Bull Market—Trending Up
- Quinn Cook: Cook has emerged as a very legitimate third option on a team led by two dominant scorers in Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker. Against No. 4 Arizona in the NIT Season Tip-off finale, Cook provided the scoring punch in the first half when Jabari Parker struggled, scoring eight points on 4-for-5 shooting. In the second half Cook took a back seat offensively, opting instead to feed the hot hand of Rodney Hood. In the the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Cook was the facilitator in the first half and the scorer in the second. After doling out six helpers in the first 20 minutes, Cook scored 24 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the second half. Cook has some mental lapses on occasion—his technical foul against Michigan being one of them—but he could become one of the top floor generals in the NCAA when all is said and done.
- Amile Jefferson: Jefferson was touted as the third guaranteed starter in the preseason by head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but he has failed to live up to the expectations of playing the third musketeer to Parker and Hood. Now coming off the bench, Jefferson seems to be refinding his game. The sophomore went 3-for-3 from the field against Michigan, grabbed six boards, blocked a shot and played solid defense against Mitch McGary and the other Wolverine bigs. For the season, Jefferson is shooting 73.3 percent from the floor and is averaging 10.8 rebounds per 40 minutes. With more games like the one he played against Michigan, Jefferson will be back in the starting five sooner rather than later.
- Seth Curry: Curry didn't end up making the Golden State Warriors in training camp, and thus took his talents to the NBA D-League to ply his wares for the Warriors' affiliate in Santa Cruz. Now, Curry has emerged as one of the best players in the league. His 20.8 points rank him 10th in the league and his 8.6 assists rank behind only Houston Rockets assignee and former Murray State standout Isaiah Canaan. How incredible is it that Curry is averaging 8.6 assists per game? The 43 assists he's accumulated in five games is just 11 shy of his total in 35 games played last season. If Curry can keep his play at this level he'll at least earn a 10-day contract from an NBA team later this season.
- Rasheed Sulaimon: Coach K may not have a doghouse, but Sulaimon does not appear to be in Krzyzewski's good graces. The sophomore shooting guard had high expectations coming into the season after a productive freshman campaign, and those expectations only increased after scoring 20 points against Davidson in the season opener. Tuesday night, Sulaimon hit rock bottom, receiving a DNP-CD. It's hard to blame Krzyzewski for benching Sulaimon, as his performance has been dreadful of late. In his last six games 'Sheed is a paltry 6-for-28 from the floor. That's 21.4 percent. The problem in part is that, though excellent at getting into the paint, he struggles to finish. Instead of going strong to the hole on his penetration, all too often Sulaimon fades back to avoid contact only to miss badly or have his shot blocked. Until Sulaimon figures it out in practice, there is no sense in him playing over defensive ace Matt Jones and the sweet-shooting Andre Dawkins.
Tyler Thornton: This doesn't have to do with Thornton's play, which has been very strong of late—especially his defensive work against Nik Stauskas earlier this week. No, Thornton's stock is down because he doesn't know how to spell Krzyzewski. C'mon Tyler. It's your fourth year in the program. Learn how to spell your own coach's name. It's just inexcusable. Note: pay attention to Maryland's Nick Faust and his spelling of Coach K's name. It's worthwhile.
The Blue Devil: Two top-10 teams met on a neutral court when then-No. 4 Arizona and Duke squared off at Madison Square Garden for the NIT Season Tip-off title. One team had its mascot there for support. The other was Duke. I'm not saying that Duke would have beaten an extremely talented Wildcat team if the mascot had been in attendance. I'm merely saying that the Blue Devil's absence was conspicuous. On a related note, the black jerseys shoulder as much blame as the mascot, and are similarly trending down.
Joe Harris: Duke fans, you remember Joe Harris right? The 6-foot-6 wing who poured in 36 points against the Blue Devils in an upset victory at Virginia late last season? Well his game has taken a significant step back this season. The preseason All-ACC selection averaged 16.3 points per game last season. This year, he's at just 11.2 points after a disaster of a game against Wisconsin in which he shot 1-for-10 and his Cavaliers scored a total of 38 points. Harris is on pace for a career-best shooting percentage—despite his dud against the Badgers—but he has not been the offensive force we expected after his noteworthy junior season.