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Lots of Talent with a lot to Prove

Written by KFarricker
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Lots of talent with a lot to prove

Written by Kim Farricker


On paper, the Duke Blue Devil’s roster looks great next year.  Duke will have a nice mix of underclassmen and upper classmen.  They have a lot of talent that many schools would kill for.  Though Duke is losing three very talented players, they have one of the top recruiting classes coming in next year. This incoming freshman class is; Mike Gbinije, Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, Quinn Cook and “sub-zero” Austin Rivers.  Last year Duke relied heavily on seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.  This year the Blue Devils will be relying on a lot of players and will need contributions from numerous players to have another successful year.


The first major question is how much will Duke have to rely on Rivers’ offensive abilities.  Rivers is the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.  Austin is a natural scorer who many expect to dominant like Kyrie Irving did last year.  Some people expect Rivers to be a one and done.  With the CBA working on a rule that would require all players to stay in school for two years and be 20 years old, Rivers would have to stay another year.   Rivers role will increase as Duke’s top three players last year will be in the NBA draft.  Austin is expected to be one of the top players and scorers for next year’s Duke team, but he should have help.

With Duke’s top two scorers gone, some may wonder who is going to put up the offense.  Well, there are many players who could put up offense.  Austin Rivers is expected to have a big year.  Rivers is known as a scorer who has a killer crossover.  Curry averaged almost 10 points a game.  The development of Curry’s game is going to be important.  When Curry was inserted in the starting lineup, he became an offensive threat.  Last year he was Duke’s third scorer, behind Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.  Andre Dawkins can shoot lights out and he will have a good opportunity to show what he is capable of.  Mason Plumlee is also expected to be the first option inside.  Ryan Kelly is also expected to improve on his numbers from last year.  Kelly’s game improved a lot throughout his four years in high school.  Many of the players on Duke roster are capable of being offensive threats, but Curry, Rivers, Dawkins, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly are the likely top scorers.  The Blue Devils will have quite a few questions to answer, but they certainly have a very capable lineup.

Andre Dawkins is going to be one of the key players for this year’s Duke team.   Dawkins enrolled in Duke a year early because Elliot Williams transferred and Gerald Henderson entered the NBA Draft. Andre only needed to take one class.  Dawkins first year in college was very up and down.  Andre was the backup guard for Scheyer and Smith.  He played pretty well early in the season.  In early December 2009, Dawkins’ sister died in a car accident.  After that accident he was not the same.  He struggled the rest of the year. Dawkins did have an important rule in the ACC Championship Game and in the Elite Eight game against Baylor. He did improve as a sophomore, but the Duke fans know what he is capable of.  He was one of Duke’s top options coming off of the bench.  Coach Collins said in an article, Dawkins needs to work on his conditioning like Redick did the summer going into his junior year at Duke.  Andre and Seth Curry attended the CP3 Elite Camp this summer to work on their games.  Former teammate Nolan Smith said he was planning on talking with Dawkins after last season.  Nolan and Andre have similar freshman and sophomore years each with obstacles to overcome.  Duke fans may remember how much Smith’s game improved as a junior.  If Dawkins has the breakout year that many Duke fans are expecting, Duke is another step toward being a legitimate contender.

Last year Irving and Smith ran the point.  With both gone, the search will begin for the point guard. Tyler Thornton and freshman Quinn Cook will compete for the job.  Thornton had some experience running the point, but was mainly used as the defensive stopper.  Quinn is a very good passer and ran the point at the Oak Hill Academy last year.  I would not be surprised if Seth Curry also competed.  Remember, his brother Stephen who went to Davidson switched over from the shooting guard to the point guard.  Seth is a scorer who is very smart with the ball.    Jon Scheyer switched over from the shooting guard to the point guard position a couple of years ago and that move really helped Duke.

The Duke frontcourt will be one year older and stronger.  Last year, the frontcourt was very young and was a little inconsistent.  With their entire frontcourt returning, plus the additions of Mike Gbinije, Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee, the youngest brother of Mason and Miles, they should improve a lot.  The development of the frontcourt is going to be a huge factor for Duke.  Critics say Duke’s frontcourt is often one of their weaknesses.   Mason improved his game a lot and became a good rebounder and shot blocker. One of his breakout games was against Marquette in the CBE Classic.  Mason and Miles will be attending the Amare Stoudemire camp to improve on his game and become more consistent. Plumlee will play an important role as the only senior on next year’s team.  Duke fans are hoping Plumlee pulls a Brian Zoubek and becomes defensive force inside the paint.  Miles has improved his game also, but like his brother, Mason is looking to be more consistent on both ends. Kelly has the most range out of the big men and is looking to get stronger and quicker.  Josh Hairston should get more playing time next year.  Josh reminds some Blue Devils fans of former Blue Devil, Lance Thomas.  Murphy, who like Dawkins came to Duke a year early, is looking to make an impact next year.  The coaching staff has compared Murphy to Mike Dunleavy.  Murphy’s older brother, Erik plays for the Florida Gators.  Mike Gbinije may play in both the backcourt and frontcourt.  He is a smart and underrated player who could surprise some people.  The frontcourt needs to improve and become more consistent if Duke wants to go far into the NCAA tournament next year.

Duke will not have as much pressure they had on them last year to repeat as National Champions.  Duke will be playing in Beijing this summer so they will get good experience and be more familiar with each other.   The Blue Devils may not have as many proven players, but they have many versatile players who are looking to make that extra leap like Brian Zoubek did, Gerald Henderson and Nolan Smith have the past few years.





0 Dave1234 2011-06-23 13:07 #1
Everything was right on.

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