Dissecting Duke (cont.)
Posted: Thursday February 21, 2008 11:47AM; Updated: Thursday February 21, 2008 3:14PM
The rate of pro success for Duke's McDonald's alums is significantly lower than that of all others during the same time period (see chart, below), which begs the question: Did Duke recruit these players because they were good enough to be McDonald's All-Americans, or did many of them become McDonald's All-Americans simply because Duke was recruiting them?
Much of this discrepancy can be attributed to a recent emphasis by Krzyzewski to recruit players more likely to remain in school for three or four years -- hence, why so many more of Duke's honorees are still in college. The unfortunate reality of today's climate, however, is that those type of players don't tend to have NBA-caliber talent. If they did, they, like Deng, would probably be gone sooner.
The last time Duke won a national title, in 2001, it did so with three current NBA starters (Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy) and a fourth, Jay Williams, who likely would be as well if not for his debilitating motorcycle accident.
There are, at most, two players on Duke's current roster that one can envision eventually approaching that level: Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler. (Freshmen Nolan Smith and Taylor King have potential as well, but both currently play limited minutes.) Guys such as DeMarcus Nelson, Greg Paulus and Jon Scheyer, while solid college players, fall far closer to a Ewing or Dockery than a Deng or Redick.
And yet, as always, this Duke team sits near the top of the rankings, alongside teams like Memphis, whose entire starting five could wind up in the NBA; North Carolina (at least three if you include the injured Ty Lawson); UCLA (three to four, including a potential All-Star, Kevin Love) and Kansas (at least three).
Taking all of the aforementioned data into account, it would seem the common theme among Duke's recent teams is that they spend most of the season playing above themselves. Krzyzewski certainly deserves credit for adapting each year to the personnel on hand and maximizing their talent, but eventually the gas runs out and/or they get exposed by more talented teams -- the very kind of teams they avoid playing early in the season.
Could this year be different? It's certainly possible. Much has been made of the fact that Duke is running a more wide-open, perimeter-oriented offense this season. The Blue Devils are also deeper than they have been in a while, a deficiency that often caught up to them during the Redick/Williams era.
Consecutive mid-February losses to Wake Forest and Miami are hardly an encouraging sign, however. If history is any indication, they're a harbinger of things to come.
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