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the chronicle

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

sportsstaff Editor: Daniel Carp Managing Editor: Matt Pun Editor-elect: Nick Martin Online Editor: Bobby Colton Photo Editor: Eric Lin Senior Editors: Andrew Beaton, Ashley Mooney Associate Editors: Zac Elder, Sarah Elsakr, Ryan Hoerger, Karl Kingma, Vaishnavi Krishnan, Danielle Lazarus, Michael Schreiner, Jay Sullivan Staff Writers: Olivia Banks, Madeline Carrington, Grant Costa, Lucas Hubbard, Delaney King, Helen Liljenwall, Brian Mazur, Ryan Neu, Brian Pollack, Amrith Ramkumar, Josh Rosen, Alex Serebransky, Sammy Solomon, Rooshil Shah, Ali Wells Special thanks to: Editor-in-Chief Danielle Muoio, Managing Editor Sophia Durand, Photography Editor Elysia Su, Online Photography Editor Thanh-Ha Nguyen, Towerview Photography Editor Jennie Xu ———————— The men’s basketball NCAA tournament preview is a sports supplement published annually by The Chronicle. It can be read online at: www.dukechronicle.com ———————— Founded in 2007 and renamed in 2011, the Blue Zone is the sports section’s daily presence online: www.sports.chronicleblogs.com ———————— Follow us on Twitter at @dukebasketball

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What’s inside

4 6 8

PARKER FINDS A HOME

Freshman Jabari Parker has found his place at Duke

THE STORY OF ‘SHEED

Rasheed Sulaimon takes us inside his roller-coaster season

WHICH DUKIE ARE YOU? A Blue Devil tribute to ridiculous Buzzfeed quizzes

5 7 9

BOLSTERING DUKE’S D

The key to a championship lies on the defensive end

NO FOUL, NO HARM

A closer look at the Blue Devils’ foul woes in big games

WEST REGION

Who will emerge from a region with no clear favorite?

10-11

MIDWEST REGION

A look at Duke’s path through March’s toughest region.

12 17

EAST REGION

Can Virginia make it past a hot Michigan State squad?

BY THE NUMBERS

Taking a closer look at Duke’s Midwest Region

13 19

SOUTH REGION

Will anyone unseat top overall seed Florida?

FRESHMEN WATCH

Breaking down the Big Dance’s premier diaper dandies

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MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

The Chronicle

JABARI PARKER FINDS A NEW HOME by Daniel Carp The Chronicle

In his first—and likely only—season with the Blue Devils, Jabari Parker wasted no time becoming one of college basketball’s household names. But Parker did not just come to Duke to score 19.3 points per game, learn from head coach Mike Krzyzewski and have a shot at hoisting a national championship trophy. He came to Duke because he wanted to be part of a culture where basketball was celebrated. “The people here at Cameron just helps us keep moving,” Parker said. “It’s something very important to me because I never came from something so important, so big, because in high school a lot of our home fans didn’t want to see us succeed.”

“In all reality, they didn’t want to see us achieve.” Jabari parker duke freshman forward

The Chicago native is no stranger to winning championships, guiding his team at Simeon Career Academy to an unprecedented four straight Illinois state championships during his high school career. If the Blue Devils are the ones cutting down the nets in Dallas in three weeks, the only difference for Parker will be the size and shape of the championship trophy he hoists.

Winning four state championships and having one of the top college prospects in the country was not enough to drum up major support for the Simeon program. Having a supportive campus culture was one of the main things that led Parker to commit to Duke 14 months ago, but it wasn’t until the freshman first arrived on campus that he truly understood what that meant. “It was just a selective few that was always supportive of my high school. In all reality, they didn’t want to see us achieve,” Parker said. “When I’m here I see all the love and support. It’s more than just one person—it’s about the whole program.” Parker didn’t waste any time getting the loyal Duke fan base in his corner. He electrified the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium in his first collegiate game, scoring 22 points in just 23 minutes on 8-of-10 shooting in a blowout win against Davidson. Seemingly unstoppable through the end of nonconference play, Parker fell back down to earth hard when he played his first ACC games. Rims seemed to become more hostile along with road environments as Parker’s efficiency dipped well below the superhuman level Duke fans had become accustomed to seeing. He responded by altering his game. Instead of opting for deep 3-pointers, Parker attacked the basket with the confidence of a senior See parker, page 15

thanh-ha nguyen/Chronicle file photo

Jabari Parker will likely be playing his final game in a Duke uniform during the coming weeks, but the freshman has made a special connection with his University during his first year.


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MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

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DOES DUKE HAVE THE DEFENSE? by Andrew Beaton The ChroniCle

According to recent nCAA champion precedent, a title run isn’t in the cards for Duke: its defense isn’t good enough. no national champion has finished worse than 21st in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency since 2003, when KenPom.com, a haven for advanced college basketball statistics, first began publishing the metric. The statistic measures the points allowed per 100 possessions a team would give up against the average Division i offense. Duke’s rank: 101st. The Blue Devils have gotten by this season with an offense that ranks second nationally in adjusted offense efficiency. Does that mean they can defy this precedent? no. Can the defense play well enough to make their season-long defensive inconsistency a distant memory? Yes, and they have. “That’s going to be the key to our run: Defense and toughness. We can’t rely on our offense to win. There are going to be games where you’re not shooting well, not getting the bounce that you

eric lin/ChroniCle file photo

Advanced metrics indicate that Duke may not be strong enough defensively to compete for a national championship. need,” senior captain Tyler Thornton said. “The best defensive teams always make it to the Final Four and eventually win the championship.”

“We were playing with our backs against the wall.” TYLer THOrNTON duke senior Guard

Jennie Xu/ChroniCle file photo

Although the Blue Devils’ defensive reputation is less than stellar, they have played excellent defense during stretches of the season.

Thus far, Duke hasn’t been one of the best defensive teams in the country. At times, though, the defense has been elite. on paper, the Blue Devils have the type of athleticism that should stifle opposing offenses. Jabari Parker, rodney hood and Amile Jefferson are all long, physical and quick. Marshall Plumlee, Duke’s lone 7-footer, has found his niche as a rebounder and discouraging target beneath the hoop. Thornton has now held the role of ball-stopper for three seasons.

Thornton was the key in one of Duke’s best defensive performances of the season, a 79-69 victory against Michigan at Cameron indoor Stadium. The Wolverines, the no. 2 seed in Duke’s Midwest region and the no. 3 offense in the nation per KenPom.com, were held to 22 points in the first half on 8-of-26 shooting. Thornton, alongside Quinn Cook and Matt Jones, held guard nik Stauskas—Michigan’s leading scorer at

17.5 points per game—without a field goal for the entire contest. And that wasn’t an isolated incident. The Blue Devils played stingy defense against Pittsburgh’s elite offense in a hostile road environment during Duke’s five-game winning streak that followed disappointing losses to notre Dame and Clemson. Duke gave up 58.4 points per game in that span, arguably its best defensive stretch of the season. “We were playing with our backs against the wall, which they were,” Thornton said. That’s the sort of mentality the team has to play with in the nCAA tournament because fixing a defense isn’t always so easy. After all, what exactly has been the problem that needs fixing? hood said that, at times this season, the Blue Devils would allow missing shots on the offensive end to affect their defensive performance. Throughout the year, he has observed, they have “made that adjustment.” Associate head coach Jeff Capel said that protecting the basket and limiting teams to only one shot are vital. Duke is giving up 9.2 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks in the bottom half of the nation. Capel noted that the key isn’t any one person. Although you can have very good individual defenders, he said, it’s about playing as a unit: keeping players in front of you, communicating and helping out. See DefeNSe, page 15

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6 | thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014

graphic by elysia su/the ChroniCle

THE STORY OF

’SHEED

did not dance around the issue. Sulaimon finally hits Krzyzewski “[Sulaimon] has to play better than the guys who played tonight,” Krzyzewski said. his stride amid up“he contributed great from the bench.” and-down season “I just told myself that it by Ryan Hoerger The ChroniCle

elysia su/ChroniCle file photo

After a season of ups and downs, sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon is playing his best basketball just in time for the Big Dance.

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Did not play—coach’s decision. That was rasheed Sulaimon’s stat line from Duke’s victory against Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten challenge back in December, the product of a month-long slump that relegated the one-time starter to the bench. But with hard work, newfound confidence and two big shots, Sulaimon is back in a big way as Duke heads into the nCAA tournament. For a player who played valuable minutes on a senior-laden team as a freshman last season, Sulaimon’s peaks and valleys have been more pronounced than anticipated. The sophomore struggled mightily in november—he scored in double-digits in Duke’s first two games but did not eclipse eight points again until Dec. 28 against eastern Michigan, a nine-game stretch in which he averaged 4.0 points per game. The houston native hit rock bottom with a resounding thud Dec. 3, when he did not see any game action in Duke’s 79-69 victory against the Wolverines. With a stable of talented guards at his disposal, head coach Mike Krzyzewski split Sulaimon’s minutes among Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton and freshman Matt Jones. in his postgame comments,

can’t get any worse than this right now, so I just had to play through it.” raSHeeD SULaiMON duke sophomore Guard

The sophomore got a chance in Duke’s next game, but not much of one, playing just five scoreless minutes in a Blue Devil win against Gardner-Webb. long talks with his parents followed as Sulaimon tried to work his way out of the funk. “i just told myself that it can’t get any worse than this right now, so i just had to get out of it,” Sulaimon said during the ACC tournament. Signs of an upward swing came in Duke’s Dec. 19 victory against UClA at Madison Square Garden. Sulaimon scored eight points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. his confidence was back, but the recovery was still incomplete. When freshman Jabari Parker joined Sulaimon in a rut, the team’s performance as a See SulaIMoN, page 16

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NO FOUL, NO HARM Foul woes worrisome for Blue Devils in NCAA tournament by Bobby Colton The Chronicle

Duke has as much talent as any team in the NCAA tournament, but that matters little if those talented players can’t stay on the court. With the team much healthier than it was a season ago when seniors Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly were unable to practice while recovering from various ailments, injury isn’t what will keep the Blue Devils’ top guns off the floor: it’s foul trouble. “It was important because it kind of dictates the way you play,” point guard Quinn Cook said about foul woes following Duke’s ACC tournament loss to Virginia. “You don’t want to play too antsy with three or four fouls.” Foul trouble has been Duke’s nemesis all season. Forward Amile Jefferson was relegated to the bench early in the team’s season-opener against Davidson, and Cook’s strong game against Arizona was interrupted by early fouls. Conference play spelled trouble for the Blue Devils in the foul department as well—most notably the game played against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, when freshman Jabari Parker, Jefferson and graduate student Andre Dawkins fouled out and were forced to watch from the bench as the Orange eked out a 91-89 overtime win to keep their pristine undefeated record intact. It’s not just one or two players who have been plagued by the foul bug this season, but instead a team-wide epidemic. In 25 games played against either conference foes or nonconference opponents that punched their tickets to the Big Dance, Jefferson, redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood and senior captain Tyler Thornton have been in foul trouble in 12 games apiece. Parker found himself in foul woes in eight of those games, guard Rasheed Sulaimon fell victim to personal fouls seven times, and Dawkins was culpable in committing excess fouls six times. When starters and key rotation players are forced out of games due to foul trouble, it disrupts

graphic by elysia su/The Chronicle

See foul trouble, page 14

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8 | thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014

Which Duke basketball player are you? A tribute to Buzzfeed hope you remember to put on your “three-goggles” before taking this quiz.

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nicOle saVage/the ChroniCle

Josh Hairston’s charge-taking ability and Andre Dawkins’ 3-point stroke are two of Duke players’ trademark qualities.

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, our newspaper doesn’t come equipped with GIF-playing abilities. So we simply described the GIFs in words as best we could. For example, since we’re saying sorry about our inability to show GIFs, even though we didn’t do anything to really warrant an apology at this point…

Lucas Hubbard

**Insert GIF of Tobias Funke twisting in his bathrobe, with white text superimposed saying “Excuuuussseeee Meeeeeeee”** 1. What’s Your Favorite Movie? • We Are Marshall • Boyz n the hood • Semi-Pro • Thor(nton) 2. if you had one superpower, what would it be? • incredible sniping ability • Superhuman strength • Selflessness (like passing, lol) • Taking a charge

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7. how would Dick Vitale describe you? • “he’s a diaper dandy!!!” • “he’s a PTP-er!!!” • “he’s awesome with a capital-A!!!” • “[Thirty seconds of just unintelligible noise]” 8. There’s 10 seconds on the clock—your team has the ball, down by two. What does coach tell you to do? • Shoot a three • Pass the ball to the first guy to shoot a three See buZZfeeD, page 14


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MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

Get Smart: Marcus Smart has not missed a beat since returning from his three-game suspension for physically confronting a fan Feb. 8 at Texas Tech. The sophomore, likely playing his final collegiate season before taking his talents to the NBA, does a little bit of everything for his Cowboys, averaging 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Oklahoma State will only go as far as their star point guard can take it this tournament season.

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Aaron’s Party, Volume 1: Arizona’s diaper dandy has been a defensive stalwart for the No. 1 seed Wildcats. Aaron Gordon doesn’t have the flashy numbers that Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle do, but at 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game he has been extremely effective for head coach Sean Miller. Gordon will likely make the leap to the NBA after this season, but for now he is an integral part of Arizona’s title hopes.

WEST

Bayou Baller: The best player you’ve never heard of in the NCAA tournament. Just like former Lehigh star C.J. McCollum two seasons ago, Elfrid Payton has the type of talent to destroy brackets across the nation. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ lead guard is putting up gaudy numbers this season, averaging 19.1 points, 6.0 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game for Sun Belt tournament champion Louisiana-Lafayette.

Teach Me How To Dougie: Doug McDermott has been one of the best basketball players in the nation for three seasons, averaging 22.9 and 23.2 points per game the last two years before upping his output to a whopping 26.9 points per game in his senior season. Dougie McBuckets now finds himself fifth on the all-time NCAA scoring list, just 60 points behind No. 4 Alphonso Ford. Creighton senior forward’s silky stroke from deep and prolific rebounding makes him perhaps the most dangerous player in the tournament.

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Sharpshooting Stauskas: Michigan sophomore guard Nik Stauskas (17.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.3 APG) is as crafty as they come. The Mississauga, Ontario product won Big Ten Player of the Year honors, leading the Wolverines to the regular season title despite missing big man Mitch McGary due to injury. Stauskas is the fifth-deadliest 3-point specialist in the tournament, connecting at a 44.9 percent clip, and can shake defenders with his dribble to set up high-percentage looks for his teammates. As a dual threat, Stauskas will draw a ton of attention from his opponents and must deliver to keep the Wolverines marching toward North Texas.


the chronicle

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

point guard Fred VanVleet RPG) is the engine that powers efeated team in the nation. Shockers aren’t easily phased, as heir Final Four run last year— t from the free throw line and a 3.89 assist-to-turnover ratio. Gonzaga last year, Wichita State idwest Region and won’t shock

DWEST Big Cat: Out of Kentucky’s six freshmen, forward Julius Randle has made the biggest splash in Lexington. At 6-foot9, 250 pounds, Randle (15.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG) bullies his way to excellent post position and finishes strong around the basket. Teams have countered by being physical with the freshman and disrupting his rhythm. On a team that has been wildly erratic this season, Randle’s consistent production will be counted upon to carry the Wildcats should their perimeter shooters falter.

Pressure on Parker: There isn’t much Jabari Parker (19.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG) hasn’t accomplished in his first season in Durham. Eighteen 20-point games and 14 double-doubles make Parker a threat anywhere on the court. He can shoot it from downtown (36.9 percent) and can finish at and above the rim. He’s a freight train in transition, and he’s hard to defend in the post. It isn’t often that Duke puts its postseason hopes in the hands of a freshman, but this is one of those years.

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the chronicle

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

BrogdON’s OFFense: On a Virginia team known for its defense, giving up 55.3 points per game, the fewest in the nation, Malcolm Brogdon is a rare capable scorer, with a team-high 12.6 points per game. With a propensity to step up in big games—he scored a career-high 23 points to clinch the ACC tournament title against Duke—he’s the reason why Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers took the conference’s regular-season and postseason titles this year.

Sparty’s Spark: Michigan State is a team filled with savvy veterans in seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling, and junior Branden Dawson. Harris, a sophomore, is the team’s most dynamic talent, leading the Spartans with 17.1 points per game and the ability to regularly create his own shot.

EAST Paging Paige: On a North Carolina team that can’t shoot from distance or make its free throws, Marcus Paige is a unique talent. Naturally a point guard, the sophomore was forced to take on more of a scoring role this year and excelled, leading the Tar Heels with 17.4 points per game.

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Scottie Knows: The Gators have lost two games this season. Wilbekin, suspended to start the season, didn’t play in the first one against Wisconsin. Then he missed the final three minutes with an ankle injury in a one-point loss to Connecticut. The lesson: When the SEC Player of the Year is on the court, Florida doesn’t lose.

Aaron’s Party, Volume 2: One of the premier perimeter defenders in the nation with 2.5 steals per game, Aaron Craft is on a road to redemption after the ball slipped out of his hands with a chance to tie the game in the Big Ten tournament semis against Michigan. The Buckeyes are at their best when they don’t have to rely on him to score, only distribute and defend.

SOUTH Get Wiggy With It: Entering this season, the spotlight on Andrew Wiggins was the only one that eclipsed that of Jabari Parker at Duke. After initial struggles, he has shown why he was so highly touted, and will need to bear a heavier load in the NCAA tournament if fellow first-year Joel Embiid isn’t ready to go for Kansas.

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Underrated Ennis: As Syracuse jumped out to a 25-0 start, TylerEnnis joined the group of the freshman elite, leading the Orange’s offense and 2-3 zone. But just as Syracuse has struggled—losing three of its final four—so has its point guard, shooting 38.3 percent from the field in that span.

thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014 | 13


BUZZFEED

the chronicle

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

14 | thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014

from page 8

• For Pete’s sake, why are you shooting? • Stay on the bench **Insert GIF of George Michael’s sad Charlie Brown walk** 9. if you weren’t a basketball player, what would you be? • Comedian • Just generally good at everything • Security guard, or something that required me to hold back hoards of excited people 10. Are you currently a member of the Duke men’s basketball team? • Yes • no if yes, what is your name? ________

Congratulations, you are the person whose name you just wrote above. Don’t know why you needed a quiz to figure that out, but hey... to each his own. **Insert that one GIF from Citizen Kane with the guy clapping seriously in the dark theater, with, like, a super serious look on his face** if no... well, did you seriously expect that to change? Was this quiz ever going to put you on the Duke basketball team? how much time did you waste just now? really? Wow. **Insert GIF of Kristen Wiig making some sort of face or something** But seriously, you’re not on the team. At least this wasn’t as completely pointless as the “Which Duke basketball player do you hate?” quiz. in footer: Be sure to rate this quiz as lol or win or omg.

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Foul trouble was a big piece of Duke’s downfall in a road loss to Syracuse Feb. 1.

FOUL TROUBLE

from page 7

not only the individual’s performance, but the cohesion of the entire team. “it shouldn’t affect us, but it could make guys not as aggressive as they were at the beginning, just because you don’t want to pick up that fourth foul early in the [second] half, or pick up that third foul in the first half, so it knocks us back a little bit,” Jefferson said following the second meeting between Duke and Virginia. The numbers suggest that fouling has a direct impact on Duke’s ability to win games. of those 25 games against ACC and tournament-bound teams, 11 times the team has committed at least 20 fouls. of those 11 games, the Blue Devils lost seven. in the team’s eighth loss—a 79-77 upset at the hands of notre Dame—Duke was whistled for 19 fouls. Taking into account the entire season, the Blue Devils have won just 53.3 percent of its games during which the team commits 20-plus fouls. one must look no further than Duke’s loss to Wake Forest for in-game evidence of foul trouble completely altering the course of the contest. hood was whistled for his fourth foul with 9:28 remaining in the contest having already scored 16 points. he would not appear again in the box score until fouling out eight minutes later. no shots attempted. no rebounds. no assists. But that wasn’t as damning as the evidence presented when Parker was tagged with his fourth foul. The forward sat down with Duke leading 66-61. What transpired immediately upon Parker reaching the bench was a 15-0 Demon Deacon run, ignited by the absence and timidity of the Blue Devils’ foul-stricken stars. The question becomes simple for Duke moving forward: how does it keep its best players out of foul trouble and on the court? The Blue Devils aren’t alone in their concern in this area. The third-most whistled team in the ACC, Duke ranks 49th of 68 teams in the original tournament field in fouls committed per game, with the likes of no. 2 seeds Kansas and Villanova and fellow Midwest powerhouse louisville posting worse foul figures. Fortunately for Duke, the answer could be as simple as tightening the ship in practice. After Cook noted that the “ticky-tack grabbing stuff” that the referees were calling fouls against Virginia was the same sort of grabbing that was permissible in practice, the officiating became more stringent this week. From here on out, the key is simple, cerebral play. “Just playing smart,” Cook said. “not getting too physical. You can get caught up in being too physical if it’s been a physical game and the game’s been called closely. You can’t be as physical as you want to be. You have to play smart and play through it.” With just six games between the Blue Devils and cutting the nets down in north Texas, now is as good a time as any to raise the intelligence level on the court and keep the team’s stars on the floor.


the chronicle

PARKER

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

from page 4

and once again began to overpower his opponents. “he’s way more aggressive,” said redshirt sophomore rodney hood, who alongside Parker has been a primary offensive option for Duke this season. “At the beginning of the year he was hitting all jumpers, and now he’s going at people and going in strong. i think he’s a bull down low, and he’s maturing. his growth has helped our team.”

“The only way you can leave a legacy... is winning a championship.” Jabari parker duke freshman forward

hood said that the freshman got his season back on track in a Jan. 18 blowout win against n.C. State. Parker scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds and three steals in just 26 minutes after failing to top 15 points in each of his first four ACC contests. “he was taking it to the rack, he was talking to himself—he was into it,” hood said. “That’s when i knew that from here on out, he’s going to be there.” To Parker, that added maturity came from experiences off the court as well as on it. Parker said that being around high-caliber students in the classroom has helped him become more of a “student of the game,” and that his experiences at Duke have aided his personal growth.

thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014 | 15

“it just made me think more important, outside of basketball, how great the community is and just focusing on everybody, treating everybody with respect,” Parker said. “it’s more than just one culture, it’s more than just one race. There’s so many people out here at Duke, so much diversity. You just learn how to cherish those bonds and relationships.” Academically, Parker may still be a freshman. Whatever you do, don’t call him that on the court. The Duke forward has made an effort to distance himself from his first-year moniker as his team approaches the nCAA tournament. “i’ve just left it behind,” he said. After playing a full 34 games and one of the ACC’s most grueling conference schedules in history, it is not unfair to say that Parker’s experience now expands beyond that of a rookie. When the Blue Devils made a run to the ACC tournament championship game, Parker was often the most vocal Duke player on the floor. “it’s really a delight to watch him grow over the season,”

sophomore forward Amile Jefferson said. “he opens up the floor for his teammates, and he’s really just a great person. So it’s been a lot of fun playing with him.” As he moves forward into his first nCAA tournament and potentially his final games in a Duke uniform, Parker fields countless questions about the legacy he will leave with the Blue Devils. Despite the most successful season by any freshman in Duke history, Parker will not see his no. 1 jersey raised to the rafters anytime soon, regardless of the arguments that can be made for it. That honor is only reserved for Blue Devils who graduate. he knows the way he can be remembered at Duke. “The only way you can leave a legacy—you can leave behind memories—is winning a championship,” he said. regardless of whether his collegiate career lasts another three weeks or another three years, Parker is approaching the Big Dance as though any game could be his grand finale. “every game is the last,” he said. “Win or lose, you have to play that way.”

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Staying aggressive and attacking the basket has helped Jabari Parker find late-season success.

DEFENSE

from page 5

“We’ve been very good at times defensively,” he said. “other times we’ve been not as good. This is the time of year we can’t afford that.” one of the most grueling aspects of the nCAA tournament is scouting, especially for the second game of a weekend when there is only one day in between games. But Thornton said that knowing an opponent is critical for success on the defensive end. Just as teams have widely varying offensive styles, Duke’s defense needs to be prepared to play differently. The Blue Devils have shown a willingness to do just that this year. Sometimes they apply full-court pressure to an opposing offense after a made shot. other times the swarm comes just outside the 3-point line. Capel added that self-scouting is just as important—not just knowing the tendencies of the Blue Devils’ opponents but their own, so that they can make fixes from game to game. on a team that stands among the most talented in the country—having proven it consistently on the offensive end all year—making those fixes will decide how long Duke will dance. The shots won’t always fall and struggles on the offensive end are inevitable, so the Blue Devils have to make sure their opponents struggle even more. “There are going to be times where we go on droughts offensively,” hood said. “We need to make plays on the defensive end.”

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16 | thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014

SULAIMON

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

the chronicle

from page 6

whole continued to suffer. Duke got off to a rocky 1-2 start in ACC play thanks to two poor second-half showings at notre Dame and at Clemson. in those losses, Sulaimon attempted just six shots and scored eight points total, a total non-factor. Sulaimon’s season—and his team’s—changed for the better Jan. 13 when the Blue Devils returned home to face Virginia. Duke led by double-digits late in the second half when the Cavaliers mounted a furious comeback, grabbing a 65-64 lead with less than 40 seconds to play. Sulaimon, who finished the game with a season-high 21 points, used an extremely friendly bounce to knock in a go-ahead 3-pointer off a broken play, helping the Blue Devils survive their third collapse in four games. “A lot of prayer and just getting back in the gym and just believing in myself again,” Sulaimon said about what helped him turn the corner. “once i did that i started executing again, and all my hard work in practice [paid off]... once i started doing well Coach gave me a chance in the game.” With his slump in the rearview mirror, Sulaimon saw an uptick in playing time and took advantage, posting double-digit performances in seven of his next nine games. nestled in that span was Duke’s Feb. 1 game at Syracuse, in which Sulaimon hit one of the memorable shots of the college basketball season. Taking the ball the full length of the court in five seconds, he rose up and drilled a triple at the buzzer to send the game into overtime and the Carrier Dome crowd into silence. Sulaimon is far from the only Blue Devil to go through a rough patch this season. Parker needed a few ACC games to get accustomed to carrying the load in conference play, Andre Dawkins has endured cold spells from beyond the arc and Quinn Cook currently finds himself out of a starting job. But throughout the season, Krzyzewski and his coaching staff have remained positive and given everyone the opportunity to earn back their minutes. “Practice is a big thing. Guys are willing to work and get out of their rut,” redshirt sophomore rodney hood said. “You have to come in locked in every day. There have been a couple games where guys haven’t played, but everybody’s going to get a shot to play. it just depends on what you do

Julia Dunn/the ChroniCle

ChroniCle file photo

Rasheed Sulaimon’s big shot against Virginia (left) helped him to get back to the success that he had during his freshman year (right). while you’re in there.” The shots didn’t go down for Sulaimon in Sunday’s ACC title game, but the sophomore still enters the nCAA tournament playing some of his best basketball of the season and could be the key to a Blue Devil title pursuit. he’s no stranger to rising to the occasion—scoring a teamhigh 21 points to push Duke past Creighton in the round of 32 last March—and has proven himself with two clutch 3-pointers this season, making Sulaimon one of a number of

weapons opponents will have to key on if the game comes down to the final possession. “Some people could have folded, splintered,” sophomore Amile Jefferson said. “he’s gutted it out, and he’s been playing really well. he’s a big key for our team because he can do things that not many people in the country can.” Michigan looms as a potential Sweet 16 opponent for the Blue Devils. Sulaimon may still get his crack at the Wolverines after all.


The Chronicle

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

thursDAY, march 20, 2014 | 17

MidwestByTheNumbers

3

Number of last year’s Final Four teams represented in the Midwest, including both national finalists (No. 1 Wichita State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Louisville).

1

Number of teams whose win total is lower than its seed (No. 16 Cal Poly has 14 wins).

33.1

Combined average number of turnovers forced per game in Thursday’s Round of 64 matchup between Louisville and Manhattan. elysia su/The Chronicle

7

Former McDonald’s All-Americans on Kentucky’s roster, including six freshmen.

5

Conference Players of the Year in the Midwest

13-3

No. 15 Wofford’s record in the second half of the season. The Terriers started the campaign 7-9.

5

Teams from the Midwest ranked in the top 10 adjusted offenses, per Ken Pomeroy’s metrics. Only Louisville and Wichita State also rank in the basketball statistician’s top 10 adjusted defenses.

56.25%

Of the Midwest teams hail from power conferences, the most of any region in this year’s NCAA tournament. —Ryan Hoerger

A loaded Midwest region features preseason No. 1 Kentucky and defending national champion Louisville.


18 | thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014

the chronicle

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

Beat writers predict the NCAA tournament

graphic by elysia su/the ChroniCle

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MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

Diaper dandies dancing Jabari Parker: Parker headlines an elite class of freshmen making what could be their only nCAA tournament appearance. The 6-foot-8 forward has provided highlight after highlight for Duke, leading the team in scoring at 19.3 points per game and leading the ACC in rebounding with 8.8 per night. Since transitioning his game away from the perimeter and to the paint, Parker has been nearly impossible to contain, using his big frame to bully opposing defenders. Although Duke has other options in rodney hood and rasheed Sulaimon, it is Parker who the Blue Devils will lean heavily on this March. Andrew Wiggins: Wiggins is in the pole position to become the first overall pick in the 2014 nBA Draft, but before he makes the quantum leap to the pros he’ll try to prove to all the scouts in attendance that he has nothing left to prove at the collegiate level. The Canadian star has caught fire in his past three games, all played without center Joel embiid, averaging 31.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals per contest. Joel Embiid: The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back, leaving him questionable for postseason play. The 7-foot center out of Cameroon has proven to be much more polished than head coach Bill Self and his staff expected, making his presence felt on the court by averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Memphis trans-

fer Tarik Black will have big shoes to fill while embiid recuperates. Julius Randle: Kentucky’s star-studded freshman class has not panned out the way head coach John Calipari expected it to, but randle has proven to be the gem he was billed to be. The 6-foot-9 forward is a man among boys in the paint, racking up 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. recently randle has been plagued by poor shooting, knocking down shots at a mere 31.0 percent clip in the SeC tournament. Aaron Gordon: Gordon may not put up the flashy numbers the rest of these freshmen do, but he is just as vital to his team’s success. no. 1 seed Arizona has leaned heavily on Gordon since the injury to forward Brandon Ashley, relying on Gordon to fill the defensive void left by Ashley’s injury. Gordon still provides some offensive punch, putting in 12.1 points per game—second on the team behind guard nick Johnson.

thursDAY, mArch 20, 2014 | 19

TheKrzyzewskiCoachingTree Tommy Amaker

Johnny Dawkins

>>>Seventh season with Harvard

>>>Sixth season with Stanford

>>>Three consecutive Ivy League championships >>>Upset third-seeded New Mexico in the NCAA tournament last season

>>>Served nine seasons as a Duke associate head coach, including the 2001 NCAA championship season

>>>Went to five Final Fours and two national championships as an assistant and associate head coach at Duke

>>>Duke’s all-time leading scorer until 2006, when JJ Redick surpassed him

>>>Won the first-ever NACB Defensive Player of the Year award in 1987, his senior season

>>>Inducted into Duke Hall of Fame in 1996; later had his No. 24 hung in the rafters at Cameron

>>Drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the 1987 NBA draft

>>>10th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs

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Tyler Ennis: Another Canadian freshman who has made noise this season. Syracuse’s floor general has stepped into the departed Michael Carter-Williams’ shoes admirably this year, averaging 12.7 points and 5.6 assists per game. ennis has also had a flair for the dramatic this season—something everyone loves to see come tournament time. he stunned Pittsburgh Feb. 12 with a buzzer-beating triple. —Bobby Colton

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MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

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