Key Losses: G Daniel Ewing (15.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.0 apg), F Shavlik Randolph (4.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated Delaware State 57–46, defeated Mississippi State 63–55, lost to Michigan State 78–68 in the regional semifinals
London, England/St. Andrews (DE) School
Los Angeles, CA/Fairfax
Melbourne, AR/Blair (NJ) Academy
Syracuse, NY/Christian Brothers
Vilnius, Lithuania/Holderness (NH)
Most schools are happy with one McDonald's All-American. Duke added three -- McRoberts, Paulus and Boateng. McRoberts is considered the best of the group -- and in the country -- with his ability to play both the post and the perimeter. Paulus, a point guard, is expected to play right away and has been praised by Mike Krzyzewski for his passing. Boykin, a 6-foot-7 wing, and Pocius, a 6-4 Lithuanian shooting guard, were both signed for future contributions.
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This year's Final Four is in Indianapolis, the same site where the Blue Devils' coach won his first national title back in 1991. Actually, throw in two NCAA titles in Minneapolis (1992 and 2001) and all three of Coach K's titles have come under the lucky "-apolis" suffix.
Coach K's not worried about such celestial signs this season, not with the stacked lineup he'll trot out for his 26th season in Durham. The Blue Devils, surprise ACC Tournament champs in 2005, return two All-Americans and for good measure have added the country's best recruiting class, including Josh McRoberts, the top-rated recruit.
No wonder Krzyzewski says the site of the Final Four doesn't matter.
"I think we're going to be a very good basketball team," Krzyzewski says. "If we stay healthy, we should be competitive."
Shelden Williams defied post-play logic last season. His scoring (15.5), rebounding (11.2), blocked shots and minutes played all went up, but his fouls went down. There were several stretches of the season when Williams essentially played a one-man zone and played it to perfection, blocking a league-best 122 shots.
With injuries and the ineffective play of forward Shavlik Randolph, Williams had no relief in 2005. He figures to get help this season with the addition of freshmen McRoberts and Eric Boateng, both McDonald's All-Americans.
McRoberts enters Duke with a long list of credentials and a chance to make an immediate impact. Randolph left the program in pursuit of a professional career, leaving minutes and post responsibilities to McRoberts.
Boateng, who has only played basketball for four years, will also be needed to spell Williams, who averaged 33.6 minutes per game.
"Shelden, especially his shot-blocking, really saved the day for us last year," Krzyzewski says. "I think [he] has a chance of having a higher performance with a little less [playing] time."
J.J. Redick improved so much as a junior he'll have a hard time making the same leap as a senior. The 6-4 shooting guard led the ACC in scoring, with an average of 21.8 points per game, and in a testament to his improved conditioning, led the ACC in minutes played, with 37.3 per game.
Redick shed between 15 and 20 pounds between his sophomore and junior seasons to prepare for his increased work load. He proved he could handle the new responsibility by expanding his game, from merely a 3-point specialist to an improved defender and a player capable of creating his own shot. While Williams handled the post nearly single-handedly, Redick performed similarly on the outside. His epic shooting performances against Wake Forest (38 points) and NC State (35) propelled him to ACC Player of the Year honors.
Like Williams, Redick will have more help this season. While Daniel Ewing, a second-round NBA pick, is gone, senior guard Sean Dockery returns as does sophomore wing DeMarcus Nelson. Dockery, a defensive specialist, and Nelson, a pure scorer, will both be aided by the addition of freshman point guard Greg Paulus. A high school All-America in football and basketball, Paulus gives Duke a true, pass-first point guard.
As difficult as it was for Duke to lose before the Final Four and to have to watch rival North Carolina win the national title, the Blue Devils realize what a season they had in 2004-05. They won 27 games, the ACC Tournament title and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- not bad for a team picked to finish fourth in its own league.
With Redick, Williams and a veteran cast to lead a talented freshman class, Duke will likely be the preseason ACC favorite and open the season as the No. 1-ranked team in the country. The question for Coach K: Can he mold this group into his fourth championship team? Duke fans couldn't ask for a better scenario.