ACC Team Breakdown: Duke

Duke Hopes For A Happier Ending This Season - Streeter Lecka

Duke Will Again Challenge For ACC Supremacy

Jim Gober has a real passion for ACC basketball and has been doing his own e-mail analysis for years. He offered us a lot of his insights for publication, so we're posting them periodically. Here's his look at #1 Duke.

2013-2014 Outlook: Led by its three senior graduates, Duke had a tremendous season last year in which its record was 30-6 and the Blue Devils were ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in the Associated Press (AP) Poll each and every consecutive week from the preseason through the final poll. If Duke is as good as expected, the Blue Devils will have the opportunity to extend their streak of 117 consecutive weeks ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in the AP Poll that is 2nd only to the record 155 straight weeks set by Coach John Wooden’s UCLA teams 40 years ago.

6-10 Sr PF/C Mason Plumlee (17.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 59.9 FG%) was a consensus 2nd Team All-American, and 6-2 Sr WG Seth Curry (17.5 ppg, 43.8 3s%, 2.7 3s/g) received some All-American recognition as well despite having to play through an injury. Both Plumlee and Curry were selected 1st Team All-ACC by at least one of the two recognized voting groups, the ACC Coaches and the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). 6-11 Sr PF Ryan Kelly (12.9 ppg, 1.6 bpg, 42.2 3s%, 1.5 3s/g) spent most of the season on the sidelines with a foot injury, but he led Duke past ACC Champion Miami with one of the best shooting and scoring performances in Cameron Indoor Stadium history. Plumlee was the #22 pick in the 1st round of the NBA Draft and will play for the Brooklyn Nets. The Los Angeles Lakers took Kelly in the 2nd round as the #48 pick, and the Golden State Warriors will give Curry a shot at joining his brother’s team.

It is difficult to imagine that the Blue Devils will be even better this season without those 3 players, but the vast majority of college basketball analysts think that will be the case. Certainly, Duke will have a superior backcourt led by its returning starters, 6-2 Jr PG Quinn Cook (11.7 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.4 a/to, 39.3 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 87.7 FT%), a 3rd Team ACSMA All-ACC selection, and 6-4 So WG Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 ppg, 37.1 3s%, 1.4 3s/g, 80.2 FT%), who was voted a member of the All-ACC Freshman Team. Somewhat surprisingly, Coach K announced once the team began practicing that neither Cook nor Sulaimon was guaranteed a starting position but that 3 other players definitely were. Ultimately, Cook and Sulaimon are the likely starters to join those 3 locks.

Joining Cook and Sulaimon in the backcourt is 6-5 Grad Student WG Andre Dawkins (8.4 ppg, 39.2 3s%, 2.0 3s/g), who took a redshirt last season and stepped away from organized basketball to deal with grief associated with a death in his family, and 6-2 Sr PG Tyler Thornton (3.6 ppg, 2.1 a/to, 39.2 3s%), who provides toughness, leadership and defense. Thornton will support Cook at point guard, and Dawkins will provide firepower off the bench. 6-4 Fr WG Matt Jones, the RSCI consensus #34 recruit in the nation and a 4 star prospect, adds another highly accurate long-range shooter for the Blue Devils. In terms of his opportunity to see playing time as a freshman, Jones has been described by teammates and Coach K as a superior defender with an advanced understanding of how to guard players on the perimeter.

As good as Duke may be in the backcourt, it should be even stronger at the forward positions. The main reason that the Blue Devils are regarded so highly after losing so much talent is the arrival of 6-8 Fr WF/PF Jabari Parker, a 5 star phenom who is ranked as the RSCI consensus #3 recruit in the nation. Parker is described as one of the best players to come out of high school basketball in recent years. The other reason is that 6-8 So WF/WG Rodney Hood, a transfer from Mississippi State who took a redshirt last season, reportedly was as good as any player on the Duke roster last season during practices. Without having played their first ACC game, Parker and Hood were selected by the ACC Coaches as members of the five-player preseason All-ACC First Team.

The combination of Parker and Hood may be the best in the nation at the forward positions. To make Duke even stronger in terms of its options at forward, the Blue Devils added 6-7 Fr WF Semilore Ojeleye, the #32 recruit in the nation and, perhaps surprisingly to some, the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year. Ojeleye set the all-time record for most points scored in a season and a career by a high school player from the State of Kansas. He also was his class valedictorian with a perfect grade point average. In early season drills, Ojeleye displayed phenomenal leaping ability. He also has impressive strength that will help him compete at the college level without the need for further physical development.

Before Coach K made his announcement about there being 3 certain starters, Parker, Hood, Sulaimon and Cook appeared to be almost certain to start. The question at Duke was who would be the 5th starter. 6-8 Sr PF Josh Hairston (2.6 ppg) and 6-9 So PF Amile Jefferson (4.0 ppg, 54.3 FG%) became the most accomplished returning frontcourt players following the departure of Mason Plumlee and Kelly and the arrival of Parker and Hood. 6-9 WF Alex Murphy (2.1 ppg, 49.1 FG%) and 7-0 So C Marshall Plumlee (2.6 mpg) have been mentioned as other options to give Duke some size and height in the lineup, but neither saw significant playing time as freshmen. Coach K solved the mystery when he announced that Jefferson was the third sure frontcourt starter besides his best players, Cook and Parker.

As frequently is the case for Duke, the Blue Devils could have chosen to use one of their talented perimeter players as the 5th starter, Dawkins, Thornton or Jones, and gone with a small and extremely athletic lineup. As always, however, Coach K plays his best players and does not worry about finding a player to fit each traditional position. Once Jefferson gained 20 pounds over the summer without affecting his athleticism, he emerged as the final piece of the starter puzzle. Apparently, Coach K concluded that his best lineup would include 3 extremely athletic, versatile and talented forwards who can complement each other on offense and provide collective rebounding and defense. Even with Mason Plumlee averaging double-digit rebounds, the greatest Duke weakness last season was being out-rebounded by opponents by 1.1 rebounds per game.

The Blue Devils will have extreme talent at all positions, but they will play without a true center and they lack the bulk some teams prefer inside. Some observers may contend that the lack of frontcourt size and established inside talent may limit Duke’s potential to some extent. Their argument is that the Blue Devils could find it difficult to compete in the paint against teams with frontcourt players who have superior size and bulk. As a counterbalance, Duke will present serious matchup problems for those teams that cannot guard Parker and Hood when they step outside to hit shots from long range or use their athleticism to drive to the basket and get to the foul line. Duke has so much basketball talent overall that it is ranks among the top teams in the nation (#4) and should challenge for the national title against the other 10 teams ranked in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll among the top 11 teams in the nation, #1 Kentucky, #2 Michigan State, #3 Louisville, #5 Arizona, #6 Kansas, #7 Syracuse, #8 Florida, #9 Michigan, #10 Ohio State, and #11 North Carolina.

2012-2013 Starters Lost (3):

6-10 Sr PF/C Mason Plumlee (17.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.7 a/to, 1.5 bpg, 1.0 spg, 59.9 FG%, 68.1 FT%, 4.8 ft/g, 34.7 mpg) (Consensus 2nd Team All-American) (2nd Team AP, USBWA and NABC All-American) (1st Team All-ACC) (ACC Coaches All-ACC Defensive Team) (All-ACC Academic Team) (NBA Draft, 1st Round, #22 Pick, Brooklyn Nets); 6-2 Sr WG Seth Curry (17.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 a/to, 0.2 bpg, 0.9 spg, 46.5 FG%, 43.8 3s%, 2.7 3s/g, 80.9 FT%, 3.5 ft/g, 32.3 mpg) (ACC Coaches 1st Team All-ACC) (ACSMA 2nd Team All-ACC) (2nd Team TSN All-American) (Signed free agent deal with Golden State Warriors); 6-11 Sr PF Ryan Kelly (12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 a/to, 1.6 bpg, 0.7 spg, 45.3 FG%, 42.2 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 81.2 FT%, 3.0 ft/g, 28.9 mpg) (All-ACC Academic Team) (NBA Draft, 2nd Round, #48 Pick, Los Angeles Lakers)

2013-2014 Returning Starters (2):

6-2 Jr PG Quinn Cook (11.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.4 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 1.4 spg, 41.6 FG%, 39.3 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 87.7 FT%, 1.8 ft/g, 33.6 mpg) (ACSMA 3rd Team All-ACC); 6-4 So WG Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.5 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 0.8 spg, 42.4 FG%, 37.1 3s%, 1.4 3s/g, 80.2 FT%, 2.6 ft/g, 29.2 mpg) (All-ACC Freshman Team) (All-ACC Academic Team)

2013-2014 Other Key Players:

6-8 Fr WF/PF Jabari Parker (RSCI Consensus #3 Recruit) (ESPN: #2 Recruit, 96 Rating, #2 Wing Forward Prospect, 5 Star Recruit); 6-8 So WF/WG Rodney Hood (transfer from Mississippi State) (2011-2012 Stats at Mississippi State; 10.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.1 a/to, 0.4 bpg, 0.4 spg, 44.3 FG%, 36.4 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 65.9 FT%, 0.8 ft/g, 32.8 mpg) (2012 SEC All-Freshman Team); 6-9 So PF Amile Jefferson (4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.6 a/to, 0.5 bpg, 0.4 spg, 54.3 FG%, 61.0 FT%, 0.8 ft/g, 12.7 mpg) (All-ACC Academic Team); 6-5 GS WG Andre Dawkins (2011-2012 Season Stats: 8.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.7 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 0.4 spg, 40.0 FG%, 39.2 3s%, 2.0 3s/g, 73.9 FT%, 1.0 ft/g, 22.4 mpg) (redshirt last season to deal with grief associated with death in family); 6-2 Sr PG Tyler Thornton (3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.1 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 1.3 spg, 40.6 FG%, 39.2 3s%, 0.9 3s/g, 68.0 FT%, 0.5 ft/g, 22.0 mpg); 6-8 Sr PF Josh Hairston (2.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.4 a/to, 0.2 bpg, 0.1 spg, 45.0 FG%, 0.0 3s% (0 for 1), 0.0 3s/g, 69.2 FT%, 0.5 ft/g, 12.7 mpg); 6-7 Fr WF Semilore Ojeleye (RSCI Consensus #32 Recruit) (ESPN: #40 Recruit, 88 Rating, #10 Wing Forward Prospect, 4 Star Recruit); 6-4 Fr WG Matt Jones (RSCI Consensus #34 Recruit) (ESPN: #36 Recruit, 88 Rating, #6 Wing Guard Prospect, 4 Star Recruit)

2012-2013 Season Team Stats:

  • Record: (30-6); ACC (14-4), 2nd place
  • Final National Top 25 Ranking: (#5 USA Today/Coaches Poll) (#6 AP Poll)
  • NCAA Basketball Tournament (#2 Seed; Lost in Elite 8 Round)
  • PPG: 77.2 to 65.3 (+11.9)
  • FG%: 47.2 FG% to 41.6 FG%
  • 3s%: 39.9 3s% to 29.0 3s%
  • 3s/g: 7.5 to 4.4
  • FT%: 73.9%
  • FT/g: 16.3 to 13.5
  • RPG: -1.1
  • APG: 14.3 to 9.5
  • TPG: 10.6 to 13.9 (+3.3)
  • A/T: 1.3 to 0.7
  • SPG: 6.4 to 5.0
  • BPG: 3.8 to 3.1

2012-2013 Major Team Strengths: 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Elite 8; Record Overall (30-6); ACC Record (14-4); ACC Finish (2nd Place); Final Top 25 National Ranking (#5 USA Today/Coaches Poll) (#6 AP Poll); Selection to NCAA Basketball Tournament (#2 Seed) (Lost in Elite 8); Scoring Offense (77.2 ppg); Scoring Defense (65.3 ppg); Scoring Margin (+11.9 ppg); Field Goal and Three Point Shooting (47.2 FG%, 39.9 3s%, 7.5 3s/g); Field Goal and Three Point Shooting Defense (41.6%, 29.0 3s%, 4.4 3s/g); Free Throw Shooting (73.9%, 16.3 ft/g); Assists (14.3 apg); Turnovers (10.6 tpg); Ball-handling (1.3 a/to); Assists Allowed (9.5 apg); Turnovers Differential (+3.3 tpg); Ball-handling Differential (1.3 a/to to 0.7 a/to); Steals Allowed (5.0 spg)

2012-2013 Major Team Weaknesses: Rebounding (-1.1 rpg)

2012-2013 Roster Players Not Returning:

Seniors: 6-10 PF/C Mason Plumlee (17.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.7 a/to, 1.5 bpg, 1.0 spg, 59.9 FG%, 68.1 FT%, 4.8 ft/g, 34.7 mpg) (Consensus 2nd Team All-American) (2nd Team AP, USBWA and NABC All-American) (1st Team All-ACC) (ACC Coaches All-ACC Defensive Team) (All-ACC Academic Team) (NBA Draft, 1st Round, #22 Pick, Brooklyn Nets); 6-2 WG Seth Curry (17.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 a/to, 0.2 bpg, 0.9 spg, 46.5 FG%, 43.8 3s%, 2.7 3s/g, 80.9 FT%, 3.5 ft/g, 32.3 mpg) (ACC Coaches 1st Team All-ACC) (ACSMA 2nd Team All-ACC) (2nd Team TSN All-American) (Signed free agent deal with Golden State Warriors); 6-11 PF Ryan Kelly (12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 a/to, 1.6 bpg, 0.7 spg, 45.3 FG%, 42.2 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 81.2 FT%, 3.0 ft/g, 28.9 mpg) (All-ACC Academic Team) (NBA Draft, 2nd Round, #48 Pick, Los Angeles Lakers)

2013-2014 Roster:

Grad Students: 6-5 WG Andre Dawkins (2011-2012 Season Stats: 8.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.7 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 0.4 spg, 40.0 FG%, 39.2 3s%, 2.0 3s/g, 73.9 FT%, 1.0 ft/g, 22.4 mpg) (redshirt last season to deal with grief associated with death in family)

Seniors: 6-2 PG Tyler Thornton (3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.1 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 1.3 spg, 40.6 FG%, 39.2 3s%, 0.9 3s/g, 68.0 FT%, 0.5 ft/g, 22.0 mpg); 6-8 PF Josh Hairston (2.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.4 a/to, 0.2 bpg, 0.1 spg, 45.0 FG%, 0.0 3s% (0 for 1), 0.0 3s/g, 69.2 FT%, 0.5 ft/g, 12.7 mpg)

Juniors: 6-2 PG Quinn Cook (11.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.4 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 1.4 spg, 41.6 FG%, 39.3 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 87.7 FT%, 1.8 ft/g, 33.6 mpg) (ACSMA 3rd Team All-ACC)

Sophomores: 6-8 WF/WG Rodney Hood (transfer from Mississippi State) (2011-2012 Stats at Mississippi State; 10.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.1 a/to, 0.4 bpg, 0.4 spg, 44.3 FG%, 36.4 3s%, 1.5 3s/g, 65.9 FT%, 0.8 ft/g, 32.8 mpg) (2012 SEC All-Freshman Team); 6-4 WG Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.5 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 0.8 spg, 42.4 FG%, 37.1 3s%, 1.4 3s/g, 80.2 FT%, 2.6 ft/g, 29.2 mpg) (All-ACC Freshman Team) (All-ACC Academic Team); 6-9 PF Amile Jefferson (4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.6 a/to, 0.5 bpg, 0.4 spg, 54.3 FG%, 61.0 FT%, 0.8 ft/g, 12.7 mpg) (All-ACC Academic Team); 6-9 WF Alex Murphy (2.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 a/to, 0.1 bpg, 0.2 spg, 49.1 FG%, 20.8 3s%, 0.2 3s/g, 41.7 FT%, 0.2 ft/g, 6.3 mpg); 7-0 C Marshall Plumlee (0.1 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.2 a/to, 0.2 bpg, 0.2 spg, 12.5 FG%, 0.0 FT% (0 for 8), 0.0 ft/g, 2.6 mpg)

Freshmen: 6-8 WF/PF Jabari Parker (RSCI Consensus #3 Recruit) (ESPN: #2 Recruit, 96 Rating, #2 Wing Forward Prospect, 5 Star Recruit); 6-7 WF Semilore Ojeleye (RSCI Consensus #32 Recruit) (ESPN: #40 Recruit, 88 Rating, #10 Wing Forward Prospect, 4 Star Recruit); 6-4 WG Matt Jones (RSCI Consensus #34 Recruit) (ESPN: #36 Recruit, 88 Rating, #6 Wing Guard Prospect, 4 Star Recruit)

(*Explanation of RSCI and ESPN Ratings for Freshmen and Recruits Appears Below)

(*) RSCI (Recruiting Services Consensus Index) ranked the top 100 high school seniors in the Class of 2013 based upon an averaging of the rankings of 6 of the better recruiting experts: (1) Van Coleman; (2) ESPN; (3) Scout; (4) Rivals; (5) Prep Stars; and (6) 24/7 Sports. For prior years, these and other recruiting experts were used to rank the top 100 seniors.

(*) ESPN Recruit Ratings: 90-100 (5 stars): Player demonstrates rare abilities, should have an immediate impact in the ACC, and has the potential for early entry into the NBA Draft. 85-89 (4 stars): Player could be the centerpiece of an ACC team and a 3-4 year starter. 80-84 (4 stars): Player has potential to make a significant contribution over 4 years in the ACC. 70-79 (3 stars): Player can contribute at ACC level and would be a standout in a weaker conference. 65-69 (2 stars): Player would be a multi-year starter in a weaker conference but an ACC bench player. 60-64 (2 stars): Player would be a role player even in a lesser conference than the ACC. 50-59 (1 star): Player would be a bench player in a weaker conference than the ACC. NR: Player has not been observed and graded by ESPN recruiting experts.

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