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Duke Blue Devils (Last Year: 27-5, 14-4 in ACC)
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
F/C: Amile Jefferson (Soph)/Josh Hairston (Sr)/Marshall Plumlee (Soph)
F: Jabari Parker (Fr)/Alex Murphy (Soph)
SF: Rodney Hood (Soph)/Semi Ojeleye (Fr)
SG: Rasheed Sulaimon (Soph)/Andre Dawkins (Sr)/Matt Jones (Fr)
PG: Quinn Cook (Jr)/Tyler Thornton (Sr)
Gone: C-Mason Plumlee, G-Seth Curry, PF-Ryan Kelly
The Duke Blue Devils lose three starters from a year ago, but in typical program fashion, Mike Krzyzewski returns with a loaded roster; this tim led by highly recruited forward Jabari Parker. The big difference from this season’s Blue Devils’ squad as opposed to years past is that there isn’t a whole lot of size inside.
As a result, Duke figures to use more of a three-forward starting lineup that lacks a true big man. Parker is one of the top freshmen in the country for a good reason. He can do a little bit of everything on the floor offensively whether it’s attacking the rim or shooting it from the outside. Duke needs him to play bigger this season and he must be a factor on the glass as well.
Parker will be joined by Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and Amille Jefferson. Jefferson assumes the role of the starting center even though he is more of a combo forward. Having the responsibility of guarding opposing teams’ big men will be a huge transition for him though. Hood is a smooth, athletic lefty who adds even more versatility to the floor since he can play either forward spot. During his freshman season with the Bulldogs, he averaged about 10 points and five rebounds per game and creates a dangerous 1-2 scoring punch along with Parker.
The only real size and physicality inside comes off the bench from Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee. Hairston is an undersized power forward who brings energy and toughness to the floor, but is limited in most other areas of his game. The youngest Plumlee brother redshirted last season and is only true center on the roster. He will be thrust into action because of his size but is still a fairly raw product with his all-around game.
Alex Murphy and Semi Ojeleye add even more depth and versatility at forward. Murphy is more of a faceup forward who could find minutes hard to come by. Due to Ojeleye’s athleticism and strength, Krzyzewski may have no other choice than to work him into the rotation. His aggressiveness on the boards is needed and is a area of huge concern for the Blue Devils.
Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon are the two returning starters for Duke. Cook made tremendous strides as a true floor general during his sophomore campaign, while Sulaimon slides over to his more natural shooting guard position after technically starting at the three last year. Both guys are dangerous outside shooters who carry more responsibility into the season now that Seth Curry has moved on.
Duke has solid depth at guard led by senior Tyler Thornton, who has been a steady role player since arriving on campus. Andre Dawkins is back after redshirting last season and brings some scoring punch off the bench. The same too is true of freshman Matt Jones, who is a sniper from downtown and seems more than ready to somehow factor into the rotation at the crowded guard position.
Krzyzewski has a talented and deep collection of guards and versatile forwards, but the end result of this season will be determined by how the Duke Blue Devils are able to rebound and defend bigger teams inside. On the flip side of that, the Blue Devils themselves will be a tough team to guard because of all their weapons on offense.
Player to Watch: Jabari Parker, F
There isn’t a whole lot of weakness in Parker’s game, and on top of that, he is a humble young man who is hungry to become even better. He is a legitimate ACC Player of the Year candidate and will be one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft IF he turns pro (I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he stays for his sophomore year … he just seems like that kind of kid.)
Key Non-Conference Games:
Predicted ACC Finish: 1st
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