Quinn Cook vs Tyus Jones: Which PG Gives Duke a Better Chance at Winning a Title?
We are amidst another off season for the Duke Blue Devils. Despite last season’s unexpected first round upset, expectations remain high among the Cameron Crazies. The Blue Devils lost their dynamic duo of Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. But as they say in Durham, Duke doesn’t rebuild, they reload.
Last season, the Blue Devils were one of the most talented teams in the country on paper. But the team was never able to reach its potential. Their lack of size in the front court, the inability to stop dribble penetration, and the lack of ball movement plagued the team. As a result, it created inconsistent play throughout the season.
This season, coach Mike Krzyzewski has landed one of his most prized recruiting classes in his coaching career. The shortcomings of last season’s team should now be strengths for the Blue Devils. But before Coach K can pursue his fifth NCAA Title, the coaching staff will have to define the roles of a very talented Duke squad.
One of the biggest questions facing Coach K is who will be the starting point guard. Duke has the luxury of two elite point guards, both of whom bring different styles of play at the position. Quinn Cook the veteran senior and highly touted freshman Tyus Jones.
Cook and Jones have a notable scenario similar to Duke’s 2008-2009 season. Greg Paulus who was four year starter eventually lost his starting job to then sophomore Nolan Smith. Cook and Jones are both more than capable of being the starting point guard. However, based off their opposing styles of play, Coach K will need to decide which floor general gives Duke a better chance at winning.
Over the past three seasons, the Blue Devils have seen the highs and lows of Cook’s play. He has shown stretches of great poise and production at the position. Cook has two full seasons of playing major minutes at point guard. Out of anyone on this year’s squad, Cook knows what is expected by Krzyzewski. Replacing the production of Parker and Hood will be no easy task. Coach K will be able to rely on the senior to not only be productive, but also be a player’s coach especially towards the four freshmen.
Cook is already mentally tested and understands how grueling a NCAA season can be. His experience is invaluable. Another strong attribute Cook brings to the table is his fiery competitive spirit. Every team needs a competitor who’s passionate on the court. Whether it involves fist pumping teammates, floor slaps on defense, or crowd interaction, Cook definitely knows how to get his team fired up. And when it comes to home court advantage, no other player gets the Cameron Crazies as crazy as Cook.
However the senior does have room for improvement. Cook made major strides during this sophomore season. He increased in every statistical category imaginable. Many critics assumed his efficiency would only improve with the arrival of Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. Unfortunately, his role changed on several occurrences throughout the season. Initially, he began the season as the starting point guard with strong offensive performances against Davidson (21 points and 8 assists) and Michigan (24 points and 9 assists). But as the ACC regular season began, he seemed to be a completely different player.
It’s no secret that Cook isn’t afraid to call his own number to score. Some would even go as far to say that he has poor shot selection. Cook created a problem for Duke’s offense because of his decision to shoot the ball rather than create. With a roster that featured two first-round NBA draft picks, a McDonald’s All-American Rasheed Sulaimon, and a lethal shooter in Andre Dawkins, Cook’s assists total wasn’t that impressive. In fact, Cook regressed in production, decreasing to 29.8 MPG, 0.37P% 2.2 RPG and 4.4 APG. His slight decrease in efficiency may not seem major but being that Cook played major minutes, it does draw some concern.
Parker and Hood were the only players that attempted more shots than Cook last season. Cook had 71 more shot attempts than shooting guard Sulaimon. Furthermore, only Parker and freshman Matt Jones shot a lower 3p% than Cook. This is an issue because Cook led the team in three-point attempts at 175. Efficiency wise, he was the worst three-point shooter on the roster.
Often, Cook would settle for a jump-shot as opposed to looking for ways to get the ball to the team’s scorers. More times than not, his long missed shots led to fast break opportunities for opponents. This placed too much pressure on Duke’s inferior defense.
All in all, Cook’s style of play has favorable and unfavorable consequences. Sometimes it leads to bad shots while other times, it bails the team out of a stagnant offense.