MEN'S BASKETBALL: Parker Buries The Eagles
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 02:02
He is versatile and efficient. People say he is an athlete, though they think Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle—the two freshmen that the Duke forward is often measured against—have a bit more to offer. Another thing the experts said was that Jabari Parker doesn’t have that extra step. He doesn’t have that something that the great players have.
Well, he does.
Jabari Parker is explosive.
Against Boston College, Parker blew up, not only by lighting up his box score, but also through his play on the floor. The way he got his 29 points and 16 rebounds was impressive. He didn’t hit one three the whole night, getting all of his points the old-fashioned way in Duke’s 89-68 victory.
A matchup against BC was the perfect storm for the superstar. BC is a team crippled by weakness down low. While Parker is a player who can hit shots from everywhere, his ability to attack the basket showed up at Conte Forum. In the first half, he had five buckets—each from within inches of the rim.
Just moments into the game after a block by Alex Dragicevich sought to build the Eagles’ confidence against a Duke team that isn’t the biggest, Parker got the ball in the lane on the next possession. With his back to the basket and Dragicevich lurking behind him, Parker spun to his left and leaped through the transfer and Ryan Anderson for a dunk.
It was too easy and quite frightening, according Olivier Hanlan, who experienced Parker’s skills when guarding him in the first half.
“Whenever he gets it going, it can be scary,” Hanlan said after the game.
When Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski got his best attacker isolated against a defender like Dragicevich, two points were guaranteed. His ability to beat an opponent 1-on-1 and annihilate BC’s help defense—as he did when Anderson went to assist Dragicevich—showed the forward at his best.
Parker got hot in the second half, even though the Eagles threw many defensive looks at the freshman. Steve Donahue showed a bit of zone and some man defense against the Blue Devils to throw Parker & Co. off their game. Most Eagles who saw playing time got to guard Parker, and that rarely bode well for Donahue, who had nobody to matchup against the game’s leading scorer.
Dragicevich, Hanlan, and Joe Rahon guarded Parker in the game’s first 10 minutes, while Anderson served as their primary source of help in the paint.
“Our concepts are always help-side defense, playing defense as a unit, whether it’s Jabari Parker or whoever it is that has the ball,” Anderson said. “We try to never have a 1-on-1 matchup. It’s always guys helping each other.”
BC is not an example of a good defense, though, as it allows an ACC-worst average of 74 points per game. The team’s biggest weakness all season has been in the paint, and that is where Parker lived on Saturday evening. Krzyzewski’s Duke was able to get the ball in to Parker, who did the dirty work in the lane.
“They really worked it into him, and that’s a handful,” Donahue said.
Even more devastating was Parker’s ability to beat down the Eagles on the boards. He used his leap to beat Anderson, BC’s leading rebounder, in the paint.
Offensively and around the rim, Parker is everything BC does not have. The Eagles are very much reliant on shooting from long range, and their only weapon on the inside is Anderson, who has been stuck at the five most of the season, as opposed to being at the four, which he favors. While Krzyzewski complimented Anderson’s all-around ability the last time the Blue Devils visited Conte Forum, there is one thing that Anderson and this team lacks—athleticism.
Garland Owens is the closest piece the Eagles have to a Parker-esque specimen. Owens was BC’s most-hyped recruit coming into Donahue’s fourth season at the Heights and has seen limited playing time. While injuries can explain that to an extent, the freshman has not been preferred to Patrick Heckmann and Dragicevich at times during the season. Owens can get to the rack, and he played his part in BC’s early successes against No. 11 Duke. His leap over Amile Jefferson after a missed shot by Rasheed Sulaimon led to a Hanlan and-1 that pulled the Eagles within one.
Donahue’s freshman forward was able to get in the way of Jefferson on a few occasions, and his baseline drive from the left side midway through the second half highlighted his quickness. The problem is that in Owens’ 22 minutes against Duke, he was only able to produce those exciting moments. He is a game-breaker, but not necessarily a go-to man for the Eagles.