Gerry Broome/Associated Press
You can’t blame this, or any loss, on just one player. The game against North Carolina was most certainly a team failure. However, Quinn Cook is killing Duke.
When he’s bad, he’s beyond terrible. When he’s good, he’s still kind of bad. That is the essence of the enigma that is Quinn Cook.
Cook had 17 points against the Tar Heels, which tied him with Jabari Parker as Duke’s leading scorer. And yet he still did things that directly contributed to Duke’s downfall.
Despite being the only Blue Devil not to get in foul trouble, Cook’s defense was far from laudable. He did have one really nice steal, but his ball pressure certainly wasn’t up to snuff. Despite a couple of great assists, Cook had two ghastly turnovers. And despite scoring 17 points, Cook killed a couple offensive possessions with inexcusably bad shots or by aimlessly dribbling around until way too late in the shot clock.
Ultimately, when Cook isn’t shooting well, he’s unable to contribute much to Duke. When he is shooting well, he contributes but then overdoes it to the point that he’s forcing threes or unimaginatively dribbling at the top of key for extended periods of time before recklessly trying to drive or launching an ill-advised three.
If Cook is going to play 33 minutes, as he did against North Carolina, then the junior point guard needs to stop negating any positives he brings to the team with empty possessions where he tries to be the next Jason Williams.
Duke can win a national title with Cook playing an understated role where he doesn’t try to do too much. If, on the other hand, he continues to be a liability even when he’s playing well, then every game against a quality opponent is a crapshoot, where if Duke doesn’t have a hot hand, it's likely to go bust.