Now that I've returned home and had an opportunity to catch my breathe from my Preseason Tour, I'll try and run through my thoughts from each practice I attended. I've already done so for Ohio State and North Carolina:
Here are my thoughts and observations from Duke:
1) These guys could struggle early since every single player will fill a different role than a year ago. Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski admits he's probably never coached a team like this one. "I can't even equate it to any other year," K said. "We have talented guys, but they haven't established themselves yet."
2) Miles Plumlee was the most dominant big man - and maybe even player - on the floor. He's gained weight in the offseason, but even more important was the acquisition of confidence and swagger. If he can sustain that, he could be a major factor for Coach K and the Blue Devils this season. By the way, someone let Doug Gottlieb know that this Plumlee is pretty darn athletic.
|Season tips Nov. 7|
4) Ryan Kelly was arguably the Blue Devils top player on their trip to China and I bought into the fact he'll be one of the team's top players, but now I'm not quite convinced. Kelly can make shots, but I think he'll be inconsistent this season. He's also suspect on the defensive end.
5) Speaking of defense, I'm concerned about Duke's perimeter defense. The trio of Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers isn't exactly known for their defensive prowess. All three want to score the basketball. That's why Tyler Thornton will likely see plenty of time because he's the most consistent guard on the defensive end. "We're not going to be a team that forces turnovers," Coach K said. "That's not their DNA. But we need to be a team that limits second shots and keeps people off the foul line."
6) Austin Rivers will be interesting to watch. He's got that swagger - and the ability to score the ball - but he'll need to be careful about disrupting team chemistry. He's a Type A personality on the floor who has the potential to rub his teammates the wrong way if he's not careful.
7) Freshman Alex Murphy will play this season. Duke has a need for a big wing - and Murphy fits the bill. He won't score much this season, but he'll be asked to defend athletic wings and will need to rebound the ball and do the little things.
8) Mason Plumlee may never live up to the hype. He looks the part - skilled, good size and also possessing the swagger. But the light still hasn't turned on and he hasn't yet become the dominant player that many felt he'd already have turned into.
9) The Seth Curry point guard experiment will be critical for Duke this season. Curry, like his older brother, is a scorer at heart. However, Stephen was able to make the transition to point guard at Davidson. Can Seth do the same at Duke? It's going to take time and will be far more difficult because Stephen had to carry Davidson while Seth has to balance scoring the ball and also keeping his teammates happy.
10) There aren't too many teams in the nation who have a more formidable perimeter shooting duo than Curry and Dawkins. These two can flat-out shoot the ball.