Tag Archives: Marshall Plumlee

Taking a Look at the Duke Freshmen

With Amile Jefferson’s announcement he would be attending Duke University, Duke’s recruiting efforts for the 2012-13 season came to a successful end. Jefferson, a power forward, joins combo guard Rasheed Sulaimon in a class that also includes forward Alex Murphy and center Marshall Plumlee, two players who redshirted last season.

While ESPN ranks Duke’s 2012 class at number 11, that ranking only factors in Sulaimon and Jefferson. Including redshirts Murphy and Plumlee, as part of the incoming class, results in a very strong group, which certainly deserves a Top 5 ranking. Duke has been unfairly criticized recently, by certain elements across the recruiting world, as having been left behind. Results certainly outweigh the rhetoric.

Balance is a nice characteristic of this class as it contains a combo guard (1/2), combo forward (3/4), power forward (4) and center (5). Another characteristic is talent. In the final RSCI rankings for 2011, Alex Murphy was ranked 49 with Marshall Plumlee checking in at 61. For 2012, Rasheed Sulaimon is 17 while Amile Jefferson is 20. RSCI has not finalized their 2012 rankings.

Let’s take a look at each incoming player.

Alex Murphy (6’8” 220): Last summer Duke fan site message boards were buzzing about the possibility of Murphy breaking into the starting line-up. Comparisons to Kyle Singler were common place. After suffering a concussion in practice, Murphy fell behind in his preseason development and decided to redshirt. Considering he left high school a year early, the decision passed the common sense test.

The exciting element of the story is Murphy was talented enough to compete for a spot in the starting line-up 12 months ago. With a full year of practice and participation in the strength and conditioning program under his belt, Murphy is the leading candidate to be the Blue Devils starting small forward in 2012-13.

In regard to the redshirt season, associate head coach Chris Collins recently commented, “The biggest gains that we saw with Alex throughout this season were with his confidence and his strength.”

My expectation is Murphy will be in the starting line-up at small forward from day one. Additionally, when Coach Krzyzewski decides to go with a smaller line-up, Murphy is strong enough to slide into the power forward position.

Rasheed Sulaimon (6’4” 180): After winning the 3-point shooting competition at the McDonald’s All American game, Sulaimon proceeded to score 18 points including going four for eight on 3-pointers to help the West beat the East 106-102. At the Jordan Brand Classic, Sulaimon made three of six 3-point shots and scored 13 points as the West beat the East 99-95.

As talented an outside shooter as Sulaimon is, two different skills are what excite me. First, Sulaimon demonstrated significant defensive ability during three All Star games. Additionally, he displayed an ability to run the point. Those two skill sets compel me to compare Sulaimon’s potential to Nolan Smith.

My expectation is Sulaimon will come off the bench in the early season while competing to break into the starting line-up. Whether he eventually starts or spends the entire season as a reserve, he will play starters minutes as a freshman due to his talents on the defensive end of the court.

Amile Jefferson (6’8” 200): In the official press release announcing Jefferson’s decision to attend Duke, Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “We are ecstatic about Amile joining us. He is going to be able to help us right away.”

At the McDonald’s All American game, Jefferson recorded eight points, three rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes of action. Moving past the statistics, and just watching the game, Jefferson demonstrated versatility and smoothness on the court. He did not dominate, in fact he did not even standout, but to the seasoned eye, he looked like he belonged.

My expectation is Jefferson will average low double digit minutes per game as a freshman, perhaps as many as 12 to 15 minutes. With his length and low post offensive skills, Amile will be a key contributor in relief of Ryan Kelly. Over the course of his career at Duke, Jefferson has the potential to develop into another in the long list of versatile forwards to succeed as a Blue Devil.

Marshall Plumlee (6’11” 225): The younger brother of Miles and Mason, and McDonald’s All American is reputed to be more of a true low post player than either of his older brothers. Gaining muscle mass should be a major objective for Marshall over the summer and with an entire year already spent in a college level strength and conditioning program he should have plenty of success.

However, from a High School Hoops article I wrote in December 2010, after watching Christ School play Quality Education Academy, the following sentence stands out, “On offense, Plumlee operated mainly out of the high post and delivered a couple of nice passes for assists.” Duke will need Plumlee to operate out of the low post, while Ryan Kelly mans the high post, so hopefully my observation of his tendencies as a high school senior were more a function of his team’s offense and less a function of his comfort zone.

My expectation is Marshall will see consistent but limited minutes in relief of older brother Mason and to a lesser degree Ryan Kelly. His objective over the course of next season should be to gain invaluable game experience to facilitate his moving into a starting role as a sophomore. Marshall projects to be a four year player who will excel as a junior and senior.

marshall plumlee

One on One with Marshall Plumlee of Duke

Duke Basketball plans on using a redshirt on Marshall Plumlee this season provided there are not a lot of team injuries. That means, the plan is for Plumlee to join Alex Murphy and Rasheed Sulaimon as freshman the following season and Duke is of course, still recruiting. When in the locker room before or after the game, you can always count on a genuine smile from Marshall. He also known to be a hard worker and he’s doing his best to learn the Blue Devils system as he waits his turn. BDN caught up to Marshall for a one on one interview where we discussed his current situation, his brothers in more in our latest BDN Video offering which we are sure you’ll enjoy hearing the latest from Plum 3.

Mason slams one in vs Bellarmine - copyright BDN Photo

Watzone’s Duke Basketball Notebook Week 2

Mason slams one in vs Bellarmine - copyright BDN Photo

It’s time for the second edition of my Duke Basketball Notebook which will recap the latest happenings around the program. And as always, we’ll sprinkle a bit of inside information in as well to add a little spice.  Okay, we are seeking a new name for our weekly column, so send in your suggestions via one of the social networks.  We feel fans make up the Blue Devil Nation!  Now, on to the tantalizing tidbits -

Rotation revisited

During last week’s Monday Musings article I was not clear when I mentioned that  Mason and Miles Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry and Austin Rivers were the Blue Devils five best players.  Instead, my wording made some think I said they would start.  Well, Coach K himself quickly said that this would not happen moments into his post game press conference after the Blue Devils defeated Bellarmine in their exhibition opener.  “I’m not that good of a coach to figure out how to start them all at the same time,” said Krzyzewski.  And if you think there was a clear picture established coming  away from the opener with concern to the rotation, think again.  Duke started true freshman Alex Murphy alongside the Plumlee brothers, Curry and Rivers.  But Murphy struggled in the role and would not come off the bench in the second half.  Kryzewski inserted Tyler Thornton into the lineup and the Blue Devils outscored last seasons Division II National champions by a twenty point margin.  Raise your hand if you didn’t think Ryan Kelly, named a co captain on this seasons team would start after his play in China?  Well, not to worry for anybody trying to figure out what Krzzyewski will do this season may be fooled.  The bottom line is you will see a bevy of players in the fifth spot this year and it will all depend on the opposition according to the HOF coach.

Seth Curry and talk

After the game I made my way to Seth Curry in the locker room and everybody else followed.  Curry has become the silent leader of this seasons team being named caption just last week.  In the post game conference, Krzzyeswki jokes with the media about getting good answers from Curry, but I told him he was better.  Curry is not a natural talker on the court but in the Duke system this is a must and he’s getting better.  One has to think he will be one of two players who have the ball in their hands if the Blue Devils are down a deuce in the close game with a few ticks left.

Austin Rivers and his adjustment to the college game

The other player who will eventually become a go to guy will be the potential laden Austin Rivers.  You heard it here at BDN first folks — Austin Rivers is the best interview on the team.  Rivers played but 19 minutes and Kryzewski hinted at mixed reviews for his opening game, but rest assured his game is being broken down and rebuilt for the better.  Rivers had the ball in his hands pretty much the whole game in high school and on the AAU circuit and now he is learning to play off ball and it will be an adjustment.  Rivers is the best penetrating guard on the team from my vantage and he will learn to pass off on his drives which will help the bigs finish inside.  Rivers knows he’s learning as well and he acknowledged that by showing Blue Devil Nation Video/ his battle scar on the game.  Rivers took  a hard fall and after having his head buried for a few seconds he jumped right back up and moved on.  In the past Rivers may have complained to the refs or showed animation but it is clear that this has been addressed by the staff and he is already a better player from learning that lesson.

Marshall Plumlee and redshirt rules

If you are expecting to see some burn from Duke freshman Marshall Plumlee, think again.  As you know we tweet live from press row in Cameron and several followers wanted to argue that he could play in an exhibition and still red shirt.  Well, they isn’t true from what I have gleaned and the only way Duke will waste a year of him coming in deep off the bench will be if there are injuries up front.  Krzyzewski made it clear that the brothers Plumlee, Mason and Miles, Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston would rotate in the two big spots, leaving three perimeter spots open in the process. And back to BDN tweets for a moment, ESPN Gamecast is now running our take in their roll and we appreciate that.  We’re pretty good at what we do and take in all things Duke so if you are not a follower, you should consider it for breaking news and unique coverage.

3 Point Shooting struggles versus Bellarmine

Duke defeated a well coached Bellarmine team by 25 points on the strength of a 49-29 second half.  But the Blue Devils struggled mightily from the three point stripe, going 2 for 14.  Had they hit a few more of those shots, the score gap would have widened earlier.  It was midway through the second half before Tyler Thornton dropped on from the top of the key.  Andre Dawkins who struggled from the field in the Blue-White game had another poor shooting night going 0-3 from the stripe and 1 of 5 overall.  Dawkins is considered the Blue Devils best three point artist.

 

Blue Devil Nation Facebook Open Group and BDN Photos

Let me plug our Facebook site as well, in that Blue Devil Nation has a open group.  We have just started to grow that end of our coverage and you will find our outstanding photo’s there as well.  Join the group and see our Countdown to Craziness galleries as well as fifty great shots from the win over Bellarmine.  Our photographers have features Lance, now touring ESPN Game Day on a weekly basis and currently my friend Rick Crank and they are both really good at what they do.  We’ve always been big on illustration at BDN and that will continue.  While you are at it, check out our videos on You Tube under Watzone and Blue Devil Nation Video where you will see timely post game interviews and exclusive coverage.

Key Duke prospect Tony Parker waves at the Cameron Crazies as he walks off the court after this weekends exhibition game. BDN Premium has the latest from Parker hot off the press! Photo copyright Rick Crank/BDN

Tony Parker Interview

Well!  I posted a Tony Parker Interview for Blue Devil Nation Premium last evening but accidentally made it available for public access.  Needless to say, many got a chance to read it and there were some very positive vibes.  BDN Premium is our extended subscription service which takes you on the inside of the latest happenings surrounding Duke Athletics and our information is always ahead of the curve.  Hey, it’s what we do and we do it well!  If you got a chance to read the article before we carried it back to premium, perhaps you realize how timely our coverage is.  If so, join!  In fact the first ten new members to sign up for a years coverage which is our best rate, will get ten bucks through paypal, making it a steal at $90.00 for the year.

Duke vs Carolina

As we hinted to you last week, there is a Duke vs UNC alumni game in the works and the powers that be are still working on a facilities.  When the details are ironed out, we’ll let you know more.   We also broke the information on Clash in Cameron last week where Mitch McGary and Jabari Parker will show off their skills in Durham.  We’ll have more on that as well.

As for Monday Musings, well, it will return next week with he usual tidbits.  Up next for Duke hoops is an exhibition game against the Shaw Bears on Wednesday evening and as always, BDN will be front and center to bring you the best coverage we possibly can.

 

Leadership In Training: An Interview With Miles Plumlee

Duke

Blessed with a reported thirty-six inch vertical, a 6’11,” 247 lb. frame, and the mind of a high school salutatorian, Miles Plumlee is a rare specimen. On a relatively young squad, Miles, a twenty-three year-old third generation college basketball player, has started more games, forty-one, than any current Duke player. The team will need him to provide leadership, experience, and low-post production to a more featured frontcourt.

Already a national champion, having grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes against Butler in the 2010 Championship game, the eldest of four Plumlee progeny brings the hunger of a man anxious for one last good meal. The psychology major has tried to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him this summer. Initially, the one-time engineering student with an entrepreneurial zeal worked in New York for Jesse Itzler, a serial entrepreneur who created Marquis Jet. The Winona Lake, Indiana native followed that experience up by participating in the college portion of the LeBron James Skills Academy, as one of the twenty invited players, including his talented and gracious brother, Mason. Most recently, the former high school track star enjoyed a thirteen day around the world trip with his Duke University teammates as part of Duke’s Friendship Games, playing in Dubai and three Chinese cities, Kunshan, Shanghai, and Beijing.

In the three games competing against the Chinese junior national team, Miles Plumlee, who is the team’s second-leading returning scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker, averaged nearly eleven rebounds and eleven points, while providing a vital role as a low-post scorer and offensive rebounder (corralling eight offensive rebounds in the final game against China’s large front court).

After Coach Trent Johnson left Stanford for Louisiana State, Miles Plumlee opted to open up his recruitment at Christ School in Arden, NC and ultimately decided to enter Duke University. At the time, he had a reputation for being more of a face-up four and had contributed to consecutive State Championships for the Greenies. Last summer, Miles transformed his physique and game by adding nearly twenty pounds of muscle. Near the end of the 2011 season, Coach Krzyzewski reinserted the eldest Plumlee into the starting lineup, where the Ft. Wayne-born big man immediately stepped up his game in the ACC Tournament, highlighted by his play against Maryland (10 points, 9 rebounds) and using his length against North Carolina’s finesse frontline (helping to hold Henson and Zeller to a combined 9 for 26 in the ACC Title game). Based upon his recent play, it appears as though he has continued to become more acclimated to the transition from a floating big to the team’s biggest physical presence, while seeking to maintain the athleticism that once allowed him to perform a 6’9″ high jump.

This year, with both brothers Marshall and Mason on the Duke’s campus, Miles Plumlee would like to take more of a leadership role in his final season of college basketball and go out with a second National Title. Miles spoke with BDN about a variety of topics, including stepping out of his comfort zone and into an increased leadership role, his relationships with both the coaching staff and his brothers, his team-centric focus, and an entrepreneurial future.

Maybe we can start with both leadership and your role on this team.

You know that’s the biggest thing I’ve been thinking about in this off-season. I’ve been focusing on it and, you know, I had an experience where I was doing an internship with one of the coaches’ friends.

I’m definitely going to get to that in just a moment…

Yeah, well, it kind of goes hand-in-hand.

Okay, great.

The biggest reason I wanted to go there is because I know [Jesse Itzler]’s a great leader in what he does and I learned a lot from him. I picked his brain and I got a lot of great advice. He started his own company a few times now, so he’s been successful and that was one area where I think it’s going to help me, but also coming back and being an older brother my life, you know, trying to apply that to the team. Just trying to bring that brotherhood to the whole team.

[private]

I wanted to get to the issue of you and brothers, too.
(laughs)

What are the expectations from your perspective and the coaching staff? What have they asked you to work on?

Well, I don’t have any personal accolades in mind, but all of my coaches know how high my ceiling is and I know how high it is. So, I’m just trying to reach a level that I’m really happy with, but more importantly, I’m concerned about the team competing for national championships.

Yes, absolutely. I mean you’ve already accomplished that once.

Yeah, but now to do that and be a leader on the team would be another thing. That’s the biggest goal on my mind.

Is being a captain something you aspire to? Have the coaches talked about you being captain or part of a committee, so to speak?

Yeah, I know, they said they’re going to wait and see how everything goes in China. They want to see how people’s roles surface, but, you know, I’ve been through more than anyone else on the team.

Right.

I’ve played with a lot of great leaders, like Jon Scheyer, a lot of great seniors growing up.

Who was the best leader you’ve played with? Is Scheyer the best?

He and Lance did a great job that year. There’s a reason why we won it. What was the initial question?

It had to do with leadership and whether you aspire to be a captain.

Oh, yes, they’re not going to make a decision until after China, but I’m already trying to assert myself and get out of my comfort zone because I’m not the most vocal guy.

Neither am I, but I try to push myself too.

Yeah, well, I’m trying to talk more on defense and also off the court. Yeah, you know, defensively, I can talk to people on the court, but I’m really trying to become a leader off the court. It’s not something I’m really comfortable with, but it’s something that I’m trying to grow into. I want to get that role.

Just out of curiosity, as you were saying it, I was thinking about being the oldest brother. I’m the oldest brother as well and by nature, you almost have to a leader among your younger siblings. Do you think that will help and have you found that to be the case?

Definitely, I think it’s a huge advantage in my position. I don’t think I’ve been the best big brother in the world, but I think there’s some things I’ve done right, and if I can learn from them..

God knows, I haven’t been.
(

laughs) Yeah, you know, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but all of them are experience that maybe an older brother has to have.

They can, sort of, learn from your own mistakes.

Yeah, yeah. Then, they can make their own. (laughs)

How do you think you’ve developed, both physically and from a skills perspective over the past few years? Physically, you’ve gotten a lot bigger.

Yeah, you know, I’m still continuing to push my body.

Always a work in progress.

I’m trying to get stronger and that, but I got really pretty athletic when I got to college and you know, I was more of a face-up player, but I’ve tried to adapt my game and become more of a back-to-the-basket player since coming to college.

Yeah, I wanted to touch on that as well.
Yeah, so you know, that’s probably been my biggest focus and the other stuff’s there and we’ve got such great guards coming to Duke each year. Yeah, maybe down the road I’ll use that more at the next level, but right now I want to make the biggest impact I can for our team and so that’s inside, giving us a low-post game.

In terms of mentoring, it sort of goes hand in hand with leadership, but how do you feel you’ve done as a mentor to your brothers and some of your future teammates this year?

I think it’s something I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to do. We have so many young guys and I need to mentor them and show them the ropes. We need them to win. They don’t even realize it yet. I mean, I was in that position as a freshman too, I didn’t know where I was at. We’ve got to bring them on board real fast and mentoring will be a big part of that.

You know him better than anybody, what dimension do you think Marshall can bring to program? Maybe give a scouting report on him to the fans that may not have seen him play.

Yeah, he’s surprised me. He’s really grown into his body. I think the number one thing if you’re scouting him is his motor. He never gives up, he goes full blast all the time he’s out on the court.

He’s a really nice kid, too.

Oh, yeah, he’s really nice, but he’ll take it to you on the court.

Yeah, he’s very serious and competitive on the court though.

Oh, yeah, definitely.

He said he’s very good at video games too.

Yeah, he is. Me and him always go at it.

In terms of a scouting report…

Yeah, a scouting report..he’s going to be going at you every minute of the game. He’s going to be busting his ass 100%. Yeah, I think that’s his biggest attribute right now is just running the court.

How do you think he differs from you and Mason at the same point in your lives?

You know, his whole life he always wanted to be a big guy for some reason, and it just so happened that he kept growing. You know, a lot of guys want to be big buys, but you can’t control that. So, I think he’s grown up wanting to be in the post doing the dirty work. He has fun just running the court and getting the ball. A lot of big guys don’t want to do that, they get spoiled, lazy, and they don’t want to do all of that work if they’re not going to get the ball every single time. That’s huge for a team. That changes the game.

Yeah, it does. I was just curious about that. What are you trying to work on this summer primarily on the court?

The same thing, but you know, just taking that post game to another level and getting more comfortable. I really thought that I made huge strides towards the end of last year, just having confidence when you get the ball in the post, and wanting the ball, and in the end, that makes a huge difference in the game when it comes down to the wire. You’ve got to want it.

Is it a “no hesitation” kind of thing for you?

Yeah, exactly. I really think that’s been my biggest setback is really getting out of your own head. You catch it and you immediately react.

I remember going to one of your practices a few years ago and Coach Krzyzewski was talking about how you were very hard on yourself, but that was a few years ago.

Definitely, that’s been my biggest problem. In practice, I play great for three years. Well, my freshman year was kind of tough, but for the last few years I played great in practice, and now the thing is to try to translate it to the games.

And it can happen, it’s just a matter of time and concentration.

Yeah, absolutely it can happen.

Can you touch on being an engineering student and how that differentiates your game? I remember you used to be an engineering student.

(laughs) Oh, no, that was way too much.

I was an Economics major there.

Yeah, my first semester there was the hardest of my life.

What’s your major now?

Psychology. You know, I think it’s something that’s applicable to anything I do in life, but, you know, it’s way more flexible for basketball.

Way more merciful too. They’re tough in terms of grades too.

Oh, yeah, it’s just tough.

The reason I was asking was because I was wondering if you saw the court differently by having somewhat of an engineering background.

Oh, yeah, you know I always thought I see angles differently. I don’t think a lot of basketball players realize what they’re seeing. I think it gives me a better sense of what I’m seeing…helps to visualize.

Would you describe your summer job as more of a finance job? How would you categorize it?

Yeah, well, it’s sort of hard to explain, it was really more of a company that Jesse Itzler founded, more of like a marketing thing. He founded Marquis Jets and now it’s like more of a marketing agency and a brand incubator. We came up with a few of our own products.

Would you like to get into that post-basketball? Perhaps be an entrepreneur?

Yeah, you know, that’s what it really opened my eyes to. An amazing opportunity would be to play in the NBA and not just squander it.

I’m glad you have your eyes wide open. There are so many sad stories, unfortunately.

Yeah, I know there are. Yeah, I want to make things happen. There are a lot of guys from Duke that have done great things like here or in China and you know, really have an entrepreneurial mindset just like him, and you know, it was a great experience.

What is your emotional reaction to finally get the opportunity to play with all of your brothers and be at the same school together? Excited? Happy?

So excited! I really think this is going to be the funnest year by far. You know, I’ve always had a blast, but you know, me and Marshall, we grew up hanging out together like non-stop and I was so much older than him, but, now, you know, we’re competing on the same level and it’s an adjustment.

Do the three of you ever just walk into the Y or something like that? Did the three of you walk in and people just go “Holy cow?”

(laughs) Yeah, I mean, we did, but we didn’t used to be this tall. Yeah, the last time I was at a place like that was back home and I was only like 5’9” or 5’10” as freshman. But I think it’s going to be a blast. It’s going to be a great senior year.

And what’s Mason’s take on all of this?

Oh, yeah, he’s been great. We both just love Marshall to death. It’s just fun to have all three of us together again.

Can you talk about the addition of the freshman class and Coach Capel? Those are the two big post-season additions to the program.

Yeah, I mean, everybody in the freshman class seems to have a great attitude. They’re really skilled, they’re really athletic. I think they all really have a great attitude, they all really want to get better. Coach Capel is just a great addition because he knows so much, he’s coached great players, and I love his positive attitude. He’s really good at pumping everybody up.

He can also relate to players. He’s still young and yet he’s got that head coaching experience, which is a great combo to add the staff.

Yeah, everybody’s pretty young and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great group to be around.

What’s your relationship like with both Coach K and Coach Wojo?

First of all, I’ve got to say it’s like family. I mean, they’ve been there for me in more than just basketball. That’s just one small part of the whole thing. You..you come to Duke and I had no idea what it was all about. You become part of this family. They’ve become like fathers to me. There’s a bond. I come to them for advice on everything. I know..I know I’m going to stay in touch with them for the rest of my life. It’s something that’s really special to me.

I don’t think a lot of recruits necessarily realize that, to paraphrase Coach Holtz, it’s not a four year thing, it’s a forty year thing.

No, you know, I don’t think a lot of them realize it. You don’t realize what you’re signing up for. If they did realize it, I think even a lot more would jump on it, but I know that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

How comfortable do you feel you are with your back-to-the-basket game and how far out do you feel your range is at this point? Because you still have that face-up game that you were talking about before.

I’ve always felt that I’m really versatile and now it’s not just a matter of how to use it, but when and where to use it, what opportunities you have and reading the defense. So, becoming a lot smarter and putting it all together. It’s something I’ve really worked on in the last year.

And in terms of your back-to-the-basket game?

Yeah, I’m realizing how much you can control the game with your back to the basket. Seeing, you know, guys like Tim Duncan and those kind of guys..taking your time, seeing the floor.

Is that what you worked on at the LeBron James Academy?

Yeah, you know, it was great playing against some of the best players and some of the best bigs. I was just trying to see where I stack up.

How did you do and what was the toughest guy for you to defend?

Dude, you know, everybody’s tough. Everybody’s good. I feel like I did as well as anyone. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to where it takes my game.

What are your expectations or goals for the team this year? A National Title?

A National Title all the way, that’s all I’ve got to say. We’ve always got talent. I just feel like we’ve just got to bring it together and develop that chemistry along the way.

Thank you very much, Miles.

No problem.

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Observations from behind the scenes at Jordan-Brand game

The Jordan-Brand All Star affair wrapped up this past weekend with the East holding on to take a 113-109 victory.  BDN was front and center during the event and here are some observations from the game and behind the scenes at the event.

-Just last [private] week WRAL ran a Rivers comment which basically said he had no hard feelings towards UNC and that he almost went there.  From my understanding, they took just that clip from a 12 minute interview and ran it.  Rivers is not aware of how “some” of the UNC fan base acts, nor that local media has a distinct slant there way, but he will learn.  A chorus of boo’s welcomed him when introduced as was Gbinije.  Gbinije smiled and looked down at the court, while Rivers seemed surprised at first and then cracked a smile.  In fairness, there were a whole lot of Kentucky fans there as well and they certainly do not like Duke.  After the game, Rivers said there are more UNC fans and that was okay but he was starting to get an idea that while he may like them okay and not yet be into the rivalry, many of their fans will hate on you.  Rivers was clowning with McAdoo as he was interviewed and the two had a friendship.   FWIW, McAdoo is a class act and a good kid, hard to dislike if you will.  Rivers also hung around Myck Kabongo a lot.

-A Rakeem Christmas dunk strted the game off and for a quarter Rivers looked like the man.  But you could almost see the descent on some of his teammates faces who wanted their points.  He was open on the wings several times and didn;t get the rock and that eventually made him force some shots.  Some fan was killing him, yelling “pass the ball,” the whole first half.  Michael Gbinije ended up forcing some shots as well and was a fish out of water in the sense that he is a team player.  He still showed a nice soft mid range and three point touch.  It is also clear that Brad Beal doesn’t seem to like Rivers and he asked the west coach to let him guard him from the start.  As you know, Rivers went off early, but Beal answered only most of his points came on wide open dunks off the break.

-I had a VIP seat, front row, under the basket near the west bench.  Several rap stars sat to my northeast and Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith was one seat over.  Several ex players came by to talk to him including Stephen Jackson.  Jackson and a temmate I didn’t recognize sat to my right.  Concessions people started bringing him food left and right or asking if he needed anything.  He joked that he was looking for a call from Michael Jordan about eating junk food.  When a Jordan video came on, you could hear some whispers which were jokes.  I did see Jordan after the game in the corridor with a girlfriend half his age in tow.  Several people quipped that the Bobcat’s were not a smooth operation but I have no comment on that, just passing on what I overheard.

-Marshall Plumlee was completely gunned out.  A “gun” is an old school word for a player who jacks up shots and raely passes.  I waited like 17 minutes for Plumlee to come out of the locker room, returned and still saw media waiting and just did not have time to get an interview with him.  Plumlee seemed miffed when his coach put Jackson Simmons in ahead of him in the second half.  He was not the only one.  Jackson did battle his way to 8 rebounds though but he will never be a major factor at UNC.

-Kids were all over the players, especially Rivers after the game as you may have seen in the raw videos we put up.  Rivers gladly signed for fans and interacted with them.

-John Wall came over to speak with Jackson and gave me a nod.  And Mr. Clifton shadowed his every move.  It has become clear that a certain group is taking care of Kentucky, Louisville and Baylor.  Gee, I wonder is those handshakes we hear about happen.

-Kentucky fans there seemed like a cross between passionate and crazy.  Seriously, there were a lot of them and for good reason.  Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis are going to be scary good from day one.  Gilchrist seemed to be adjusting while Davis seemed to be realizing how hard he is to defend.

-While McAdoo won the MVP for the East, his teammate PJ Hairston seemed lost and did not have a great game.  Hairtson is accustomed to getting a lot of shots and will take them.  It will be interesting to see how Williams gets kids minutes with everybody returning.  The pressure started when Barnes said he was coming back.

-DJ Augustine was also sitting on near me and he liked Myck Kabongo’s game.  Interestingly, once he made a comment on how he is quick and keeps his team together, the East had lost a big lead and were arguing with each other.

-A guy tapped me on the back and wanted my autograph, saying you are a scout right.  I smiled looked at Jackson and kindly said you don’t want me to mess up that hat with all the autographs.  Actually, I was just taking a cue from Harrison Barnes and playing rock star, LOL.

-A Kyle Singler game alum video hit the screen up top and you guessed it, boo birds were at it again.  Man, Charlotte is a UNC town, always has been and always will be.  I wonder how many kids got an ear full from MJ who was pretty much the reason Barnes went to UNC.  One Duke alumni, Jay Bilas, sporting reading glasses, got away with no heckles.  Looks like his objectivity is working.  Ever wonder why Duke alum don’t spew the cracks UNC ones do?

-Overall this is a good event and for entertainment only.  After worries about a small crowd, the place had more than a few fans. [/private]

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