Last season was nothing short of a resounding disaster for Duke Basketball.
Even before the team's opening-round loss to (extreme) Lehigh—which is certainly in the “biggest March Madness upset ever” conversation— things looked grim.
Austin Rivers’ game-winner against UNC overshadowed an otherwise streaky and often perplexing year in Durham. This goes for not only his Blue Devils career, but also for the yearlong struggles of the entire team.
Heading into last season, Duke was forced to recover from a devastating personnel loss. Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving left for the NBA, leaving behind a ragbag of talent. Even with Irving’s limited time, the threesome still combined for 53 percent of Duke’s total points.
Duke had pure shooters in Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry. They were stocked with role-playing bigs in the Plumlees. Rising junior, Ryan Kelly, was somewhere in between. Sure, Rivers was supposed to alleviate some of this situation, but as we clearly learned, he was far from ready for the task—not that one player can fix such a gashing wound anyway.
Someone needed to develop a more complete game, and while all the named players made improvements, no one could return Duke to its championship level.
Fast-forward one year. What has changed?
Curry and Kelly are more experienced, but still must improve from their respective 2012 performances. One Plumlee has been exchanged for another. Another ESPN 5-star guard (Rasheed Sulaimon) enters the picture with loads of responsibility.
While it is true that guys like Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton, redshirt freshman Alex Murphy and incoming freshman forward Amile Jefferson give Duke improved depth and size, the essence of the situation is similar to that of a year ago.
If Duke wants to avoid a repeat, it will, once again, need someone to upgrade his skills and leadership. That player is Seth Curry, who is the 2012 leading scorer among Duke returners (13.2 PPG). Here’s how he needs to do it…