One of the true and constant bright lights of last season was the guy I nicknamed “Su-Su-Sulaimon” after the Phil Collins song. Quick and dangerous from anywhere on the court, the 6-foot-4 190 pound guard never seemed to have a learning-curve like most freshmen as he fit right into a starting role.
By Bermuda Bob
One of the aspects that, I believe, was responsible for his solid start and season was his play with the 2013 FIBA U-19 World Championship team where he averaged 8.4 ppg on 40 percent shooting from outside the Arc. This was a follow-up to his participation on the 2012 U-18 FIBA Americas team that played and won gold in Brazil.
Last season, he played all 36 games, averaging just shy of 30 minutes, and 11.6 ppg. He is a deft shooter from the charity stripe at 81 percent, while shooting 37 percent outside the arc and 43 percent from inside the three-point line.
This season, his maturity and quickness will be depended on as Duke will almost always be the smaller squad. It remains to be seen what scheme Coach K will settle on, but rest assured, No. 14 will always be on the court and in the midst of things.
ROWAN SHIELL adds:
As Bermuda Bob pointed out Rasheed Sulaimon had a great season offensively but that was just the icing on the cake. It was his defense that was most noteworthy. In previous seasons Duke had been heavily criticized for perimeter defense.
Penetrating guards had career games against Duke. In 2011 Aaron Craft had a career game against Duke scoring a season high 17 points and eight assists in the Big Ten / ACC showdown. He got into the lane whenever he wanted as Ohio State gave Duke an unforgettable beat down.
Then there was the second round loss to Lehigh, to end the season. C J McCollum scored 30 points, only scoring six points on three pointers, because he could not be stopped. All this was exposed a year earlier when St Johns used a trio of guards to beat Duke by 15, which seemed like a lot more than that at the time.
Now with Sulaimon, Duke does not have that issue anymore. Add Tyler Thornton and the Blue Devils can boast of one of the best defensive perimeter duos in college basketball.
Even when he appeared to hit the freshman wall, offensively, Sulaimon’s defense carried him through. Mike Krzyzewski may have been hesitant to name Sulaimon, in a recent press conference, as the fifth starter (he named Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Amile Jefferson and “probably” Quinn Cook) but we know Duke’s defense starts with Sulaimon.
And it is probably a foregone conclusion that as good as Sulaimon has been that he will only be better this year and there is very little chance he won’t be on the court a good deal come the start of the season.