Why We Hate Duke: The Offense

We all like to say that Duke only shoots 3s. And it’s true, they do take a hell of a lot of 3s. In fact, I’d hazard to assume they take way more threes than anyone in ACC. It’s my opinion, so it’s science.

But here’s the thing, K’s offense isn’t necessarily designed to be focused on 3-pointers. It’s not quite the same as the NFL, but it’s still called the spread offense.

There are a number of screens set in the initial run-through. The first look is often for a back-door pass. But you also have to consider some of the recent players that Dook recruited: Scheyer, Singler, Smith, Redick, Randolph, Thomas, Plumlee(s) and — excuse me while I chuckle — Zoubek.

Most of those guys LOVE the three. Ever watched a Duke player drive the basket? His teammates’ eyes get all big and they run to the 3-point line, frantically clapping their hands as if the potential two-point drive will upset the basketball Gods. And I know some of you will agree that when Duke’s offense breaks down, there are four players on the wing waiting to take a shot.

Now some of you will be saying “big deal.” The offense is designed for those drive and dish looks. But you’re missing the underlying effects of playing in such an offense, and it’s a reason to hate Duke.

One of my biggest qualms with the 3-pointer idiot savants is that they just play the game wrong. Whether it’s the flopping, the emphasis placed on drawing fouls or the floor slapping. There’s something about Duke basketball that’s just not right. And when they’re re-introduced to playing with others (i.e. the NBA), their methods just don’t seem to translate.

Going back to those players I mentioned earlier. These players are also the types that will do, without question, whatever Coach K says.  Blindly, stumbling forward, they run that offense to a T. K was a psychology major, and he puts it to use. His system is so ingrained in his players that it totally takes away any individual flair or natural talent they once had.

“When we look at it, we always say you know Duke is a great college school. None of their guys come out and become great players in the pros because they don’t have that in their blood. …. Even to this day that still is ingrained in all Carolina guys. There’s no way you’re going to like anything about Duke.” — Michael Jordan

What undoubtedly happens after one year in the system is that if you’re not good enough to play in the NBA, you usually end up staying four years. Take Redick. The best player on the roster for probably three years, yet did he ever flirt with the NBA? Redick stayed four years, only to lose on his senior night to a future four-year player who would actually win a national championship. Redick could have left after his junior season, but the reality was that he didn’t have anything besides that jump shot. Why? That jump shot worked in Duke’s system. Redick spent his entire senior year attempting to develop some other basic skills that NBA players need.

What’s more, this tendency to stay four years actually makes the Duke students EXPECT it of their players. The pricks have no sense of what’s best for their team’s players in the long run. Who can forget Elton Brand’s e-mail with a Duke alum about his decision to leave early? Just an excerpt:

Never being considered a part of your posh group of yuppies really hurts me to the heart. Yeah, right. Because I don’t care about you or your alumni.

Elton Brand #42 NBA

If you think about the Duke players that have stood out in the NBA recently – Brand, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Corey Maggette – None of them stayed four years. I would argue a Duke player’s success in the pros in inversely related to the amount of time spent in Durham. Whereas at UNC it’s almost a moot point. The players that are great at Carolina – barring injuries – are great in the NBA, regardless of time spent at UNC.

That’s why it’s so exciting to watch Carolina basketball. Each player’s personality comes through on the court. Whether it was Rashad McCants’ casualness, or Tyler Hansbrough’s tenacity. The devils just play the game wrong because they operate like a machine, a flopping, slapping, boring machine. It’s uninspiring, frustrating and just ugly to watch.

Of the myriad reasons to hate Dook, it’s one that just gets to the core of basketball. It should be fun, both for the players and for the fans.