Triangle and Two: Three random thoughts … and then two more 3/28/13


1. The son also rises: Duke assistant Chris Collins accepted the head coaching job at Northwestern on Wednesday.  As a junior, Collins suffered through the worst Duke season in a generation, going 13-18.  In the 17 years since then, Northwestern has had a record as bad or worse nine times. They also had nine straight years in the late 80s with worse records, and 12 out of 13 years from 1969 to 1982.

Collins’ much-deserved head coaching opportunity means that Harvard (Tommy Amaker), Stanford (Johnny Dawkins), and Northwestern all have former Blue Devils at the helm. Notre Dame, coached by former Krzyzewski assistant Mike Brey, gives the Coach K tree a stranglehold on basketball at elite private universities.

Given that pattern, where can we expect the other two veterans of Coach K’s current staff to end up?  After coaching Oklahoma, it’s doubtful that Jeff Capel would consider any Ivy job or Vanderbilt—when it comes open—a step up.  Villanova or Georgetown would be good fits.

As for Steve Wojciechowski, what private school could use a fiery leader with more than a decade’s experience on ACC sidelines?  You guessed it:  Wake Forest.


2. Barth haters: If you didn’t see Brett Friedlander’s outstanding column on UNC kicker Casey Barth’s debacle of a pro day, you should read it immediately.  Barth was relegated to a separate field and was completely ignored by NFL scouts most of the day, before one scout finally gave him a look on one kick, which Barth missed.

Granted, the scouts could have been more respectful, but, playing devil’s advocate for a second, let’s remember that Barth is a kicker.  He was off on his own, separate from everyone else, and no one paid any attention to him.  That sounds like every kicker at every NFL minicamp, training camp and midseason practice I’ve ever attended.

And scouts have plenty of game film to tell them all they need to know about Barth’s leg. What they need to learn about is his head. He might stand around all afternoon in the cold, swirling wind in Green Bay, only to be asked to perform on one kick, at the end of the day, with everything on the line.

On a kind of chilly day in Chapel Hill, Barth stood around all afternoon, and then was asked to perform on one kick, at the end of the day. He pulled it left.  As Barth would tell you, that’s the life of a kicker.  Sometimes you don’t get a second chance.


3. One and done:  Thanks to the double-bonus rule, this is kind of a minor statistical point, but, shouldn’t a player who misses the front end of a one-and-one get charged with TWO missed free throws, since he lost the chance to take a second one with his miss?

Mason Plumlee led Duke with six misses on front-ends this season.  If he got tagged with six more misses to account for lost free-throw opportunities, his shooting percentage at the line would drop from .672 to .664.  As a team, Duke missed 17 front-ends, enough to cause a 10-point drop in the Blue Devils’ .732 percentage. Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton missed three each.  Seth Curry and Amile Jefferson each missed two, and Quinn Cook missed one.


4.  Shut my mouth: In the old days, sportswriters would occasionally have to deal with athletes who were upset about something they’d written. And the vast majority of the time, a friend or relative had told the athlete about how “that guy was killing you”. Anyone who’s been in that situation knows that the first question you ask an angry athlete is, “Did you read it yourself?” and offer to go through it with them to see what they found offensive.

Now, with the explosion of social media, the friends and relatives can just cut out the middle man and call you out themselves, as I learned when I decided to bring up the whole “bedtime/grandma” controversy again while whining about Duke’s late start time last weekend.

Now, I don’t know if I could call the right play in a time out to beat coach Rick Lewis, who happens to be Tyler’s dad, but he was able to come into my field of expertise and beat me in the funny-line game.

@krestduketba We have given permission and Tyler can now stay up to midnight. Thanks for the concern 🙂

— Rick Lewis (@Coach_Rick57) March 27, 2013

The other saying we used to have in the old days is that, when it came to having words with an athlete, the guy with the pen always has the last word.  Again, in social media, that’s not the case.

Kudos to coach Rick.  I’ll be ready for you next time.


5. Pro tips: Lorenzo Brown declaring for the NBA Draft was no surprise. Coach Mark Gottfried saying that he was expected to go late first round was a little more of a jolt. Brown always seemed like a player who would be a better fit for the pro game. At 6’5”, I like his chances of running the point in the league, even though it’ll likely be in the second quarter, as a backup. If Gottfried’s estimates are correct, lottery teams will take 6’0” PG Trey Burke and 6’3” SG CJ McCollum, while a successful team will grab Brown at the end of the first, and all of them will end up drafting in similar positions the following year. Rumors abound that UNC SG P.J. Hairston is leaning toward declaring for the draft. @ProBasketballDraft said Thursday that it was “likely” and SB Nation’s Phoenix Suns blog said it was “a forgone conclusion he will bolt for the NBA.”

Hairston had a strong final month of the season, and his shot has become much more dependable, but he’s still not NBA ready.  Coach Roy Williams joked about his lack of toughness as recently as the ACC Tournament, when he called Hairston “a pansy.” His wide shoulders give him more of an NBA look than Austin Rivers had at this time last year, but, like Rivers, it’s tough to envision him holding up physically for 82 games at this point.


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