Saturday, November 23, 2013

0 comments Bleacher Report Tells Us Jabari Parker is a Turning Point for Duke Basketball, Except He Isn't

Bleacher Report is always an interesting to read. There are tons of unpaid writers who are looking to write something that gets attention for themselves. So I often read things that aren't especially well-written, but take a strong stand against/for something. Attention is what it is about. Then you have articles that are supposed to be well-thought out and not attention-grabbing, but they are just wrong. We have an article like that today. The author of the column says Jabari Parker and the hype around him presents a unique challenge for Duke basketball and Coach K. I think other recruits have gotten more hype and I also think any hype around Jabari Parker isn't anything Coach K hasn't seen before. He was the coach of the Men's Olympic Basketball team twice and has coached for over 30 years at Duke, but for some reason the author thinks Jabari Parker changes the Duke basketball program permanently and presents a change in the direction of the program.

There aren't many things left on Mike Krzyzewski's professional bucket list.

Outside of back-to-back-to-back national titles (which will never ever happen again) there isn't anything else he could do at Duke. Yep, he's a good coach, moving on...

He's won four national championships, been to 11 Final Fours and coached tens of future NBA standouts.

"Tens of?" Just say dozens. Also, Arizona Wildcats fans say Duke has won three national championships because the 2001 National Title Game was an officiating abomination and the Wildcats should have won that national title.

The list of accomplishments is long enough to write a second Declaration of Independence. This season, he'll be trying to add another: managing the hype of incoming prep star Jabari Parker.

For those of us paying attention, which I include myself among them, the hype machine for freshmen so far appears to be in this order:

Andrew Wiggins
The Kentucky recruiting class
Jabari Parker

So really, there is hype, but not more than most other talented freshmen are receiving. Austin Rivers and Kyrie Irving had a ton of hype coming into college well and Coach K managed the hype very well. He managed Austin Rivers, who wasn't exactly loved by his teammates, very well during Rivers' year at Duke. So managing Jabari Parker is going to be much easier than that. That's where this entire column falls apart. The author acts like Parker is the type of player Coach K has never seen before when this could not be further from the truth. Parker is low maintenance, talented, and by all accounts a good kid. There is nothing Parker presents that Coach K hasn't seen before, no matter how much the author wants to make it seem like there is. Jabari Parker, as we have seen, is a great player. Still, managing the hype of Parker doesn't seem like something it would be difficult for Coach K to do. I'm sure he has had bigger expectations and hype to manage during his coaching career.

As the Blue Devils prepare for their season-opening clash against Davidson on Friday night, the conversation is fixated on Parker, as if his mere presence is that of an endangered species.

I can't speak for Duke fans everywhere, but most Duke fans I know wanted to see Rodney Hood play as much as they want to see Parker. The conversation really wasn't as fixated on Parker as much as the author wants to make it seem like. 

Everyone wants to know how he's playing, what his role will be and how this quiet young man will deal with the smoldering spotlight.

Yep, it's not the first time Coach K has had to handle an incoming freshman who has some hype surrounding him. Coach K has coached an Olympic team that had Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony on it. These guys have egos and were only being coached in the short-term by Coach K, so other than pride in their country, they had no reason to buy into what he was teaching and subjugate their egos. So while Parker may not have the maturity of these players, the author is stretching it a bit in acting like finding a role for a talented player is unfamiliar territory for Coach K.

Kansas star Andrew Wiggins' reclassification took the entire onus off Parker a bit. Wiggins is the can't-miss superstar whose expected presence in the 2014 NBA draft is causing Tankapalooza around the Association.

Exactly and that's why there isn't as much pressure on Jabari Parker at Duke. He's surrounded by a talented supporting cast and he isn't expected to carry the entire load of the team.

Remember, though, it was Parker—not Wiggins—who earned the moniker "the best high school basketball player since LeBron James" from Sports Illustrated.

Well, Parker "earned" that moniker in May of 2012. Andrew Wiggins was a sophomore at that point and it was really too early to say he was the best high school basketball player since LeBron James. Parker was a junior and it's not like Parker and Wiggins were on the same grade level at that point, so it would not have been an even comparison. A high school athlete coming off his junior season is much different from a high school athlete coming off his sophomore season. So basically Parker and Wiggins weren't being compared at this point, so it's not like Parker "earned" the moniker over Wiggins.

Parker represents something of a test case for Krzyzewski.

No, he doesn't. Not really.

When Parker, at the time neck and neck Wiggins for the top player in the Class of 2013, decided to attend Duke, it signified a slight changing of the guard at Duke.

It doesn't really, but I guess it's fun to pretend.

By all accounts, Parker is expected to play just one year in college before leaving for the NBA.

Really? By "all accounts" Parker is expected to play just one year in college before leaving for the NBA? I guess by "all accounts" the author isn't including what Jabari Parker has said himself.

I'm don't entirely expect Jabari Parker to stay in college for more than one year, but it's absolutely untrue that by all accounts he is expected to play just one year in college. Parker has gone out of his way to state that he would consider staying in college for more than one year. Maybe he's lying, but even the "Sports Illustrated" article stated he wasn't your typical one-and-done college basketball player.

Schools that recruited Parker did so on the basis of preparing him for the pro game.

That isn't something that Krzyzewski takes lightly.

Especially since Krzyzewski has coached one-and-done players like Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving, and Austin Rivers already. He knows what these one-and-done guys are looking for during their one year in college.

Remember, this is the same Coach K who has spoken out multiple times about the one-and-done rule, which forces players to be at least one year removed from high school before entering the NBA draft.

If this author would do his research he would know that most college coaches hate the one-and-done rule. They do two years of work to recruit a player they only have on-campus for less than eight months? What college coach would actually like the one-and-done rule? So in typical Bleacher Report fashion the author is confusing liking the one-and-done rule with being willing to recruit college athletes who are probably going to be one-and-done. There is a difference.

SEC coaches don't like the one-and-done rule. The poster boy coach, unfairly, for the one-and-done rule doesn't like the one-and-done rule. Calipari has been willing to work his program around college basketball players who are willing to be in college for one year only and not every coach has wanted to do this. Traditionally, Coach K doesn't like to do this, but he has made exceptions. So most college coaches don't like the one-and-done rule because it ruins their hard work and makes it more difficult to keep talented players on the roster for longer periods of time to be coached by them.

His exact phrasing, according to USA Today, was that the NBA "controls college basketball."

Which is absolutely true in my opinion.

It was as curmudgeonly as one would expect from the decidedly old-school coach.

Yes, I guess Coach K is old-school. I don't know how many old-school coaches who appears to be in favor of changing the definition of "amateurism" and indicating the NCAA system isn't working like it should be though. He is old-school, but much of his success as a coach has come from learning new ideas and adapting the Duke team to those new ideas. So if Coach is a curmudgeon because he doesn't like the one-and-done rule, then a lot of college basketball coaches could be considered curmudgeons.

But even if Coach K doesn't love the one-and-done rule, he's slowly coming to embrace it. Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers both entered the draft after one season. Parker will be his third one-and-done in four seasons.

Maybe Parker will be a one-and-done. If you have done any type of research into Jabari Parker you would know he isn't your typical college basketball player who will be a high draft pick. Most people thought Harrison Barnes would be a one-and-done. There is a list of college players who were considered one-and-done over the last few years that really weren't one-and-done. Cody Zeller was thought to be a guy who could be one-and-done, so was Perry Jones III, Isiah Austin, Marcus Smart, Willie Cauley-Stein (just based on the fact he went to Kentucky, it sort of profiles him to be a one-and-done), Kyle Anderson, and Alex Poythress (again, recruiting profiling). My point is you never know what kids will do, so saying Parker is going to be one-and-done is presumptive.

These are changing times at Duke. Irving was considered a one-and-done possibility, but not a guarantee.

This is revisionist history. Kyrie Irving was always considered a one-and-done by most people and only his foot injury really set him back. Plus, there is rarely such a thing as a one-and-done guarantee, so stop writing things like that.

I'm still scratching my head over Rivers' decision to turn pro, as it seems are the NBA teams who have watched his career already go up in flames. 

This is just shitty writing. Rivers' decision to go pro wasn't a head-scratcher of a decision. He appeared to be ready for the NBA after his one year at Duke. His decision to go pro wasn't the problem and shouldn't cause anyone to scratch their head. It is his ability in the NBA that should make you scratch your head and wonder what the hell happened to him. So this writing seems to indicate it was Rivers' decision to go pro that should be questioned, when that's not true. He appeared to be ready to at-worst be a guy who could score points off the bench as a combo guard, so his decision to go pro is a head-scratcher only in wondering why he is so terrible in the NBA.

Parker, by all accounts, is the first player Coach K has recruited and landed during this era where the John Calipari wink-wink agreement was in place.

Rivers was going to be a one-and-done, Irving looked like a one-and-done and if Shawn Livingston had come to Duke (as he had committed to them) then he was going to be a one-and-done. Also, the idea of a "wink-wink agreement" being in place is stupid. There's no winking involved because college basketball players can go to the NBA after one season in college. It's perfectly within the rules and there's no need to act like it isn't.

Krzyzewski must work to manage the Parker hype, while accentuating the young man's talents in a way that engenders his school to more one-and-done type talents. 

You mean sort of like how (in hindsight) he got everything out of Austin Rivers' talent and then Parker committed to Duke after that and Rodney Hood (another guy who is looking at the NBA after this season) transferred to Duke? Parker isn't the test-case for Coach K's new love for the one-and-done rule. The test case(s) already occurred.

There's no turning point here, there's no fork in the road and there is nothing for Coach K to deal with that he hasn't dealt with before. It's all been done and there's no need to be dramatic about Parker committing to Duke.

“I’m not surprised about Rodney,” Krzyzewski said, via the Charlotte Observer's Laura Keeley. “Rodney, every day last year … he handled that situation unbelievably well and many times was our best player.

Again, to nitpick the author...Laura Keeley works for the Raleigh News-Observer mainly. Her columns are farmed out to the Charlotte Observer because both papers are owned by the same company, but she really works for the Raleigh paper. Both papers do seem to like "observing" though, almost as much as I like nit-picking.

It's telling that, rather than give the young captaincy spot to Parker, as one might expect for a player with such considerable hype, Coach K gave it to Hood.

What in the hell is this telling of? Rodney Hood is a redshirt junior and Jabari Parker is a freshman. Coach K will never, and I mean never, give a freshman a captain spot. In fact, 90% of college basketball coaches would not give a captain spot to a freshman. So it's only telling of the policy against naming freshmen as team captains when there are older players who have been in the program longer and been better leaders.

The author never does tell us what Parker not being named a captain is telling of.

Traditional positions are for your stat sheets only. Parker could oscillate between the 3 and 4 all season.

Actually, he will oscillate between the 3, 4, and 5 position on the court. Small details...

The Blue Devils come into the season ranked fourth in the nation. When Krzyzewski spoke at the school's Countdown to Craziness ceremony, he instructed the fans to look up in the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium, where his numerous accomplishments hang down like ghosts of the past. There were the national championships. The Final Fours. The ACC crowns...telling them that each senior class has left with something to hold on to since he's arrived in Durham.

Well, not EVERY senior class has left with something to hold on to since he's arrived at Duke. Just the ones that he has recruited, which isn't any less impressive.

He instructed them that nothing had changed. That they'd get to leave with a lasting memory hanging from the hallowed arena.

But everything has least for the purposes of this article where the author is insisting everything has changed even though it hasn't.

That may be true. But for Krzyzewski to make sure nothing changes, he needs to realize that everything already has.

What? This makes not of sense. To make sure nothing changes, Krzyzweski needs to realize everything has changed? But if everything has changed then he can't make sure nothing changes because everything has already changed. This is what happens when a writer tries to play around with deep thoughts. They write something that sounds deep, but in fact could very well be gibberish.

Starting with Parker.

Not at all. Parker hasn't changed anything. He is just a recruit who committed to play for Duke and may only stay at the school for one year. Coach K has dealt with these types of recruits before and will deal with them again. Don't be dramatic in order to churn out a column. The nature of college basketball is that teams change from year-to-year, but let's not be so dramatic about what Jabari Parker supposedly represents to the Duke program.