There are a number of interesting (and critical) story lines for Duke this year: the immensely versatile roster and what do with it. The return of Andre Dawkins. The development of Jabari Parker. And perhaps most intriguingly, just how good is transfer Rodney Hood?
Word began to leak out last year that he was better than people thought, and by the time the season ended, several players had identified him as the best player on the team.
What most of us couldn't see is what happened to him when he became part of an elite program.
During his year at Mississippi State, he was forced to deal with the circus surrounding Renardo Sidney, which peaked when Sidney got into a fight with teammate Elgin Bailey while in the stands at Maui.
At Duke, he was exposed to the work habits of seniors Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee. Hood said that for him to watch the game from the bench was a huge benefit.
Coach K is looking to apply some of the Olympic lessons to this team, and Hood could be a key part of that. He steps into a role like that of Kevin Durant, a versatile guy who can shoot, drive, pass and defend (Parker shares those qualities too).
With a high tide of athleticism, Duke has a chance to do some extraordinary things this year and Hood has a chance to be much more critical to his team's success than he was at Mississippi State.