Quinn Cook scored 24 points to go with a game high 9 assists on Tuesday evening as Duke defeated Michigan 79-69 in Cameron Indoor Stadium in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Blue Devil Nation caught up to a humble Cook for his post game comments –
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke junior Quinn Cook has been named to the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame committee Tuesday. The annual honor, named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, recognizes the top point guards in men’s college basketball.
Cook earned third team All-ACC (ACSMA) honors last season while averaging 11.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. The Washington, D.C., native finished second in the ACC in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4:1), fifth in steals (1.4 spg.) and ninth in minutes (33.6 mpg.), while starting 34 of Duke’s 36 contests. Cook scored in double-figures 21 times a year ago with three games with 20-or-more points and also added three double-digit assist contests. He also developed into a reliable perimeter weapon, knocking down 55 three-point field goals while shooting 39.3 percent from behind the arc.
“The Hall of Fame is proud to work with Mr. Cousy and honor the best point guards playing in college basketball right now,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “This list represents some of the top student athletes from across the country. We are truly honored to be a part of this award.”
“The Bob Cousy Award promotes the values of leadership, determination, and teamwork, all skills needed not only on the hardwood but also in life,” said Ken Kaufman, Chair of the Bob Cousy Award and former president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). “Mr. Cousy exemplified all of these traits, and continues to be an inspiration to basketball players on and off the court.”
This watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to a final 20 in early February, then final five by early March. A premier selection committee has been appointed by the Hall of Fame to review the candidates in contention for the nation’s top collegiate point guard award. This committee is made up of top college basketball personnel including members of the media, head coaches, media relations contacts and Hall of Famers. The Cousy Award winner will be presented the award on Championship Monday in Dallas at the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 Announcement and Press Conference.
Previous winners of the Bob Cousy Award have included Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph’s), Raymond Felton (North Carolina), Dee Brown (Illinois), Acie Law (Texas A&M), DJ Augustin (Texas), Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Kendall Marshall (North Carolina) and last year’s recipient Trey Burke (Michigan).
Blue Devil Nation caught up to Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook in the Duke locker room after the Duke Blue Devils defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 73-68 to push their season record to 22-2.
It took a half for Duke to adapt to the physicality of the game, but adjust they did, and that resulted in a 73-68 victory over Ohio State in a rollicking Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Duke guards came alive in the second half and that, combined with another herculean effort from Mason Plumlee, led Duke to its seventh win on the young season, helping the #2 rated team remain undefeated.
Mason Plumlee now All-Time Dunk Leader at Duke
With four dunks, Mason Plumlee has more flushes than anybody in the history of Duke Basketball, surpassing Robert Brickey for that honor. His play prompted Jeff Goodman to tweet that Mason is now the front-runner for National Player of the Year. Plumlee scored a game-high 21 points to go with 17 rebounds in yet another outstanding performance, one which may finally earn him overdue ACC Player of the Week honors. Plumlee has started in 58 of his last 61 games at Duke and has an ACC-leading four double-doubles this season. He became the 17th player in Duke history to reach 700 rebounds tonight as well. When asked about the Blue Devils’ early season success, Plumlee stated, “We love it. The schedule at Duke is part of the reason you come here and I think this team has embraced the schedule and the challenges we’ve had.”
Rasheed Sulaimon erupts in the 2nd half
Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon earned high praise from Coach Krzyzeswki in the post-game press conference. On a night when Seth Curry struggled with his shot, Sulaimon’s 17 second half points were vital in the Duke win. Sulaimon is quite cool under pressure and never seems to let anything get to him, including a first half where he did not score. He’s hit at least one three-pointer in each of the Blue Devils’ seven wins. “Coach told me to step it up (at the half). My teammates just trust in me. I wanted to step up for my teammates, and when he called my number I was just very aggressive and delivered,” said Sulaimon.
Quinn Cook has another solid effort
At the half Quinn Cook had 2 points and 2 assists. He ended the game with 12 points, including 6 of 7 free throws down the stretch with the game on the line, as well as totalling 8 assists. But his biggest stat was his six defensive rebounds. Cook also hit players like Mason Plumlee for huge momentum-changing buckets, including the ESPN Play of the Day, a thuderous one-handed dunk on the break. “Quinn played a great game. He was up against one of the best point guards in America (Craft). An amazing stat for Quinn was his six defensive rebounds,” said Krzyzewski when asked about Cook. Quinn has turned a corner with his play of late, and he’s stepped up to the plate for good this go round. The Blue Devils have turned over the keys to Cook this season, and he seems to be relishing the role of being the starting point guard at Duke.
Ryan Kelly knocked down 3 of 5 three-pointers and those came at big moments in the game for Duke, and he finished with 15 points. Krzyzewski praised Kelly in the post-game as well, saying it was his best game of the season. Kelly’s back-to-back three-point shots in a 40 second span brought the Crazies to their feet and helped swing the momentum in the Blue Devils’ favor after they had trailed for almost the entire game.
Mental toughness and resolve helped Duke win this game. The Blue Devils weathered a first half performance where they struggled to get shots off and in the second half locked down much more on the defensive end. Mason Plumlee was the best player on the court and he imposed his will at times, and that was needed on a night when Curry was a bit off or possibly hurting from his shin issues. Duke is Final Four material on November 29th and they can get even better. They have games coming up where they can develop their bench, which scored just four points against Ohio State, and will soon get Marshall Plumlee back from his foot injury as well. Duke has gone up against the nation’s best and has passed all tests with flying colors, having defeated three of the four teams from last year’s Final Four already. Add to that wins over Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth and this team is more than a little battle-tested. And the most recent four wins have come in just seven days. More importantly, the team chemistry is as good as it’s ever been, and for that to happen this early in the season is a testament to the staff’s off-season adjustments.
- Duke has now won 97 consecutive non-conference home games.
- The Blue Devils have now defeated three top five teams this season.
- Duke improved to 12-2 all-time in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
- The Blue Devils have started 7-0 for the third straight season, and have won 56 of their last 57 games played in November.
- Duke improved to 111-16 when ranked in the #2 position in the national polls.
- Against Ohio State, Duke trailed at the half for the first time this season. Four Blue Devils score in double figures and the game marked the fifth straight in which Duke has used the same starting lineup.
Blue Devil Nation Video and Ball is Life brings you this highlight reel on Quinn Cook.
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A year ago, anyone planning to write about Duke’s then-freshman class would have had a lot of work to do, as there were five, count ‘em five, new Blue Devils to assess. Today, the job is much easier, as that group of five frosh from 2011-12 has for a number of different reasons dwindled to a one man sophomore class. Nobody really expected Austin Rivers to stick around for more than a year, and sure enough, he declared for the draft after his freshman year and was a lottery pick of the New Orleans Hornets. Alex Murphy, who had been playing very well in the off-season, the trip to China, and the pre-season, suffered a concussion and ultimately took a redshirt. Marshall Plumlee just wasn’t ready physically to contribute at this level, and would have just ridden the pine behind his brothers, so he was redshirted as well. And then Michael Gbinije, who never earned any significant playing time despite the team being in dire need of some length and defense on the wing, bugged out for Syracuse.
That leaves point guard Quinn Cook, a player whose development many observers, including this one, believe will be critical to the success of this year’s Blue Devils. The 6’1” Cook had an outstanding high school career, playing his first three years at DeMatha before transferring to Oak Hill for his senior campaign. He was widely regarded as the top player in the D.C. metro area, and one of the top point guards in the nation. Quinn suffered a partial tear to his knee, however, in practices leading up to the Elite 24 game in the summer of 2010, between his junior and senior seasons in high school. He came back sooner than expected and had a solid senior campaign, though, was named a McDonald’s All-American, and wound up ranked as the #31 ranked player in the RSCI ratings – very likely lower than he would have been absent the knee problem. But he probably rushed back too soon from the injury, and he was never 100%. The knee continued to bother him, so much so that Duke shut him down last summer, meaning Quinn did not play in the games during Duke’s trip to China and Dubai, and missed a number of preseason practices as well.
Cook was ready for the start of the season, though, but it never seemed that he quite got untracked all year long. His performance was up and down, which is not uncommon of course for a freshman, especially a freshman point guard. His minutes were inconsistent because his play was inconsistent. He had moments where he was brilliant in taking the ball to the hoop and finishing. He dropped dimes to teammates who didn’t even realize they were so open. But on defense, he struggled to move laterally and therefore to stay in front of penetrating opponents, and he did not always seem quick to the ball. He also had mental lapses where he just flat-out missed defensive assignments, which usually resulted in an immediate hook from Coach K. Quinn appeared to be making real progress though, with a string of solid games in December and early January, but then he re-tweaked the bad knee at Clemson, and that set him back again, and he never regained any real consistency.
Quinn finished the year with averages of 11.7 minutes, 4.4 points on 40% shooting (25% from 3 point land), 2 assists, and an excellent 3.5:1 assist to turnover ratio, clearly the best on the team.
So why is he going to be such a key component of this year’s team? After all, Duke lost only Austin Rivers on the perimeter, and he didn’t play point. Well, one of the real weaknesses of last year’s squad was the absence of a true, natural point guard, one who could both penetrate and dish, as well as score on the offensive end, and then also D-up opposing guards – and be a floor general out there. You know, the kind of player that Quinn Cook can be. The Seth Curry Point Guard Experiment did not go as planned, and was scrapped. Tyler Thornton is a hard-nosed, energetic defender and a real leader, but he is quite limited offensively. Rasheed Sulaimon, while showing great promise, may turn out to be an option at the point, but I don’t think that’s his natural position and I don’t think that’s where K would ideally like to play him. The best thing for this team would be for Quinn Cook to remain healthy and to take over as Duke’s unquestioned point guard, and stay there.
Quinn had an excellent summer in 2012. He got some solid international experience playing for the East Coast All-Stars at the Four Nations Cup in Estonia, where he ended up averaging 22 points per game and being named to the All-Tournament team. He was outstanding at the NC Pro-Am as well, where he joined forces with a number of Duke teammates, and spent time working out with his God-brother Nolan Smith.
Best of all, Quinn is healthy. He appears to have finally given the knee a chance to heal, and it shows. From all reports from the summer and as pre-season practice begins, he is moving much more smoothly, he is quicker, he is faster, he is pushing the ball on offense and moving his feet on defense. This is a kid who has all the skills and all the talent needed to take over as the quarterback of this team, as Coach K envisioned when he recruited him. Quinn doesn’t need to score 20 points per game. What he does need to do is what he does naturally, which is control the flow and tempo of the game, push the ball when the opportunity arises, penetrate into the lane, dish, and hit open jumpshots. That’s on offense. On D, he needs to be in the shirt of the opposing point, and be ready to move his feet to contain dribble penetration. He’s simply got to commit on the defensive end. Quinn is not a tall point guard by any stretch, but he has a solid body. He needs to use it, so the opponent cannot get in position to shoot over him.
Tyler Thornton is a nice player who does have some skills, and is a kid who definitely has a role on this team. But let’s face it: he’s not the natural PG nor does he have some of the tools Quinn Cook possesses. If Cook can maximize that potential – and now that he’s healthy, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t – as well as develop into a leader out there, he can solidify Duke at the most important position on the floor. If you then consider the three solid seniors in Duke’s lineup, plus dynamic freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, highly skilled redshirt freshman Alex Murphy, an intriguing prospect in Amile Jefferson, and others, well now we’re getting somewhere.