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Tour Proves A Positive For Duke

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Duke didn't have all that much trouble with the Dubai team but we should say this: they were a lot better than we expected. They played with more flair than we ever imagined - behind the back passes, using the full court, looking more like a team out of New York than the Middle East.  It was a nice surprise.

As far as Duke goes, the trip did a lot of good things.  It proved that this is a team with depth and explosiveness and a lot of room to grow, perhaps starting with Austin Rivers.

As talented as he is, and keep in mind that we're talking about four games in the summer, Rivers struggled to subordinate his game.  It's not a big deal, certainly not in August.  He's a talented kid and has had good coaching from Day 1.  He'll figure it out.

The starters seem to be pretty much set, at least for the short term.  The more interesting question to us will be how the other roles work out.  We've told this before, but several years ago Coach K told his team that there was a role for someone who was willing to step in and do the dirty work.  It's not quite the same this year, but Tyler Thornton has already shown the younger players the quickest way to get minutes: play hard, play defense, hit the boards and build on that.

With Thornton, Josh Hairston, Michael Gbinije, Alex Murphy and soon Quinn Cook, Duke has some nice pieces to work with.  A better question may become this: who can provide an offensive boost off the bench? We'd count Mason and Miles Plumlee as more or less co-starters, so we don't mean them.  But they'll probably eventually need someone who can step up that way.

Still, the trip is cause for a lot of optimism, and roles will be sorted out soon enough. It's a deep and talented team, one Mike DeCourcy thinks could make major noise in March.

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