Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The Duke Blue Devils lose three starters from a year ago but in typical program fashion, Mike Krzyzewski returns with a loaded roster led by highly recruited forward Jabari Parker. The big difference from this season’s Duke team as opposed to year’s past is that there isn’t a whole lot of size inside.
DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Last Season: 1st, 14-4 in ACC, 27-5 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 1st
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Amile Jefferson (So)/Josh Hairston (Sr)/Marshall Plumlee (So)
F: Jabari Parker (Fr)/Alex Murphy (So)
SF: Rodney Hood (So)/Semi Ojeleye (Fr)
SG: Rasheed Sulaimon (So)/Andre Dawkins (Sr)/Matt Jones (Fr)
PG: Quinn Cook (Jr)/Tyler Thornton (Sr)
Gone: C-Mason Plumlee, G-Seth Curry, PF-Ryan Kelly
As a result, Duke figures to use more of a three forward starting line-up that lacks a true big man. Parker is one of the top freshmen in the country for a good reason. He can do a little bit of everything on the floor offensively whether it’s attacking the rim or shooting it from the outside. Duke needs him to play bigger this season and he must be a factor on the glass as well.
Parker will be joined by Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and Amille Jefferson. Jefferson assumes the role of the starting center even though he is more of a combo forward. Having the responsibility of guarding opposing team’s big men will be a huge transition for him though. Hood is a smooth, athletic lefty who adds even more versatility to the floor since he can play either forward spot. During his freshman season with the Bulldogs, he averaged about ten points and five rebounds per game and creates a dangerous 1-2 scoring punch along with Parker.
The only real size and physicality inside comes off the bench from Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee. Hairston is an undersized power forward who brings energy and toughness to the floor but is limited in most other areas of his game. The youngest Plumlee brother redshirted last season and is only true center on the roster. He will be thrust into action because of his size but is still a fairly raw product with his all-around game.
Alex Murphy and Semi Ojeleye add even more depth and versatility at forward. Murphy is more of a faceup forward who could find minutes hard to come by. Due to his athleticism and strength, Coach K may have no other choice but to work Ojeleye into the rotation as his aggressiveness on the boards is needed since that is a huge concern for the Blue Devils.
Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon are the two returning starters for Duke. Cook made tremendous strides as a true floor general during his sophomore campaign while Sulaimon slides over to his more natural shooting guard position after technically starting at the three last year. Both guys are dangerous outside shooters who carry more responsibility into the season now that Seth Curry has moved on.
Duke has solid depth at guard led by senior Tyler Thornton who has been a steady role player since arriving on campus. Andre Dawkins is back after redshirting last season and brings some scoring punch off the bench. Same too is true of freshman Matt Jones who is a sniper from downtown and seems more than ready to somehow factor into the rotation at the crowded guard position.
Coach K has a talented and deep collection of guards and versatile forwards but the end result of this season will be determined by how the Duke Blue Devils are able to rebound and defend bigger teams inside. On the flip side of that, Duke themselves will be a tough team to guard because of all their weapons on offense.
Player to Watch: Jabari Parker
There isn’t a whole lot of weakness in Parker’s game and on top of that, he is a humble young man who is hungry to become even better. He is a legitimate ACC Player of the Year candidate and will be one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft IF he turns pro (I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he stays for his sophomore year… he just seems like that kind of kid.)
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. Davidson
11/12 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic in Chicago)
11/27 vs. likely Alabama (Preseason NIT)
11/29 vs. Arizona/Rhode Island/Rutgers/Drexel (Preseason NIT)
12/3 vs. Michigan (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/19 vs. UCLA (at Madison Square Garden)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#9 Oklahoma State
#10 Ohio State
#11 North Carolina
#15 Notre Dame
#21 Wichita State
#23 New Mexico
#29 St. John’s
#33 Boise State
#36 St. Louis
#37 La Salle
#38 San Diego State
#40 Arizona State
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks