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Rasheed Sulaimon on benching vs. Michigan: Coach K ‘made the right call’

Jan 16, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

Virginia v Duke Getty Images

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.

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