Has Duke Found the Answer on Defense?

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 28th, 2013

Back in late November we wrote about Duke’s historically bad defense. At the time, the Blue Devils were coming off their worst defensive effort of the last 12 years, having given up 90 points on 1.38 points per possession in their home squeaker against Vermont. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski was extremely upset and vowed that great improvement must be made on the defensive end of the floor. Five games later, it’s now a good time to see how much progress Duke’s defense has made in the intervening month of action.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski Was Pleased With Duke's Defense In Win Over UCLA (Photo: Mark Dolejs - USA TODAY Sports)

Coach Mike Krzyzewski Was Pleased With Duke’s Defense In Their Win Over UCLA
(Photo: Mark Dolejs – USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s take a more detailed look at the team’s defensive numbers from the first six Duke games through that dreadful Vermont performance on November 24. Then we will compare those statistics to what the Blue Devils have done in their last five games heading into the Christmas break. Here are the key defensive statistics from the first six games:

  • 1.07 – Opponents’ Avg Points Per Possession for All Games
  • 1.08 – Opponents’ Points Per Possession vs. Duke

By applying Ken Pomeroy’s principle of adjusting for competition, we come up with an Adjusted Defensive Rating of 1.05 PPP for Duke’s first six games. That number would currently put Duke’s defense at around #200 in the nation in Pomeroy’s ratings – lousy defense indeed. Now that’s look at the same metric for Duke’s last five games:

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ACC M5: 12.20.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 20th, 2013

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  1. Chicago Tribune: The biggest difference for Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman this season? He’s playing twice as many minutes! He’s also one of the better rebounders in the ACC, getting to the line more, and blocking more shots. Not bad for a guy who averaged 15 minutes per game last season. The former Michigan State transfer is one of Notre Dame’s most important players (arguably the Irish’s most important if you consider the void left by Jack Cooley’s graduation), and although Sherman’s numbers are nowhere near Cooley’s, he’s proved to be more than capable of anchoring Mike Brey’s system.The guy to watch against Ohio State, though, is Demetrius Jackson. He’s been getting more minutes as the season progresses, and appears primed for a breakout game soon.
  2. CBS Sports: Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of his early season slump last night against UCLA. He didn’t have a gaudy stat line or game — just eight points, six rebounds and five assists. But in 18 minutes of action, Sulaimon looked a lot like the player who started for the Blue Devils last year. This game was a good reminder of why he’s so important for Duke going forward, because it’s safe to say Sulaimon will get minutes if he continues to play with that intensity. What remains unclear is how much Sulaimon’s resurgence will affect Matt Jones’ minutes. Andre Dawkins will obviously see consistent (but limited) time as a potential offensive spark plug off the bench, and don’t expect Tyler Thornton to fall out of the rotation anytime soon. But that may leave Jones as the odd wing out unless Duke elects to go small occasionally.
  3. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Don’t tease me with these awesome potential series if you don’t really mean it! I’m looking at you, James Johnson. Here’s to hoping Johnson follows through and inks a long-term deal with Virginia Commonwealth sooner than later. In-state rivalries are the best, and while most people wouldn’t lose sleep over Virginia Tech not playing the Rams every year, both programs would be better off for it.
  4. Washington Post: This is a good piece looking at the questions facing Tony Bennett as Virginia takes a break for finals and the holidays. Notably, should he sub differently? What should his rotation look like? Why can’t his team hit free throws? (Crazy stat from the article: Joe Harris is hitting less than 55 percent of his free throws this year. How is that even possible?!) How does he fix the team’s abysmal assist to turnover ratio? I’m not sure all of those questions have answers, but I think finding ways to make London Perrantes more comfortable will help. And Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell have to step up and play at or near the level people expected them to coming into the season.
  5. Washington Post: Throwback! This oral history of the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry is tremendous. It’s also long, but totally worth it whether you’re trying to brush up on a little history of the ACC newcomer or you’re just nostalgic for the retro-Big East. Check it out.

VIDEO EXTRA: Missed this when this first hit, but this Seth Davis interview with Rick Barnes on his tense relationship with Dean Smith is really worth the time (h/t Laura Keeley).

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Rushed Reactions: Duke 80, UCLA 63

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 20th, 2013

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Brian Otskey filed this report after Duke’s win over UCLA on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Three Key Takeaways.

Duke Used a Superb Second Half Effort to Run Past the Bruins

Duke Used a Superb Second Half Effort to Run Past the Bruins

  1. Duke is getting better defensively. After a so-so defensive first half, Duke held UCLA to 26 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the second stanza. In particular, Rodney Hood did a terrific job containing Jordan Adams and keeping him out of any kind of rhythm. The Blue Devils also frustrated Zach LaVine into a number of bad shots that fueled Duke’s transition attack. Holding the nation’s third-leading scoring team to 63 points is a feather in Duke’s cap and it appears Mike Krzyzewski’s much-maligned defense is starting to come together. If the Blue Devils can defend at this kind of level, they will be the clear favorites in the ACC.
  2. Rasheed Sulaimon may have found his role. Sulaimon had a terrific freshman season for Duke in 2012-13 but his second go-around in Durham has been anything but smooth sailing. After being benched against Michigan and playing only five minutes against Gardner-Webb, Sulaimon gained a lot of confidence in 18 minutes of action tonight. While he was only 3-of-7 from the floor, Sulaimon grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. On a team with so many options, he needs to carve out a role for himself without trying to do too much. He did just that tonight and his teammates and coaches noticed. This should serve Sulaimon well going forward and get him out of Coach K’s doghouse.
  3. UCLA needs to figure it out defensively. UCLA entered the game allowing opponents to score 70.2 points per game but allowed 80 Duke points on 48.4 percent shooting. We knew defending the three-point line was going to be key for the Bruins tonight but they did not do a good job. Duke shot a lukewarm 34.4 percent from beyond the arc but it bombarded UCLA with 32 attempts and 11 makes. This has been a recurring issue for Steve Alford’s team this season and until it figures it out, there will be a ceiling to how far it can go. Offense can take you a long way but against top competition such as Duke and the kind they will face in the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins must do better.

Star of the Game:  Jabari Parker, Duke. The stud Blue Devil freshman shined once again under the bright lights. Parker put together a double-double, tallying 23 points and 10 rebounds on an efficient 7-of-13 shooting night. The 6’8” forward also recorded five assists in the win. UCLA had a difficult time matching up with Parker and it showed. He basically got what he wanted on any part of the court whether it was from long range or around the basket.

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ACC M5: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 6th, 2013

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  1. Duke Chronicle: Unsurprising news out of Durham as Duke’s student newspaper was the first to report that redshirt sophomore Alex Murphy will be transferring at the end of the semester. Despite starting his first two exhibition games last season, Murphy never found a consistent spot in the Duke rotation. Rumors are that he may head to Florida (his brother’s alma mater) or back to New England (he’s from Rhode Island). Murphy’s departure might open a few more minutes for Semi Ojeleye, though we are talking about very limited minutes.
  2. The Sporting News: Speaking of Duke, I don’t understand Mike DeCourcy’s grade for the Blue Devils after the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. He docks the Blue Devils half a letter grade because of Rasheed Sulaimon‘s DNP. Call me crazy, but if we are evaluating a team’s performance–which was by far its best of the season–maybe there’s good reason for the DNP. I definitely agree Duke with Sulaimon has the potential to be more dangerous than without him, but that doesn’t take away from Duke’s dominant performance against Michigan. Speaking of bones to pick, Boston College isn’t good, but it’s also not anywhere close to winning the “worst major team” title–or even the “worst ACC team” title (assuming Miami and Virginia Tech are still in the league).
  3. Alaska Dispatch: Your somewhat regular reminder that Devon Bookert is from Alaska (and the first non-Duke Alaskan ACC star). Bookert is an efficient shooter (and was incredibly so last season)–largely thanks to his shot selection–but sounds like he wants to continue making strides forward. But the increased offensive load has hurt his overall efficiency this season, as his three-point field goal percentage and assist rate have fallen significantly, while his turnover percentage remains high. All that said Bookert is one of the best players people tend to overlook in the ACC, and his play has a lot to do with Florida State’s early season success.
  4. BC Interruption: And everyone off the Steve Donahue bandwagon. While I stood up for Boston College’s pride earlier, this team is still a big disappointment. It’s offense improved compared to last season, but it’s defense is truly abysmal. Combine the slow start with an underwhelming early signing period and what do you get? Hot seat talk! I’m all for this proposal, which calls for Boston College to hire alumnus Bruce Pearl to turn the program around despite his show-cause, which remains in effect through next August. Though, I think there’s little downside giving Donahue one more year (so you can get the un-sanctioned Pearl immediately).
  5. Chronicle of Higher Education: Looking for more insight into the initial backlash to Maryland‘s move to the Big Ten? Freedom of Information Act requests have you covered! It’s interesting how when the initial rumors leaked out, Maryland fans were up in arms, as it feels mostly the opposite at this point (the PR firm may have paid off). It’s also amusing that John Swofford fired off a quick “we need to talk” email from his iPhone. Together with this article from the Baltimore Sun, we now have a good feel for Maryland’s actions and tone leading up to and immediately following its announcement to leave for the Big Ten.
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ACC M5: 12.05.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 5th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: The story of the night was North Carolina dismantling Michigan State in East Lansing. Roy Williams has owned the Spartans since taking the helm in Chapel Hill, and his team flat outplayed Izzo’s in every respect. But James Michael McAdoo‘s struggles continued, as he finished 3-of-11 from the floor, 2-of-6 from the free throw line, and grabbed only four rebounds. It’s starting to look like Brice Johnson (14 points on 11 shots) and Kennedy Meeks (15 points on eight shots) will see more of McAdoo’s playing time. To be fair to McAdoo, his game isn’t suited for the three position (where a lot of his minutes are coming thanks to North Carolina’s thin roster on the wing), but with the way the current frontcourt is playing, it’s hard to argue that the Tar Heels would be better off with him back at power forward.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Nearly all the talk from Duke’s rout of Michigan Tuesday night was about the Blue Devils’ newfound toughness, defense and rebounding (probably all correlated), and that was certainly the biggest story from the game. But a sidenote to the game was that Rasheed Sulaimon earned the old DNP (coach’s decision). Afterwards Tyler Thornton cut straight to the point: “As a man, he has to step up and accept what he needs to do,” Thornton said. “We need him. That’s all I can really say about that.” However, I was struck watching the game that Sulaimon needs to step up quickly not because Duke needs him but precisely the opposite. If he’s in some proverbial Coach K dog house, it doesn’t help for Matt Jones and Tyler Thornton to piece together Duke’s best wing defense of the season (with Andre Dawkins providing his patented spark off the bench). Still, Thornton is right in that Duke needs Sulaimon on the court to achieve its potential this season.
  3. Sports Illustrated: CJ Fair is quietly filling the “go-to” guy role for Syracuse this year — at least, that’s the perception (largely thanks to some clutch shooting against Baylor in Maui). And don’t get me wrong, Fair’s athleticism and mid-range game still make him one of the best players in the conference (and he’s Syracuse’s most important offensive player not named Tyler Ennis). But he’s the least efficient Orange starter by a significant margin thanks to his proclivity to turn the ball over. Part of that is due to the offense Fair often runs (high-risk isolations), and there’s no question he makes his teammates better. But he needs to cut down on his turnovers, or running the offense through him will ultimately prove an error in judgment.
  4. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Looks like the quest-for-40 joke yesterday wasn’t such a joke after all. Virginia lost to Wisconsin at home despite holding the Badgers to under 29 percent shooting from the field. Only one player eked his way into double figures (Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser with 11). The Cavaliers didn’t hit a field goal during the last nine minutes of regulation nor the first 8:42 of the second half. That’s right, Virginia made a grand total of three field goals in the second half (all in a span of just over two minutes). That’s downright abysmal. Toss in a nearly 10-minute field goal drought in the first half and it’s amazing Tony Bennett’s team kept the game as close as it did.
  5. Soaring to Glory: If December really is make-or-break for Boston College, it’s looking like a break. I guess winning the ACC Tournament is always possible, but more and more that looks like the only way the Eagles will earn a ticket to the Big Dance. Boston College got beat by a not so great Purdue team on Wednesday night. Speaking of guys in the dog house, Patrick Heckmann got all of four minutes against the Boilermakers. Steve Donahue has said Heckmann isn’t hurt, which is confusing to say the least (during his freshman year before contracting mononucleosis, Heckmann was the team’s leading scorer).
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ACC M5: 12.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 2nd, 2013

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  1. CBS Sports and NBC Sports: After Duke lost another game to a very good team after leading most of the game, the popular question is whether or not the Kansas and Arizona losses are reasons to toss Duke out as a national contender. There’s no doubt, the losses bring up some concerns (though my question was “Why did Mike Krzyzewski randomly start playing zone?”). But not many teams are as big and athletic as Kansas and Arizona. Those are tough match-ups for Duke, which is still a young team. It’s not a surprise they struggled. The other story that didn’t get a ton of publicity after the game is how quiet Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon were in the second half for Duke. The backcourt holds the key.
  2. NBC Sports and Tar Heel Blog: Speaking of raising questions, North Carolina didn’t exactly silence its doubters by losing a close game at Roy Williams protege Jerod Haase’s UAB Blazers. The Tar Heels got killed on the boards, and the Blazers concentrated on stopping Marcus Paige with considerable success. Look for Michigan State to key on Paige again this week. Until someone else shows the ability to be the man in his place, there’s no downside. That said, I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tar Heels pull out the win because (1) I have no idea what to think about this team and (2) Roy Williams is Tom Izzo’s kryptonite.
  3. Burlington Times-News: NC State looked significantly better against Eastern Kentucky and showed the ability to score against a zone–albeit a shorter, less athletic one than Syracuse will trot out in ACC play. Promising signs came from Jordan Vandenberg, who set a career high, and TJ Warren, who managed 26 points in the second half. This team is already improving, which is a good sign. To keep up his success on the recruiting trail, Mark Gottfried needs to keep showing player and program development.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: If you haven’t watched Florida State, you should know that Leonard Hamilton’s team looks for real. The Seminoles came a touch-foul away from taking Florida to overtime on the road. Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky looked terrific. The twin sophomore towers kept the game within reach. Ojo in particular is a completely new player. Hamilton is the best coach in the league at developing big men. Last year Ojo looked completely lost. This year, he still has his moments, but is much more confident with the ball and is a terror on the boards. This team is good (much better than anyone predicted), but the next couple years could really be special.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the hottest ACC teams historically from downtown. Number one? Virginia Tech. Yep, this year’s Hokie team is shooting an unbelievable 45.5% from deep. This year’s Duke team is third on the list. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh also check in at over 40%. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, that percentage is likely to drop, which will hurt its already mediocre offensive efficiency.

EXTRA: Joe Harris has ups.

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Duke Trying to Strike a Balance With Its Perimeter Defense

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 15th, 2013

Everyone knew Duke would be a very different team this season compared to 2012-13. Last year’s team was built around three seniors — Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Seth Curry. Plumlee was an athletic big man, but the other two relied on a high skill level to make up for a lack of elite athleticism. That team was clearly better offensively than defensively and had a very good year with a run to the Elite Eight and a loss to eventual national champion, Louisville. With the addition of some quicker and more athletic players, the expectation for this season was that Duke would get back to the effective pressure defense that Blue Devil championship teams of the past had shown. That was clearly not the case in Tuesday’s Champions Classic loss to Kansas. The offense was good, scoring 83 points in a 75-possession game, but the defense was not, allowing Kansas 1.25 points per possession and matching the worst performance Duke’s defense had in any game last year.

Duke could not stop Kansas down the stretch. (Photo: Getty images)

Duke could not stop Kansas down the stretch. (Photo: Getty images)

So what went wrong? There could be multiple reasons. but they may not all be fixable this season. The first explanation is that this is still a young and developing Duke team and it was only the second game of the year. Perhaps the ease with which the red-hot shooting Blue Devils dispatched Davidson in their opener gave the Blue Devils a false sense of where they really were as a team. That mentality seemed to be at issue down the stretch against Kansas. In his postgame interview, Mike Krzyzewski lamented the fact that his team just couldn’t get stops when they needed to, as if they were in a mindset that they could just outscore Kansas.

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Preseason ACC Microsite Awards: Joe Harris Preseason POY

Posted by Matt Patton on November 9th, 2013

The ACC microsite is happy to announce our preseason Player of the Year and all-ACC teams, as selected by the five writers contributing this season.

Preseason All-ACC

Some Notes:

  • Seven of 15 teams had at least one selection to the teams. Virginia and North Carolina led the way with two selections each.
  • Virginia’s Joe Harris received three of five votes for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Jabari Parker and CJ Fair received one vote each.
  • Harris and Fair were unanimous selections for the first team.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood actually tied Virginia’s Akil Mitchell for votes, but Mitchell’s one first-team vote put him over the top in a tie-breaker.
  • Ryan Anderson, Quinn Cook, Travis McKie, Rasheed Sulaimon and Okaro White each received one second-team vote.
  • The first team has two seniors (Harris and Fair), two sophomores (Olivier Hanlan and TJ Warren) and one freshman (Parker).
  • The second team has more experience than the first team with three juniors and two seniors.
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ACC Team Preview: Duke Blue Devils

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 7th, 2013

Duke had a successful 2013-14 season but it will be remembered as three seasons in one. Led by the senior trio of Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly, Duke got off to the best start in the country, winning its first 15 games against a very tough schedule. Then Kelly went down with a foot injury and the Blue Devils dropped to merely a good team, going 9-4 without him in the lineup. Kelly’s dramatic return in a 79-76 win over eventual ACC champion Miami gave hope to Duke as a national title contender, but they couldn’t quite get there, losing to a superior Louisville team in the Elite Eight.

Duke Preview 2013

Ordinarily, losing three quality starting seniors would indicate a worse season to come, but thanks to a pair of highly regarded new forwards, Duke is expected to remain a national contender. Mike Krzyzewski has also made it clear that a change in style is coming. Duke will not have the veteran post players it had last year, but it will be a much more athletic and deeper team so look for the Blue Devils to push the tempo on both ends of the court. It’s been said that the makeup of this team is similar to Coach K’s 2012 USA Olympic team. That team lacked a true post scorer and was built around versatile play-making forwards on offense and a switching pressure defense. Look for Krzyzewski to use that experience to build this Duke team in the same fashion.

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20 Questions: Who is This Year’s Indiana?

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on November 7th, 2013

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Who is this year’s Indiana? Whoa, that is a loaded question that certainly won’t endear me to one particular fan base. This exercise is essentially an educated guess based on unknowns, so remember to take this with a big grain of salt. Before we begin, here is a little refresher for those who may have forgotten some things about last season. The 2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers were the nation’s preseason No. 1 team, an ultra-talented group that went 26-5 in the regular season and won the Big Ten with a 14-4 league record. Despite bowing out to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Hoosiers locked up the top seed in the East Region, eventually falling to fourth-seeded Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen as Tom Crean and his club simply had no answer for Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone. In a year where IU fans had dreams of at least another Final Four and possibly a national championship, the Hoosiers’ season ended with a resounding thud – a full two rounds short of the ultimate goal, Atlanta.

Jabari Parker has arrived in Durham but will it be enough to vault Duke past the Sweet Sixteen? (credit: RNO)

Jabari Parker has arrived in Durham but will it be enough to vault Duke past the Sweet Sixteen? (credit: RNO)

So, who fills that unlucky role this season (if anyone)? This question is inherently difficult because of the simple fact that I have to choose a highly-ranked team, all of them capable of making the Final Four, winning a national championship and making this article look incredibly foolish. But I’m going to go with Duke. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils enter the season ranked No. 4 in the nation in both the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls. However, this is a considerably different Duke team from last year’s 30-6 outfit that advanced to the Elite Eight. Gone are Coach K’s top three scorers: Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly. Coming in is Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood along with the nation’s seventh-ranked recruiting class, headlined by the player some folks feel is the best incoming freshman in the nation, Jabari Parker. Sharpshooter Andre Dawkins also returns after a year off. Without Plumlee and his terrific inside presence, this Duke team will have a different look in 2013-14. Krzyzewski has admitted as much in many preseason interviews, but adjusting his playing style to fit the talents and skills of his team is not going to be a problem for the Hall of Famer and winningest coach in men’s Division I history.

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ACC M5: 11.07.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 7th, 2013

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  1. Baltimore Sun: According to Jeff Barker’s Public Information Act request, Maryland “sought to influence the debate [over the school's move to the Big Ten] with a plan to lobby media pundits and plant positive comments into fan message boards.” Specifically, the department targeted ESPN‘s Scott Van Pelt, as “It would be in our best interest to let Van Pelt break the story and talk about all of the positives.” That’s not a great look for Maryland or Van Pelt, who was in fact a positive voice soon after the decision went public.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Luke DeCock has a good look at the three Triangle basketball teams through one important question that needs to be answered. Duke‘s question is probably the most interesting, as it’s the most recent to appear: How will Rasheed Sulaimon adapt to his new role? On the surface, there’s not a lot here. But consider that Sulaimon played poorly in Duke’s first exhibition and didn’t play at all in the Blue Devils’s second (reportedly because he was recovering from illness). Now factor in that when Coach K announced the likely starters for this year he only listed four, and Sulaimon — who started most of last season — didn’t make the list. It should be interesting to keep an eye on this going forward.
  3. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Jim Boeheim is warming up his saltiness for the season with a mini-rant on graduation rates. Last month the NCAA released its annual graduation statistics and Syracuse‘s number wasn’t great (47%). This wasn’t news to Boeheim, who lost two scholarships due to the APR a couple of years back, but that didn’t keep him from touching on the subject in a postgame presser recently. His argument is that Syracuse shouldn’t be punished for players choosing to leave the program. While the take certainly makes sense, other schools that have many early departures (ahem, Kentucky) don’t struggle with the APR because they force students departing for the NBA Draft to remain academically eligible through their spring semesters. It’s really not that hard to figure out.
  4. Blogger So Dear: The gentlemen over at Blogger So Dear sat down and wrote a short prediction for the upcoming season. They chose Wake Forest at #11, hot on the heels of NC State’s young team (though one writer had the Demon Deacons as high as #9). The only two unanimous votes for All-ACC went to Joe Harris and CJ Fair. They also make a good argument for Tony Bennett winning Coach of the Year, as his team looks poised to comfortably make the NCAAs this season and normally a big jump earns attention in that award category (regardless of the actual coaching job done).
  5. Orlando Sentinel: The ACC’s newest potential star from Alaska is Florida State’s Devon Bookert. He is definitely the player to watch on Florida State this year, as he had a very promising finish to last season. There are still plenty of reasons to question the Seminoles otherwise, but Bookert will likely surprise many ACC fans just as he apparently has surprised his teammates. He’s likely the difference between an average Florida State team this year and a horrible one.
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Duke Looking to Run Early and Often With This Year’s Roster

Posted by Chris Kehoe on October 26th, 2013

Duke’s roster this season is merely a shell of its former self. Gone is the backbone of the team, gone are the three seniors, gone are the leaders, gone are 47.9 PPG. You get the point. Duke lost its three leading scorers and a huge part of its 30-win Elite Eight team. Yet people are excited about the prospects of this team, even perhaps more excited than last season. Duke returns both its junior floor general, Quinn Cook, and its sophomore shooting guard and McDonald’s All-American, Rasheed Sulaimon. Another two McDonald’s All-Americans return in sophomore forward Amile Jefferson and redshirt sophomore center Marshall Plumlee. Where Duke changes up the offensive schemes and flips the script is with the two future NBA swingmen on the roster, Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and blue-chip freshman Jabari Parker.

Quinn Cook calls Duke's new offense 'a point guard's dream' (USA Today)

Quinn Cook calls Duke’s new offense ‘a point guard’s dream’ (USA Today)

Don’t be mistaken, though, Duke is still Duke. They will continue to have shooters spotting up around the arc for open looks: postgraduate sniper Andre Dawkins, freshman Matt Jones, Sulaimon, Cook, and even senior perimeter stopper Tyler Thornton all can and will fire away with a green light from deep. But as ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan pointed out in a recent excerpt about Duke, Mike Krzyzewski above all adapts to his team’s strengths. And with a team full of athletic and versatile players like Parker, Sulaimon, Hood, and Jefferson, Krzyzewski has this year’s team poised to run early and often. “Last year’s team couldn’t run like this team can now,” senior captain Thornton exclaimed.

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