Duke Blue Devils
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #20
Conference Rank: #3 ACC
Duke Team Page
Duke had some unmemorable moments during the 2011-2012 campaign. Unfortunately, those moments came at the most memorable times. The Blue Devils lost three of their last four games, the season ender against North Carolina, the second round of the ACC Tournament against Florida State and, of course, the NCAA Tournament game against Lehigh. This was a Duke team that failed to play their usual quality of defense that we have become accustom to seeing under Coach Krzyzewski. When the offense got into a bit of a sputter at the end of the season, the Blue Devils were in trouble.
2011-12 Record: 27-7, 13-3
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Coach Record: 854-232 at Duke, 927-291 overall
And improving seems tough after losing leading scorer Austin Rivers. Rivers was never the most consistent scorer, and it can be argued that his burst of turnovers and occasional ill-advised shots just hampered the offense even more, but the bottom line is Rivers made shots and averaged 15.5 points per game. Surely Duke has the scorers to replace those points, but it remains to be seen if anybody else can be more efficient and effective. The backcourt takes a bit of hit to their depth with the redshirting of Andre Dawkins. Dawkins averaged 8.4 points and started 14 games as a sophomore. He will be back for 2013-2014. Miles Plumlee is the lone loss in the frontcourt. He did start 16 games last year and made his mark on the glass with 7.1 rebounds per game. Miles Plumlee was also a decent enough shot blocker. But when there are two Plumlee’s on the team that are better, it is difficult to dwell too long on the loss of one Plumlee.
This is where Coach K believes his team can turn things around. The backcourt was too small and the athleticism across the board was lacking for the most part. That leads to relatively bad defense. The four newcomers should remedy that nagging issue. Rasheed Sulaimon is one of the best shooters in the ACC before he even takes a shot for Duke. Sulaimon will provide a nice offensive spark right away, but he will stay on the floor because of his 6-4 frame and his ability to play fine defense. Amile Jefferson is the other incoming freshman and the athleticism provided by the 6-8 forward will again bolster the defense since he will spend most of his time as a big wing. Jefferson is a bit raw at this point in his career, but his athleticism can make up for it. Alex Murphy is another big 6-8 forward who can play, and defend, multiple positions. After redshirting last year, Murphy is ready to compete for major minutes. And then there is the newest Plumlee. Marshall, who also redshirted last season, is not really like his brothers. At 6-11 and 235 pounds, Marshall Plumlee spends most of his time in the paint. There he can do plenty of scoring and help out on the glass much more than departed brother Miles.
Who to Watch:
It will be more fun to watch Seth Curry and the big freshmen on the wings, but those are not the positions that will be the difference between a Final Four run and another agonizingly early exit in March. That pressure will fall on the point guards. Tyler Thornton stepped into a starting role relatively late in the season, but did a fine job taking care of the ball, averaging 2.0 assists and 1.0 turnovers per game. He is not a scorer and his inability to shoot is a problem. Quinn Cook was slowed by injuries as a freshman, but does have the potential to turn into a point guard worthy of running a Duke team to the Final Four. Thornton is the more experienced and defensive minded option. Cook has not proven that he can score though either. Those two can run the show and keep the turnovers down, but getting less than five points per game out of your point guard is not a thing Duke is used to. Curry actually led the team in assists last year, but that will not happen again if Duke finds a point guard and sticks with it. That would be ideal, and probably be Thornton, since he is more likely to begin the season playing more minutes. But the Blue Devils may not be able to afford having Curry worry about handling the ball for a few minutes a game. Curry needs to score. He is a good shooter and a great finisher around the basket. With all of those Rivers points gone, the pressure is on Curry to pick up the slack.
For now, Mason Plumlee is the best Plumlee. He could have split a year early for the NBA, but opted to return for his senior season after tallying 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds. He could be a 15 and 10 guy this year. Mason also provides the most potent shot blocking threat on the team. Ryan Kelly will join him up front. Kelly had a surprising 2011-2012 campaign. The 6-11 senior knocked down 40.8 percent of his three-point attempts and averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. It was Kelly who got hurt late last year and missed the last three games of the season. That is when the offense really struggled. Duke will usually create open looks for their shooters and Kelly knocked them down. Without him, the offense was not the same. Josh Hairston will not put up big numbers, but he is an upperclassman and a somewhat experienced power forward. The Blue Devils should be able to overcome an injury better than they did at the end of last year. Kelly was just a part-time starter and losing him should not result in a loss to Lehigh. And that certainly was not the only reason Duke lost that game. This group should be a little deeper, a bit bigger and much more athletic thanks to the group of freshmen. With depth and athleticism and size, defense should follow and by March that should be enough to at least eye the Sweet Sixteen.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Tyler Thornton, Junior, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Seth Curry, Senior, Guard, 13.2 points per game
Alex Murphy, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Ryan Kelly, Senior, Forward, 11.8 points per game
Mason Plumlee, Senior, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#40 Mason Plumlee
#66 Andre Dawkins
#89 Ryan Kelly
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#17 Rasheed Sulaimon
#22 Amile Jefferson