Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
9/21/2006 03:34:00 AM
Checking The ID Of ... Duke
Greg Paulus has spent the offseason getting into better physical shape.
(This is the first in a series of looks at powerhouse teams from last season that will have all-new identities in 2006-07.)
OLD IDENTITY: The Blue Devils played a two-man game, either running a pick parade to free J.J. Redick on the perimeter or forcing the ball into the paint to Shelden Williams. That duo was drafted in the 2006 NBA lottery, and though the team spent much of the season ranked No. 1, Duke had a thin bench (a seven-man rotation) and lacked the athletes to stack up against a team such as LSU. It was no fluke the Tigers knocked the Devils out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16.
NEW IDENTITY: Ten of the Devils' 11 scholarship players are freshmen or sophomores, and they haven't experienced this kind of overhaul since 2002, when Redick and Williams entered as freshman. I turned to Blue Devils assistant Chris Collins to get a better idea of Duke-ball, version '06-07. Here are four clues:
• A lot is riding on Josh McRoberts' shoulders (and back). The 6-10 sophomore forward, who passed on the NBA Draft and recently had offseason back surgery, will, Collins said, "be our go-to guy." Duke considers McRoberts, point guard Greg Paulus and off-guard DeMarcus Nelson to be its big three, but McRoberts will need to be an interior presence in a space that Williams previously owned. "Josh is definitely our most talented player," said Collins. "Whether that means he's the leading scorer every night or not, he's still going to be the guy that makes everything go for us." McRoberts averaged 8.7 points per game and was often deferential to Williams last season; this year, there's no one else to yield to in the paint.
• This team may win fewer games than last year's squad, but it'll be far more athletic. That starts with the return of a healthy Nelson, but the biggest additions are two freshmen: 6-foot-5 Gerald Henderson and 6-9 Lance Thomas, both wing players who were five-star prospects. Collins said Henderson, from Merion, Pa., "gives us a powerful athlete that we've really lacked since we had Dahntay Jones." The coach said Thomas, from Newark, N.J., will be expected to contribute immediately on the front line. "He's very active player -- the kind of forward who is going to create a lot of mismatches," Collins said.
• The sleeper freshman is Brian Zoubek. The New Jersey 7-footer is the least-publicized recruit in a class that includes Henderson, Thomas and Jon Scheyer, but given Duke's size deficiency -- McRoberts and Thomas are its only other players over 6-7 -- Zoubek will get minutes out of necessity. "With Shelden gone, we need help manning the middle," Collins said, "and Brian is a true center with very good hands. He may surprise some people."
• Greg Paulus -- who played major minutes but had a high turnover rate -- will be in better shape to run the team. Collins said the second-year floor general took a cue from what J.J. Redick did the previous summer and got into prime cardiovascular condition. "The biggest jump J.J. made was getting into tip-top shape so he could run all day and wear down opponents," said Collins, "and Greg has taken on that same kind of regimen."
• There's talk around the Duke team that its athleticism will allow it to play more in transition this season. While the common perception is that the Blue Devils were a slow, half-court team in 2005-06, they actually ranked No. 29 in the country in adjusted tempo at 72.2 possessions per 40 minutes, according to kenpom.com. If they speed up by just one half of a possession per game, they'd surpass the pace at which North Carolina played last season (72.6 poss./40 min.). That's a strange thought.
• One reason to have confidence in McRoberts as the No. 1 offensive option: His freshman year scoring average was in single figures, but his personal offensive efficiency was higher than Shelden Williams' (117.3 to 117.2), as was his effective field-goal percentage (61.8 percent to 58.0). McRoberts' numbers may have benefited from freebees when defenses collapsed on the Landlord, but they do project well for future stardom. Readers, now it's your turn: Where do you think Duke should be ranked in the preseason? Fire off a response in the comments section.
They will certainly be a mor balanced team this year. While Thomas and Henderson will be important, I think the impact freshman will be Jon Scheyer who will fit nicely into Duke's system. Also, watch for Martynas Pocius, who is now a part of the Lithuanian Olympic Team, to have a breakot sophomore year and do big things for the Blue Devils...
if the youngsters from UNC provided the surprise for everyone last year, Duke's team will be the same (if not more) for this year.
all four freshmen will fill in holes that were missing/lacking from last year's team and with the natural maturation process of both josh mcroberts, greg paulus, and demarcus nelson, they will figure prominently in the ACC and in the NCAA tournament.
that being said, josh mcroberts will be the main man but the play of demarcus nelson will be deciding factor whether they will be an good team (i.e. making the NCAA tournament but bowing out in the 1st round) or a surpise team (i.e. George Mason from last year).
lastly, don't count out how much juice Coach K can bring out of this group.
The biggest difference for Duke this year will be missing Williams in the back on defense. McRoberts has not shown that he can play that role, especially because he expends more energy on offense. This seems like the sort of team likely to start out giving up too many easy baskets but improve as the year goes on, if the newcomers can play K's defensive schemes.
I certainly wouldn't mind Duke appearing on the cover of SI given the SI curse, but I believe they should be in the 20-25 range when the rankings come out. Also, the offense should be geared toward Nelson and not McRoberts. Nelson is as athletic a player in the ACC as anyone. I am still not sold on Paulus as a real basketball player. He does have the smugness of a Dukee though!
This is a transitional year for Duke. They will win far less games than last year, but as the season moves on they will find their identity and although may not be a powerhouse, could knock off any team in the country.
The big IF'S? Josh McRoberts must stay out of foul trouble. Paulus must control turnovers. Someone needs to step up and be a clutch 3-ball shooter for Duke to play its game.
Duke will be no powerhouse, and they will win far less games this year as they figure out their rotation. For Duke to do well this year they need three things to happen.
Josh must stay out of foul trouble in order to stay on the floor and help lead a young team. Greg must control his turnovers, and as Duke will be more athletic, the newbies will play to his style. Duke needs a clutch 3-ball shooter to make a run. Duke has relied on the 3-ball over the years in its offense, and will need some big time long ball shooters to give Duke the whole package.
I feel that the Blue Devils will be an exciting team to watch, and will continue to play their vintage in-your-face defense. Pocius will be a real sleeper this year, along with the return of McClure. They will surprise people this year, and always relish the underdog role!
starting five??? Paulus Henderson Nelson Thomas McRoberts
Subs?? Scheyer Zoubek Pocius
starting five could be considered for top ten pretty easily, the problem is the bench. Scheyer could be good, supposed to be a little more athletic than JJ. Zoubek and Pocius though, I don't know. I was never impressed with Pocius last year, and Zoubek looks like another Matt Christianson or whatever his name was a few years ago. I don't doubt coach K will make the best of what he's got, and they'll contend for the top couple spots of the ACC, but I see them losing some games this year they normally wouldn't.
Can Henderson shoot?, cause if he can't, you don't really have any pure shooter in the starting five, which will allow teams to bear down on McRoberts. Nelson and Paulus will make them on occasion, but no one to really spread the floor
history will repeat itself as duke initially overachieves in a "rebuilding" year. an early winning streak will lead to an undeservedly high ranking - top 5, maybe better. conference play will knock them down a few notches, back to top 10 territory. they will win the acc tournament as always, garner a 3 seed, and lose in the sweet 16. all in all not a bad year for a team with top-15 talent at best. if mcroberts stays another year they will be in good shape for next year.
I think Duke can be a serious contender, but one of the main things it must do is play a deep team. Last year it became a serious problem deep in the season that they would only play 2 bench-players. teams like LSU proved that a 7-man rotation wouldn't work. With Greg Paulus, Josh McRoberts, DeMarcus Nelson, Gerald Henderson, Brian Zoubek, Jon Scheyer, Martynas Pocius, Jamaal Boykin, Lance Thomas and David McClure they could arguably play a 10 man rotation.......I think what coach K does with the copious amount of talent he has will be the deciding factor.....
No one thought Florida would come up like they did last year with such a young team. And I'm not saying that this team will do the same, but I wouldn't put much stock in the early games as far as predicting how they will do later on. Young teams tend to peak near the end of seasons, and with a few lucky breaks in the tournament, or just an inspired run by the team, these guys could be something special. I can't help but feel that these guys look like the '91 team. And as to the guy who wonders how Duke will do against a loaded Tar Hole team, as someone standing in the second row in Cameron two years, I witnessed a "depleted" Duke beat UNC, and loved every damn minute of it.
As a Duke fan, I hate to say it, but coaching is the key. No dearth of talent on this roster. People talk about Pocious having a break-out year, and there's no question that he's a good offensive player, but will K play him? Don't think so. K doesn't like his defense, even though he will have more experience with K's system than Scheyer and the other frosh. Same with the highly touted 7 footer Zoubek. He's no big-man stiff, but the truth is, K prefers small ball. K is a great coach, but I think he's reached a crossroads where he needs to show a bit more flexibility. Lengthen the bench, for starters. And keep it long for the entire season, not just during the "experimental" first couple of months. And don't bench star offensive talents just because they're not quite 100% with the tough defensive system which K employs.
Prediction: will start out ranked 15, gradually move up, then fluctuate between 5 and 12 for most of the season. If Nelson and McRoberts are healthy, and if one of the wings steps up to be a 3 pt marksman (Scheyer or Pocious), and if Zoubek can get his minutes and be a factor down low, Paulus will have a monster season dishing out assists. Elite 8 finish, but this team could surprise.
The amount of talent/depth rarely matters in the Duke/UNC games, and it goes both ways. Two years ago a "depleted" Duke team beat the championship Tarheels. Last year, an even more depleted TarHeels beat Duke at Duke. When Coach K was out for a season with surgery problems, a seriously struggling Duke still took UNC to overtime in a great game. You can never really tell how good a team is by looking at that game, because both teams will usually play out of their minds.
Anyways, someone said it earlier, they'll be good at home like always, they'll lose some games on the road. I'd say about 6-7 losses. But I don't think they'll fall out of the top 20.
Whoever is saying Duke could have a ten man rotation is dreaming. I give them 7-8 at the most, just because I forget if McClure is any good.
I do think McRoberts will have a great year, and will challenge Hansbrough for ACC POY, especially since Hansbrough won't have to shoulder as much of the offense for UNC.
I say 15. All eyes will be on Florida this year instead of Duke. But of course anyone with Cable will get to see most of their games. They will probably take a while to figure out their ground which could make them unpredictable and more competitive come playoffs.
I think K learned the benefits of using a full rotation with the national team, and will use the same system in Durham this year.
They are young, but last year's recruiting class was ranked #1, and this year's #3. Duke is loaded with talent, and has the best coaching staff in the game.
This team will be ranked as high as third, will finish tied for first in the ACC regular season with UNC with 2 losses, has an excellent chance to win the ACC tourney. And if they gain confidence will make it to the final four.
I say do what they did with North Carolina last year - unranked until they prove themselves. Of course, with Duke the "proving themselves" bar will be set absurdly low by the media and they'll quickly make the top-15 on hype alone after blowing out some low-major opponents.
Duke's team will get better and better all year...rankings don't matter. They will win the ACC tournament and win on to the final four. This year's team will be better than last year. At the end of last year, when JJ was off the team lost. This year's team will have many options on offense. It should be fun to watch!
From a true DUKE fan, they should be ranked 10-12 preseason and we'll see where it goes from there. For all of you Tarhole fans, this is a DUKE article and your input is not needed. And to set one MAJOR misconception straight for the Tarhole fans, "Ole Roy" will never come close to the level that Coach K is on. Coach K will surpass your own Dean Smith and forever reign as the winningest coach in all of the NCAA. GO DUKE
not only will they miss JJ's shooting and scoring ability, they will miss his ability to lead vocally and by example. Someone must step up and show the younger guys what a duke player is all about. I have faith in my dukies!! i think they should be ranked 12.. because we are young but we are going to be good..
duke will be top 5...i don't know why everyone, coach K included, doesn't realize that pocius is/was a better bball player than redick....if they realize this and start pocius, they'll be top 5, if not, they'll be top 15
Carolina fans are so insecure. Even when they are supposed to be better on paper they make stupid degrading comments that are 99% meaningless as far as basketball is concerned. Duke has many questions coming in, but also alot of possible answers. It could be a special year, or a prelude to a superior team in '07.
Here's my prediction: consecutive losses to UNC in a reversal of the previous decade's trend of Duke domination of the ACC. This will evidence the decent of pre-Coach K retirement Duke into mediocrity, concurrent with Roy William's building of a tarheel-dominated ACC. Attrition of upperclassmen to the NBA, which Duke had primarily avoided until recent years, will now provide the ultimate test for Coach K: Can he consistently coach a team of freshmen & sophomore stars to national prominence as other coaches in Div. I basketball have?
The key to the season will be Coach K. K seemed to have an off year last years, never really figuring out how to maximize the play of the team that, at least at the top, was probably the most talented in the country. However, some of K's most impressive jobs have been in these "rebuilding" years. It will be interesting to see if anything rubbed off from hanging out with Jerry Colangelo and the NBA crowd, because athleticism is definitely a strength of the team if everyone stays healthy. In 2001 after Boozer went down and everyone said Duke was done and had no chance against UNC, the team played lightning fast and ran the Tar Heels off the floor in the Dean Dome and the ACC championship on the way to winning it all, and I think Duke could really benefit from that energized pace and adopt a sort of Phoenix Suns with more defense mentality. The team probably deserves to start off ranked around 10-15, but certainly has the potential to win it all if things come together (so do about 30 other teams in today's college basketball environment.
Coaching will also be the key for talented loaded UNC. Roy did a great job with an overachieving bunch last year, but will everything come together as well when he has to fit all the new pieces togetehr as a team?
I'm a huge Duke fan. I'd be crazy if I said that the pollsters should pick us #1, looking at what we lost, but I am a big-time Coach Krzyzewski fan and I totally agree with his coaching style and the way the guys love the brotherhood and trust and believe! I think we'll have another really fun season... Don't give up on the guys... Yes, we lost a great senior class, but these younger guys are ready! I LOVE DUKE!
However Duke is ranked it will not do as well against major deep teams at year's end as it should. Coach K just won't learn. Ironic, isn't it? He just can't seem to learn that not playing deep because the potential depth doesn't learn deep/well enough in practice is a recipe for post-season disaster (comparatively speaking, of course). The good thing is Daniel Ewing isn't around to watch JJ+K throw away games by not giving the ball to the wide open killer-Dan, and maybe K will spread the ball around w/o JJ on hand to throw the game away late.
I'm a HUGE Duke fan and I think this will be a pretty successful season. Duke plays its first 15 games either at home or at a neutral site, by then this young team should be on a nice winning streak and should have some confidence. They're young so I dont expect them to win as many as last year but they will be fun to watch.
I really think that DUKE is going to be one of the sleepers this year. Everyone is saying without Reddick and Williams we will fail. I beg to differ. The coaching staff at Duke will utilize the young athletic team they have and will make a good run well into the tournament. Go DUKE!
Duke will be ranked 12 to 14 preseason but will get better as the year goes on. They'll be primed by March, set your watch by it. For the first time in ages, Coach K will actually be the underdog and he thrives on the challenge. Look out UNC, you'll be lucky to split with the devils given your history in games versus Duke when favored. It should be fun!
this story is nice and all but dook basketball will never be on the level of UNC. I cant think of one good NBA pro from dook ever. compare that to michael jordan, vince carter, jerry stackhouse, rasheed wallace, rick fox, james worthy, antawn jamison and many other future stars, including our freshman this year
Demarcus Nelson will play a huge role. He's definitely the most athletic player for a 6'3" (remember him dunking in the early season, and also scoring 16 or so points agaisnt UNC?) McRoberts can definitely score, but needs to learn to block better and stay out of fould trouble. Against unc he scored 12 points in four minutes! Foul trouble was the only thing that stopped him then. The freshman class brings a little of everything, and add in last year's class as well as McClure and this Duke team will actually be more athletic, and have more size than last year. unc will meanwhile be fighting over playing time with a star cast that could doom them like Duke in '99
Duke will struggle early at times while trying finding an indentity. This Duke team is extremely athletic but they do drop off in perimeter shooting, it will be up to Scheyer, Paulus and Potuis to make up for that. When it's all said and done I expect an elite 8 finish and possibly a final 4 run.
Who's the backup point guard?, what happens if Paulus goes down for a few games. I don't consider him on of the best PG's in the nation, but he's a solid player who will distribute the ball and run K's offense well and defense well. So who's gonna take his place or give him a breather?, Pocius?
Once again a member of the media has given Dook and Coach K an excuse for underperforming. Saying that last season: "Duke had a thin bench (a seven-man rotation)" is a complete load of crap. They had more talent at 6 - 10 then almost anyone in the ocuntry, but Coach K. opted for a short rotation and never developed the game experience of younger guys in blowout games where he played JJ for 39 minutes despite a 20 point cushion. That COACHING decision was the reason JJ got tired down the stretch and Dook couldn't handle the athleticism of LSU - not a lack of talent or players.
I still think McRoberts is very overhyped. He has a world of talent but basically got points off of Shelden Williams' sloppy seconds. When he played the center position during moments when Williams was out of the game last season, he was rarely a factor at all. He simply doesn't seem to want the ball at critical times in the game ala Tyler. I agree Duke will be more athletic, but I don't think they have guys that can create their own scoring as the clock winds down. That will leave them a 15-20 team in the country at best.
Like every year it'll be deemed "Coach K's best coaching job ever."
They can't hold a candle to Florida and their neighbors down the road (UNC) are stacked and will run them out of the gym.....
Duke will be good. They are always good. But they won't contend. The only real question is whether Coach K will finish the year or bail on his tema like he did a few years back, falling prey to another phantom back ailment....
Based on talent, Duke should be ranked between 12-15. As a very young team, they will be inconsistent early in the season. But if Henderson and Thomas mature, they will be solid top ten by the end of the year. And as Florida demonstrated last year, anything can happen at that point.
Duke will start the season ranked top-15, will contend for the ACC regular season and tourney title and make it to at least the sweet-16.
I predict they will a better and more balanced team than a year ago, come NCAA tourney-time, even though they will win less games in the regular season.
McRoberts will be NPOY candidate and Paulus will be a great floor leader that will distribute the rock to everybody. With a healthy Demarcus Nelson and skywalker Henderson and a deep team, sky is the limit. FF, national title? Why not? Didn't Florida come out of nowhere to win last season?
I cant see how this Duke team is getting so much hype. The only reason McRoberts was halfway decent last season was because he shared the middle with Sheldon, resulting in all easy dunks for his points. Also, Paulus is an absolute nothing on the court, his only job last year was to distribute, and he didnt even do that well. This year will be a nightmare for him without Reddick bailing him out. This Duke team is not going to be fun to watch because they're gonna lose a lot of game. I can see them finishing behind Boston College, UNC, and maybe either a Florida State or Maryland.
Duke has some major issues to deal with this season.
1. No backup PG. There isn't one PG on the roster besides Paulus. Nelson may have PG size but his handles are awful. That means they will have to convert a pure SG like Scheyer or Pocious into a PG, or play Paulus 40 mins a game. Paulus is already a poor defender and is at risk of foul trouble against the PG's like Singletary, Lawson, Crittendon, and Ish Smith. If Paulus gets tired or in foul trouble, Duke will have no one to run the show for them.
2. Little post depth. Let's face it, Coach K hasn't played a true Center in a decade. He brings in the true Centers (Burgess, Sanders, Thompson, Boateng) but he always plays the PF's he recruits at the 5 (Brand, Boozer, Shelden, Shav) and the true Centers ride pine. So we all know a 7-footer like Zoubek will see little or no PT, while McRoberts tries to man the 5 for 35 mins a game. So McRoberts is going to try and take his slim frame and back problem, and bang with the Centers all season long? He's going to get banged up pretty bad doing that. Once again we find that foul trouble, exhaustion, or an injury is all that stands between Duke and getting creamed at this position.
It's always funny to me, how much time all you duke haters spend reading OUR news reports. Do you guys not get any off season reporting?! Oh and mcroberts will turn some heads this year now that his big shadow has been removed. Fun match ups between him and ol' hans...
I think Duke will be top 3 in the ACC and around top 10 this year. With a more expierenced point guard in Paulis who will have plent of talented athletes to pass to and the presence of McRoberts down low Duke will have the ability to beat anyone on any given night
By years end duke will be a top five team in the country and will be a team that can beat anybody in the tournament. This is a young team but this year they are much deeper and have more weapons to choose from. They will defend well because they do have size in McRoberts, Zoubek and Thomas. Out in the perimeter look for henderson and nelson to lock people up, especially henderson, this kid will be special at Duke. Paulus will run the team like a true point guard this year, he is ready for primetime. I expect Duke to go very deep in the tournament unlike other people, not just because they are talented but because of the group of coaches that are on that sideline. Some people mistake youth for a lack of experience, these are a talented group of youngsters that will shock a lot of people this year with how much knowledge of the game they have.
Think we will see more hack-a-Shaq style defense from Coach K when his players can't handle the athleticism of other ACC teams - remember when Coach K. sent Patrick Davidson into the game to mug Chris Paul in 2005? Class act.
The fear in the posts of all these Duke haters is palpable - especially during a "rebuilding" year. I don't expect a dominant Duke team, but it will be an exciting team, and they should play more as a team w/o its 2 superstars.
As a Duke fan, I pretty much agree with the theme of "reloading", but I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen with Pocius and Boykin. Pocius has some sweet moves and a sweet shot, and I love Boykin's tenacity. With one year under his belt, he should be a little calmer to where he can make plays and hopefully bring that radiating energy back to the floor.
Duke will be ranked 10-12 at the beginning of the year. Early in the season, they could stay there or move up if they have success.
Being such a young team, they could drop down to 15 or so, but by the end of the year should be back to near the top 10 as they improve their play.
I suspect they will get a #3 or #4 seed. And, will surprise a bit in the tourney going to the elite 8.
However, if McRoberts does not go pro after this year and returns for his junior year, Duke will have phenomenal depth in 07-08 and will be a top 5 team (along with UNC also). This is especially true if they ink Kyle Singler from Oregon, to go with a couple of other solid freshmen coming in.
I think this Duke team will be better than some people are saying, but as far as being an athletic team, that is a joke. they will be more athletic than last year, but compared to teams like georgia tech, Florida st, and esp North carolina, they will be much less athletic. despite some upgrade, they still have paulus at the point, who can not guard half the point gurads in the acc, and schyer who isnt a horrible athlete, but certainly not anything compared to the wings carolina can throw out there. they will be well coached, played hard and smart, and win 20-25 games, but if they think they can compete with carolina, they are sadly mistaken.
12-15 rank is accurate. And, even as a Duke fan, so is the comments of Duke getting over-hyped press. Opposing coaches (good ones) don't mind that and neither should opposing fans. The key truly is "how much did K learn from the Team USA experience?" Did he learn to try zone from Syracuse Jim? Will he really incorporate new rotation schemes like he claims? etc. McRoberts did have recent back surgury (#2). This will be a factor I'm afraid playing the 5 spot. So will the reliance on Greg at the 1. However, let's remeber strategy of play: playing a "run and gun" game will favor both player's styles MUCH better than last year. Plus Greg has made it a focus to be in better shape, as will Josh (back was reason for his fatigue last year). As for guards, hopefully K has learn to trust Marty more from intll ball. And anyone watching the McDonald's game should be impressed by Schyer's assist talents; he can play point if need be but a bit more of a combo lad. Anyway, I agree its a 16 or 8 finish with a sweet setup for next year (Josh will stay if/when Kyle and even Patrick join the squad). Why? make room in the banner section.
I love how TarHoles be blowing up Hansbrough like he's the second coming. Sure, he scored like 20 a game. But when you shoot 19 free throws because you're weak in the middle and draw a lot of weak fouls, you're gonna score a lot of points. All you can really say that is good about Hansbrough is he shoots a high percentage from the FT line. Whooopeee!
I saw Duke splits with UNC this year due to their talent pool. If anybody get POY between McRoberts and Hansbrough, it should be McRoberts.
Duke will do fine, as usual,, this should be a fun year as in many many years past they were EXPECTED to win, and their winning was a relief rather than real "fun." Now they are a new bunch and fresh faces and it will be fun to watch. And don't be so hard on the tarheel fans...their tradition is long gone and taken over by Duke, so go easy on them.
Face it - Duke will be overrated and undercoached again this year. Coach K. can't develop Big Men (see Shavlik, Deng, and Boozer for recent examples) and so McRoberts will undoubtedly underperform and get frustrated. I hope he gets some sense and gets out of Durham before he wastes any more of his development years (Wojo the big man coach??!?!) It will be fun to watch the most overrated coach of all time get beat over and over and over this year. Maybe he'll have another operation this year to cleanse his record.
oh and don't forget, the ACC brings in more money than about any league. Take a wild guess who is responsible the the majority of that. So before you acuse Duke of getting too much press, remember they help pay for your kids books.
Duke will be a Top 10 team. People are so consumed with UNC's excellent freshmen class that they forget that Duke brought in 4 Top 30 players themselves. Add them to 3 vets and Coach K and that spells success. I'm not saying that they beat UNC necessarily, but the Blue Devils will be rollin along this year like usual. Sleeper of the year is center Brian Zoubek, who should start and do very, very well. Great hands & great rebounder.....
As good as McRoberts is, and will be eventually. He's not the typical Duke big man in the middle. Players like Brand and Boozer worked well because they were bigger, pure post players that can bang if needed. McRoberts is a lot more athletic and mobile than any of those guys in college. He seems to be similar to Shavlik. Hopefully K won't try to make him bulk up and gain weight like he did for Shav, which caused him to have an injury ridden college career. (Is this back issue just the start of it?)
Look at what Brand has done in the NBA to become dominant. He's slimmed down tremendously it looks like, gotten a lot better with his more finesse post moves and added a descent short range jumper and hook. Bottom line is, that wasn't the way coach K had him playing.
McRoberts can't be the big banging postman Duke is used to (Brand, Boozer, Williams), and I don't think Zoubek is good enough to fill that slot, at least not this year.
i completely agree with your comments about McRoberts. As for clarification, the back problem is preexisting since high school, which may force him to go for the NBA bucks early. Zoubeck is gong to be very good, but not until he owns the 5 spot. If K can stay away from half-court offense and truly go "run n' gun" McRoberts will become McNasty all season long. Just pray he stays one more year when/if Kyle Singler comes to town. All over with baby.
Who cares what Duke is ranked in the preseason? What matters happens on the court.The coaching staff has the ability to bring out the best in the Duke player.They should be a good solid contender this year. If you Tarheel fans Duke is so bad and your team is so great,what are so worried about? Insecurity is so becoming to you UNC fans.Get your excuses ready. Lisa