of what will become a weekly blog for...
Austin Rivers Sucks!
I’ve heard a lot of that on Twitter not only today but all last year. I never like hearing that about a Duke player, let alone from Duke fans. Fans are going to criticize a player. That’s unavoidable. I’ve had my fair share of criticisms of Tyler Thornton. But I never say he sucks. I never thought he was an awful player. I know without him we don’t beat Kansas in Maui.
Look, I think Austin was a good offensive player and saved Duke on many occasions last season. Obviously we wouldn’t have beat Carolina without him (and we wouldn’t have 3 recruits going to Chapel Hill to re-enact the shot). That being said, he did have this shortcomings as a player. He had a score first mentality which at times caused the offense to stall. He was also from time-to-time, too cocky for his own good. Rivers wasn’t the best at defense. Remember, he was just a freshmen, coming from a high school team that was all his. He was the man. That is extremely hard for a freshmen to get out of that mentality. Especially one who could score like Rivers. Still…he didn’t suck. Get over it!
Why was I hearing it today? Because of Rasheed Sulaimon’s performance in not only the Blue/White game, but today’s exhibition against Division II Champion Western Washington. Today he finished with 20 points, but what impressed me the most was whenever he had the ball in his hands he was looking to pass before he looked for his own shot. He had several drives to the basket, open threes, passes down low, to go along with his defense which we already knew would be solid. He may not be the offensive weapon Austin Rivers is, but he is a more complete player than Rivers. That is why a lot of people feel the chemistry will be better, and the offense will run better. That I do not doubt at all. There seemed to be more movement in the offense and you had a variety of scorers from Sulaimon, to Ryan Kelly, to Mason Plumlee, and even Amile Jefferson hit double figures.
I really was impressed with Amile Jefferson today. I wasn’t sure going into this season exactly how much playing time he would get, but he got quite a bit today. He played with a lot of energy and had a good day on both ends of the floor. I already knew in a way what to expect from Sulaimon, but I wasn’t sure about Jefferson. If he can keep this up all year, he will be a major contributor to this Duke team.
Duke still has work to do on the defensive end, especially in transition, and Quinn Cook, while he played well, needs to be more sound with the ball. Too many silly turnovers for a point guard of his caliber.
Watching today only got me even more excited for the start of the season. Duke will take it’s lumps, but I think this is a team that come March will be one to contend with. I think by then, you’ll see that the comparisons to the 2012 team were not that far off.
By the way…if anyone sucks…it’s CAROLINA! #GTHC!
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons