Andre Dawkins: Duke's Disappearing Devil

Curtis ClontzCorrespondent IIJanuary 8, 2012

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils talks Andre Dawkins #20 of the Duke Blue Devils during a game against the Michigan State Spartans during the 2011 State Farms Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Once upon a time, Andre Dawkins was assumed to be a surprising addition to the Duke roster as he graduated high school and joined the crew early. His sniper of a jump shot was a welcome addition and Duke faithful enjoyed the fan favorite as he nailed shot after shot.

Now in his junior season, Dawkins was supposed to step up and help Seth Curry run this team. Andre was supposed to improve his scoring average and be yet another dead-eye shooter to help this team progress.

As the season-long marathon continues, something very strange has happened to Andre; he has simply vanished.

Early in the year, Dawkins was the shooter many expected, as he tallied scoring totals of 26, 10, 14 and several other double-digit games. Shooters are typically streaky, but the key thing to note is that through the entire season, only three times has he had back-to-back double-digit games.

That stat alone will make some scratch their heads. This is, after all, the junior who frequently plays for 30-plus minutes and has the potential to be as important as anyone else on the team.

This hot and cold player has been M.I.A. since before Christmas. If you take a look at his last four games, it shows an eerie pattern that Duke fans won’t like.

12/30 vs. Western Michigan:  1-of-6 for two points

1/1 vs. Penn:  2-of-7 for six points

1/4 vs. Temple:  0-of-3 for zero points

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Andre Dawkins #20 of the Duke Blue Devils lays the ball up while taking on the Hampton Pirates in the second half during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

1/7 vs. Georgia Tech:  1-of-5 for six points

The pattern is simple: If Andre is not feeling it, then he simply shies away from shooting. He basically knows from the jump whether he is there that day or not and it doesn’t look like he can “find it” in the middle of the game.

In all four of those games, he only hit four three-point shots—a number that he reached in one game versus UNCG.

So what does it take to get Andre going again? Easier said than done: Duke needs a point guard. They have now inserted Quinn Cook into the starting role, and as his role expands so will the shots for everyone else’s.

Cook may not be the end-all, be-all answer, but he is the closest thing Duke has to a natural PG on the roster. The reason one player could be the difference in Dawkins’ positive play is because Dawkins can not create his own shot.

He is a great shooter and nothing more. Leave him alone and he can kill you, but throw an average athletic player on him that can disrupt his shot, and you lose him altogether.

Using Cook to spread the floor, Duke could also use a guard version of a screen-and-pop offense. This would make the defenders pick their poison and possibly open a few more shots for Dawkins. Another tactic that Duke could use is a low screen from the Plumlees or Ryan Kelly along the baseline. This allows Dawkins to run along the perimeter and sweep past the screens, getting the open shot.

All easier said than done for a guy who is considered to be an average athlete.

This season is not a wash for Dawkins, and he is almost certain to have a “coming out” party. Each and every Duke fan is hoping that when this happens, the light bulb won’t go out and will keep him running for the rest of the season.

If Andre can snap out of it and insert himself into the offense for this team, then they instantly get better. Having a threat off of the bench like Dawkins would be a huge addition to the team, and possible just what they need to finally stop Coach K’s tinkering.