Duke Basketball: Why Quinn Cook Has to Learn to Be Coach K's Floor General
Ready or not, Quinn Cook, the Duke Blue Devils are your team now. It’s certainly not his team in the sense that he must be a scoring stud, like one-and-done Dukie Austin Rivers was last season for Mike Krzyzewski.
But it is his team in the sense that he’s likely to be the man at the point guard position this upcoming season in Durham. Being point guard at Duke is certainly not an enviable job.
It’s one that comes with lots of pressure and expectations, especially considering that you’re following in the footsteps of greats like Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams and Kyrie Irving.
So is Cook ready to handle the pressure? He’s going to have to be and here are some reasons why.
He Was a Highly Touted Recruit
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Back in 2011, much attention was paid to stud Duke prospect (and future NBA pro) Austin Rivers, and rightfully so. Rivers was the top-rated player in the Rivals Class of 2011 and was a huge get for Duke and Mike Krzyzewski at the time.
But let’s not forget that in that same class, point guard Quinn Cook was a highly regarded prospect in his own right. For starters, Cook was the floor general for the prestigious Oak Hill Academy out of Virginia.
In case you’re not aware, Oak Hill has produced countless NBA players over the years, including the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and former Blue Devils William Avery and Nolan Smith.
In addition, Rivals considered Cook to be a Top 40 player and a 4-star point guard coming out of Oak Hill. With those particular credentials, it’s time Cook starts living up to his promising potential.
He Can Help the New Recruits Get Acclimated
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The Duke haters can scoff all they want, but this year’s recruiting class is a very promising one for Mike Krzyzewski and his Blue Devils. Down low, you have the last of the Plumlee brothers in redshirt freshman Marshall ready to contribute, along with highly coveted forward Amile Jefferson out of Philadelphia.
Coupled with the next coming of Kyle Singler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (supposedly) in redshirt freshman Alex Murphy and USA Under-18 National team member Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke’s has another strong group of diaper dandies on its hands.
It would be nice if Duke point guard Quinn Cook can play well and get these freshmen involved early and often in the upcoming season. If Cook can provide easy looks to Plumlee and Jefferson down low and Murphy and Sulaimon on the perimeter, it can help them gain confidence and perhaps ease their transition from high school to college basketball.
Duke Needs to Return to Its Drive-and-Dish System
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Duke lacked a true, proven point guard last season, and it showed in a couple of key situations. The Blue Devils bowed out of the ACC semifinals in March, succumbing to Florida State’s tantalizing half-court defense in the process.
If Mike Krzyzewski had a more viable point guard option other than Austin Rivers or Seth Curry last year, then perhaps the Blue Devils would’ve won yet another ACC tourney title. A lack of a true, proven point guard came back to haunt Duke in the very next game—an embarrassing loss to lowly Lehigh in the NCAA tournament.
Instead of relying on Coach K’s proven offensive system of penetrating the lane and kicking out to open shooters (also known as “drive-and-dish”), Rivers elected to play hero ball. He tried to match Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum point-for-point and in the end, Duke was bounced from the dance early.
With Rivers gone to the NBA and Quinn Cook entering his second season, let’s hope that Cook is the man to get Duke back to its driving-and-dishing ways. In college, it’s definitely a more effective offense than isolation plays.
If Cook is truly the right man at the point, then Duke’s offense could return to its deadly ways, considering how many lethal outside shooters are currently on the roster.
He's the Best Option for Duke
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Some are pondering whether or not Quinn Cook is truly the right man to run Duke’s offense this upcoming season. But the bottom line is that Cook is pretty much the only option at the point guard position.
Yes, senior Seth Curry is capable of manning the point guard duties occasionally. However, given that Curry thrives as a spot shooter, point guard isn’t his cup of tea; nor is it his golden ticket to playing professional basketball.
And guard Tyler Thornton’s strengths come via his defensive prowess, and not his offensive game. With no other viable point guards on the roster, Duke is going to sink or swim in 2012-'13 with Captain Cook running the ship in Durham.
We’ll find out just how smoothly that ship will sail this upcoming fall and winter.