Posted: 1/6/2013 11:41:40 AM
Ask any college basketball analyst or national writer to tell you who the country’s top point guard is and few if anyone will utter the name Quinn Cook. Now ask any Duke Basketball fan who they’d rather have running the point this season and few if any of them would say anyone other than Quinn Cook.
Duke’s sophomore, 6-1, 170 pound guard from Washington, DC strangely enough was once one of the top point guard recruits in the country. Cook opted to come to Duke after high school in which he was a stand out at Oak Hill Academy. However, during his senior season Cook was played through a significant knee injury that never fully healed.
When he arrived on Duke’s campus last season there was much hope for him being able to fill a void, but he was not right physically or mentally and only saw spot duty during the season. He only averaged about 11 minutes and about two assists per game.
And as anyone can tell you not having a true point guard hurt the Blue Devils last year. Tyler Thornton is a tough player but is more of a serviceable back up. At times last year the Blue Devils offense had no direction, however, this year with Cook at the helm, thing are flowing and thus far Duke has been rolling.
Cook is playing about 32.6 minutes per game and averaging 10 points per game this season and is much more of an offensive threat at point guard than Thornton. He has also picked up his defense and is averaging almost 2 steals per game and has been providing, at times, very good on ball defense. Something he couldn’t do last season with his limited lateral quickness.
The thing though that makes Cook the point guard he is, is his ability to see the floor. This year he is averaging just over 6 assists per game and only about 2 turnovers per game. His assist to turnover ratio is 2.7 which is good. When Cook doesn’t try to over do it, which he has gotten better at, Duke’s offense runs like clockwork.
Cook has been able to help get Mason Plumlee the ball in a position to be the dominate post player everyone expected that Duke would need him to be. Cook has taken pressure off Seth Curry and allowed him to be the scorer he needed to be. He has also helped Ryan Kelly and allowed freshman Rasheed Sulaimon to blossom because he runs the offense so well.
In general he has just been making the right plays. He also has the ability to shoot and put the ball on the floor so that opposing defenses have to respect his offensive game behind his ability to pass. In short, Cook has been just what Duke needed this season.
Last year with the Blue Devils had one guy dominate the ball without a point guard to direct things on the floor. This season Duke has five guys averaging in double figures and are a much more balanced team offensively.
Cook has grown and matured. He handled adversity much better than he did or many were expecting him to this year. Last season proved to be a real learning experience for him and he isn’t finished growing yet.
He has matured but he still plays with an edge and a swagger that is almost a necessity these days in college basketball. Last year he tried to but physically and mentally wasn’t ready for it. He provides Duke with a fire that they didn’t always seem to have last year and all puns aside, the Blue Devils so far have been cooking with oil.
Cook has learned that he doesn’t have to be the man and Duke can flourish without him having to score. Case in point, in the game against Wake Forest Cook didn’t score but had 14 assists and only 1 turnover. The Blue Devils rarely if ever had that kind of production out of the point guard role last season.
That isn’t a knock on Tyler Thornton, as I said before he is a tough kid and a solid back up but Cook is the real deal. This season the Blue Devils are fortunate Cook is finally healthy and producing the results he has and because of that Duke has been as successful as they have been.
It is hard to say if the unexpected success of both Cook and Duke will continue but if he continues playing the way he is then you’d have to expect that it will.
As for all those who doubted or who have ignored Cook as a top point guard, I’m sure they are starting to take notice but it doesn’t matter cause with or without the superlatives thrown at him, Duke has their point guard and most importantly Cook knows it is him.
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