#1 Duke: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 Atlantic Coast Conference
2009-10: 35-5, 13-3
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (795-220 at Duke, 868-279 overall)
After leading Duke to an NCAA Championship, Kyle Singler is back to try it again. There are a few new faces, but with Singler back after averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds, it is difficult to find another team who should be favored to cut down the nets in early April. Singler is a superb all-around scorer and with his 6-8, 230 pound frame, he is nearly impossible for most opponents to guard both inside and out.
Key Losses: G Jon Scheyer, F Lance Thomas, C Brian Zoubek
Kyrie Irving may be the best freshman point guard in the nation. His addition, along with fellow freshman Tyler Thornton, will finally give the Blue Devils some depth on the perimeter. With the new found depth, especially from players like Irving and Thornton who can handle the ball, Duke will press more and push the ball up the floor more often. Irving may not even crack the starting lineup right away, but he will be on the floor quite a bit. Josh Hairston is a solid 6-8, 210 pound forward who will be asked to play some minutes up front. He may not be spectacular as a freshman, but he will add some quality depth.
Nolan Smith is still the star on the perimeter despite the addition of Irving and transfer Seth Curry. Smith is now the senior leader of this team and he will probably be on the floor about 35 minutes per game. Coming off a junior campaign in which he averaged 17.4 points and 3.0 assists, there is little doubt that Smith is ready to take over. Surely Jon Scheyer will be missed, but Smith can be the star of the backcourt and there are plenty of options to help replace Scheyer. Andre Dawkins is one of those options, although he will have trouble finding too many more minutes with the influx of talent on the perimeter. However, Dawkins proved to be a fine shooter during his freshman campaign and he could provide a nice spark off of the bench.
Losing Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek may be a cause of concern, but Duke should simply reload with the return of Miles and Mason Plumlee. Miles started 24 contests last season and averaged 5.2 points and 4.9 rebounds. He was pretty much a roleplayer last year, but certainly has the ability to step into a starting role and increase his production. This was not a team that lost an interior scorer, so if Miles can average eight points per game, it would give the Blue Devils a legitimate interior scoring threat that they did not have last year. Mason played less than his brother during his sophomore campaign, but he is a solid shot blocker and rebounder and that is all this team needs him to be. Ryan Kelly was a highly touted recruit last year, but was stuck behind all of the talent in front of him. Now he will be given the opportunity to come in off of the bench and be a major contributor.
Who to Watch:
Two years ago Curry led all freshmen in scoring with 20.2 points per game. Sure, that was at Liberty against inferior competition compared to the ACC, but all college basketball fans know that they should never underestimate a Curry. The 6-2 sophomore is a fabulous outside shooter who can also attack the basket and finish in the paint. If Duke is looking for somebody to replace Scheyer’s outside shooting, they need not look any further than Curry.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s way of recruiting players who generally stick around for more than a year paid off last season. It should pay off again this year with a healthy mix of experienced veterans and talented newcomers. With Smith and Singler leading the way, this team has to compete for an ACC title. With Curry and the newcomers adding depth on the perimeter and the Plumlee’s ready to step up in the post, Duke has their eye on another NCAA title.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Nolan Smith, Senior, Guard, 17.4 ppg
Seth Curry, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Kyle Singler, Senior, Forward, 17.7 ppg
Miles Plumlee, Junior, Forward, 5.2 ppg
Mason Plumlee, Sophomore, Forward, 3.7 ppg
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