Rasheed Sulaimon’s sophomore season has not been what he thought it would be.
It’s not what we all thought it would be, either.
Duke’s talented shooting guard has had trouble this season adapting to being forced into being a role player, a guy that is the third or fourth option offensively to a couple of players that didn’t even play for the Blue Devils last season.
He was benched. He was embarrassed. And, as he told Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, it was all for the best:
“He made the right call sitting me out of the [Michigan] game,” Sulaimon said. “I could have come up with a million excuses of why I didn’t play … blamed somebody. The reality of the situation is I put myself in that situation. I had to get back to playing like myself, really. I felt embarrassed, like I let my teammates down, even though we won. I knew I never wanted to feel like that again.”
It was an ingenious bit of coaching from Mike Krzyzewski, proving to Sulaimon that he wouldn’t play if he didn’t play Coach K’s way and that the Blue Devils didn’t need him to play to win games.
But here’s the thing: they do need Sulaimon if they are going to win games, particularly with Jabari Parker struggling the way that the is right now. They just need him to believe in his role, and based on the performance he had in Tuesday night’s win over Virginia, it looks like that is starting to happen.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.