At the beginning of this season, the Duke Blue Devils did not have a legitimate starting point guard. There were several games where Tyler Thornton started at the point guard position.
However, after several stellar performances, the job was turned over to sophomore guard, Quinn Cook. Cook has gradually improved. He still has a great deal of room for improvement, but before we speak about that, let’s focus on what he has done in a short amount of time. Cook ranks second in the ACC in assists per game (6.2), behind Lorenzo Brown (North Carolina State Wolfpack). Cook is tied with Durand Scott (Miami Hurricanes), when it comes to being ranked third in the ACC in steals per game (1.8).
Next, Cook is tied with Dexter Strickland (North Carolina Tar Heels), when it comes to being ranked first in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8). As you can see, Cook is having a heck of a season. The numbers don’t lie.
Cook’s playing time literally tripled from his freshman season (11.7 minutes per game) to his sophomore season (33.6). Now that Cook is playing major minutes, the rock will be in his hands a great deal; in particular, during crunch time. Blue Devils’ head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, will rely on Cook to be a leader during these times.
In some situations, Cook will have to take the big shot. This is his biggest area of improvement. Now that Ryan Kelly is not playing due to injury, Cook becomes the third or fourth option behind Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, and perhaps Rasheed Sulaimon.
Currently, Cook has a 41.2% field goal percentage. He makes less than half of his field goal attempts. He can alleviate this problem by not trying to force things. Cook should allow the game to come to him. He has senior leadership in Curry and Plumlee, who will have more shot attempts anyway. Moreover, the more he focuses on facilitating, the better he gets when it comes to scoring. In Cook’s case, less is more.
The $60,000 dollar question that I asked earlier is hard to answer; however, I will respond this way. Duke won a championship in 2010 with Jon Scheyer as their facilitator. He was a shooting guard who manned the point guard due to his ability to minimize turnovers. The 2010 Blue Devils had three scorers (Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith) who averaged over 17 points a game that season.
This year’s Blue Devils have to take the same approach as the 2010 team. Cook is not a dominant point guard like Jay Williams was, but he is a decent enough point guard to get them to the Final Four and possibly a championship, similar to Chris Duhon.