2009-2010 Duke Blue Devils Basketball Preview
In the past five seasons, coach Mike Krzyzewski has continued to guide the Duke Blue Devils (30- 7 overall, 11-5 ACC) to the Big Dance, getting them to the Sweet 16 three times. In 2008- 2009, after finishing second in the conference, Duke lost to Villanova 54- 77 in the regional semifinals. This year, they may find it difficult getting out of round two.
Duke’s defense allowed just 65.9 PPG last season, ranking them second in the ACC. Within the conference, they were fairly average, putting up 77.4 PPG (4th), hitting field goals at the rate of 44% (5th), threes at 35% (5th) and frees at 73% (5th). This season, the Blue Devils will be especially short in the backcourt, having lost Gerald Henderson, Elliot Williams and Greg Paulus.
Duke sees two McDonald’s All-Americans join their frontcourt: forwards Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee. Both are six-foot-ten, over 200 pounds and possess refined perimeter skills, but Coach K will ask them to play the post where they’re much needed. Junior forward Kyle Singler (16.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.4 APG), who stands six-eight, will finally get the chance to exploit the perimeter. He offers fine ball handling and shooting chops. Seven-foot-one center Brian Zoubek (4.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.4 APG) needs to raise his game to a higher level in order to become a consistent force on the court. Miles Plumlee (1.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.0 APG), Mason’s older brother, has the potential to provide quality minutes.
The backcourt includes the fine talents of point man Jon Scheyer (14.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.8 APG). Scheyer, a transformed shooting guard, is a skilled and smart player with dependable hands who ably gets the job done. Junior Nolan Smith (8.4 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.7 APG), the other experienced presence in the guard spot, can push the ball up the court and score. Three first year guards join the Devils with Andre Dawkins being the best of the group.
For Duke to have a chance at the national title, someone must step up in the frontcourt and become a major point producer. Additionally, the backcourt is exceptionally thin. One injury to a guard will transform this team from contender to pretender. True, you’ll see five McDonald’s All-Americans on the court and another coming off the bench. Still, that doesn’t seem to be enough to get this team any higher than a third place finish in the ACC and any further than round two of the NCAA Tournament.