#4 Duke Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Duke Blue Devils

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #1 ACC

Duke Team Page#4 Duke Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Duke Basketball Tickets

With all of the recruiting publicity the Duke Blue Devils received from both the 2013-14 class and this incoming 2014-15 class, many casual observers easily forget the fact that Duke collapsed horribly in the postseason last year. It started with a defeat in the ACC tournament at the hands of Virginia. That was immediately followed by a second-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to the Mercer Bears. Jabari Parker and 5-star prospect headlines helped overshadow the back-page news that the Blue Devils lost when it actually mattered. In this day and age, sometimes winning the offseason is considered more important than winning basketball games.

2013-14 Record: 26-9, 13-5
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Coach Record: 910-247 at Duke, 983-306 overall

Who’s Out:
Jabari Parker is the name to highlight here. As a freshman, Parker was extraordinary. He led this team in points (19.1 per game), rebounds (8.7) and blocks (1.2). He played both forward spots and routinely banged down low as the small-ball center for Coach K’s club. There were valid reasons Parker was selected as the second player in the NBA draft. Of course, Duke lost more than just Parker this offseason. Rodney Hood was also selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Hood was an excellent shooter and scorer, someone capable of taking over games if the situation dictated it. Duke scored 79 points per game last season, and these two accounted for close to 45 percent of that. Also gone are key senior contributors Tyler Thornton and Andre Dawkins. Neither was a star but they had useful skills (Thornton – defense, ball handling; Dawkins – outside shooting) that will be missed.

Who’s In:
In what is becoming a trend for Coach Krzyzewski and Duke, the roster on this team is filled with another batch of top recruits. In fact, Duke had the best recruiting class in the nation. Five-star center, check: Jahlil Okafor; 5-star point guard, check: Tyus Jones; 5-star small forward, check: Justise Winslow; 5-star shooting guard, check: Grayson Allen. This batch of rookies is unparalleled in the non-Calipari category of college basketball. Okafor is already being tabbed as a likely top overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft. His high school buddy Jones is the number-one rated point guard. Winslow and Allen both enter as great team players with immediately translatable skills at the Division I level. There is no clear weakness or evident hole in this recruiting class other than figuring out how to get everyone minutes.

Who to Watch:
The interesting thing for unbiased basketball fans (and Duke haters alike) will be witnessing the Blue Devil faithful grow weary if the returning players garner too many minutes over these incoming goliaths. However, the players coming back for Duke are talented dudes who deserve to see the court. Quinn Cook is a competitor in every sense of the word. Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye are top recruits in their own right who struggled to find court time last season and may again this year. Inside, Amile Jefferson proved himself worthy of starter’s minutes as he grew into his role and his frame. And then there’s Rasheed Sulaimon, perhaps the least flashy yet unpredictable star in the country. Sulaimon will have games where he looks like an All-American followed by games where Coach K can’t play him more than 20 minutes. With this new batch of freshmen entering, it will be even more of a juggling act as far as this team’s rotation is concerned. Oh yeah, there is also a Plumlee still hanging around.

Final Projection:
This roster is going to look and play differently than what we have grown accustomed to seeing from Duke teams. Rather than spacing the floor with a bunch of bombers and throwing any old stiff in the middle to clog the paint on defense (no offense to the Plumlee family!), this year Duke’s best player may be a center who needs touches on the block. Also, besides maybe Sulaimon and Allen, the rotation in general will not be made up of prolific three-point shooters. Instead, the Blue Devils will get their buckets from dribble drives, post-ups and plays at the rim. It may be something we haven’t seen since the Gerald Henderson days. That said, this staff is experienced enough to work this team towards whatever endgame is most beneficial, and Duke is an early favorite to play into April.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Tyus Jones, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Rasheed Sulaimon, Junior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Matt Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 1.8 points per game
Amile Jefferson, Junior, Forward, 6.5 points per game
Jahlil Okafor, Freshman, Center, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.4 (27th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.4 (104, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.0 (81, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.6 (268, 14)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.0 (7, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.5 (14, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.9 (66, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.0 (120, 9)
Assists Per Game: 14.5 (58, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.5 (8, 2)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#1 Jahlil Okafor
#16 Tyus Jones
#18 Justise Winslow
#45 Quinn Cook

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#1 Jahlil Okafor
#8 Tyus Jones
#12 Justise Winslow
#25 Grayson Allen


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