Duke Basketball: Greatest Challenges for Potential Championship Run

Shawn BrubakerContributor IIDecember 8, 2012

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 28:  Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after scoring a basket with teammate Ryan Kelly #34 during their game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 28, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Duke's basketball program is on top of the world right now. Undefeated, including wins over three Top Five teams, the Blue Devils look to be one of the most solid contenders for a championship run. 

Despite their string of recent success, though, this team has some challenges to face before they are truly championship-caliber. These issues could hinder the Blue Devils come March.


Poor Rebounding

The number one issue facing the Blue Devils right now is their poor rebounding. Their 35.3 rebounds per game are good for 174th in the nation, compared to No. 1 Indiana's 41.9 boards per game.

Mason Plumlee certainly can't be blamed for the Blue Devils' issues: he's averaging over 11 rebounds per game. Beyond Plumlee, though, Duke is struggling badly. The next closest Blue Devil is Ryan Kelly, who averages just 4.6 rebounds per game.

Kelly deserves some criticism for his poor rebounding. At 6'11", Kelly is the biggest starter on the team and should be more effective on the boards. An upgrade in Kelly's play would go a long way for the Blue Devils in addressing this problem.

Rebounding really is Duke's only statistical weakness. If they shore that up, they will be among the best teams in the nation.


Minimal Contribution from the Bench

That Duke is undefeated with its brutal early schedule is impressive. That they've done it with just six players averaging more than 10 minutes per game is astounding.

The Blue Devils lean heavily on their five best players: each of them averages over 10 points per game. The next closest performer averages just 3.4. Compare that to Indiana, which has nine players averaging over 10 minutes per game. 

An injury to any of its top players would sink Duke. As good as Duke's top players are, they need to develop some depth to ensure their status as an elite team.



This Duke team has a ton of talent, and they've beaten some of the best teams in the nation. They are battle-tested and feature a great combination of interior and perimeter players. With a little more physicality on the rebounds and a better contribution from the bench, this team would truly be special.