Friday, December 21, 2012

Rasheed Sulaimon

It has become almost conventional wisdom within the Duke community that Rasheed Sulaimon is a "better fit" for Duke than Austin Rivers. Obviously there is some disappointment from last year's team that started off well, beat UNC in one of the greatest games of all time and then become one of only six teams to lose to a 15th seed in the NCAA tournament. A lot of the team's shortcomings were blamed on Rivers. He seemed like a natural target since he was very highly recruited, the son of an NBA player and overall carried himself as a jerk. There was somewhat of a "over promise / under deliver" aspect that left a bitter taste with Rivers.

Before we get to Sulaimon, lets first look at this year's Duke team. Nobody will argue this team is playing much better than last year, but if you needed any proof the top 5 returning players (Plumlee, Curry, Kelly, Cook and Thornton) all have better FG%s than last year. Mason Plumlee in particular has gone from a *curse word to possibly the best player in the country. Because of the entire team's improvement this team has gone undefeated through the nation's toughest schedule.

*I would often yell Plumlee after a turnover, missed free throw or stupid defensive gamble.I can only assume my wife thought Plumlee was some type of curse word. Really I just thought Mason was Josh McRoberts 2.0 and would never live up to the hype.

So the team is playing much better and has had an amazing start to the season. With that start people have looked for a reason why. Is it because Mason Plumlee worked on his free throw shooting? Is it because Quinn Cook has made huge leap? Is it because Ryan Kelly improved as a defender? All of those are factors, but a lot of people seem to be pointing soley to trading out Sulaimon for Rivers.

The thing is that I don't disagree that the switch has helped the team. I tolerated Rivers, but love watching Sulaimon play. Give me even 2.5 more years of watching him play and he might reach Nolan Smith/Jon Scheyer/Shane Battier level for me. However, I find it confusing that people automatically point to Sulaimon being a better fit or more of a Duke type player. What about this? Sulaimon is just a better player than Rivers.

Let's compare.

Sulaimon was the 12th ranked recruit compared to Rivers being 3rd, so while everyone assume Rivers was going to be a NBA level talent, it isn't like people thought poorly of Sulaimon. And then when you look at actual play you see that Sulaimon has a better FG% (44% to 43%), better FT% (84% to 66%) and better 3PT% (40% to 36%). He also has more rebounds and assists per per game, while averaging almost a turnover less. And if stats aren't your thing then just watch both of them play and see who you think is a better defender. So yes he is a better fit and this team does have much better chemistry. However, I think it is also clear that Sulaimon is just a much better player than Rivers. That combined with the improvement from everyone else has made this team a legitimate threat to win the national title. Now can we get back to wondering if Jabari Parker is enough of a Duke-type player?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 - 1 year anniversary

It seems like a decent amount of people are noting the uniqueness of today's date of 12/12/12, but for me I can't help but think of 12/12/11. One year ago today I started my current job at Limited Brands. It has been a long and fun year, and if you received my Christmas card and letter then you would have seen the big highlights. Some of the lesser highlights is just how different life is right now on a daily basis. I still generally feel the same (happy), tell the same stories (sometimes repeated) and drink the same whiskey. Still the little nuances have added up to a point where looking back there has been a big monumental shift in what I do. I don't want to write anything negative amount my former company, because I liked working there and still consider a lot of former coworkers to be friends. It was a good way of spending four years. However, my job right now is just so much better. I feel engaged with the work I do and with 365 days under the belt, I can say with complete disclosure that I like what I am doing.

Of course there are days of frustration, but for the most part this job is a great fit. I love the analytical work, the people and the unique experiences that come with this job. It would have been almost unbelievable a year ago for me to know that I would be traveling on a private jet to Boise, California, Chicago and Texas. The work that I do is almost completely different than the work I did at the Well.

And in my personal life things have changed even more than professionally. My wife and I have had to get used to living in Columbus, and while we still miss Minneapolis it is pretty clear that this is now home. One of the most obvious reasons for that is because we bought a house here. I feel very fortunate to have found a house in the area of the city we wanted and at a price that gives us some financial flexibility. Also, after having lived in this house for a few months now we both really just like the house. This weekend I worked on the basement and every day it feels more and more like this place is coming together.

And to announce some bigger news (that you probably already know if you are reading this) - M is pregnant. We are thrilled/blessed/excited and are looking forward to adding to our family in May. Also, we find out in 8 days the baby's gender, so that should be a great early Christmas present.

It really seems like everything is coming in place. I wish sometimes I could tell the people that doubted me or questioned my decisions that right now I can't imagine being in another spot. Life isn't perfect, but it is still pretty good.