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Duke Basketball: Lack of Depth Will Cost Blue Devils Heading into ACC Action

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 28:  Shannon Scott #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Quinn Cook #2 of the Duke Blue Devils dive for a loose ball during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 28, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Rick WeinerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 20, 2016

So far, so good for Duke Basketball in the 2012-13 season.

Coach K's squad is the top-ranked team in the country, owners of a perfect 11-0 record that includes three wins against teams ranked in the Top 25 when they faced Duke: No. 3 Kentucky, No. 2 Louisville and No. 5 Ohio State.

But as the calendar flips to 2013 and the ACC portion of Duke's schedule gets underway, keeping that shiny record free of imperfections is going to be a far more difficult thing to do.

Why?

Because Duke is about as deep as a kiddie pool.

As you can see below, six players have combined to play 176 minutes and score 74.2 points per game for Duke this year.

Player GP MIN PPG
Mason Plumlee 11 32.5 19.3
Seth Curry 10 29.5 15.7
Rasheed Sulaimon 11 30.7 12.7
Ryan Kelly 11 29.4 12.6
Quinn Cook 11 31.7 10.4
Tyler Thornton 11 22.2 3.5
TOTALS   176

74.2

That works out to six players accounting for 88 percent of the available minutes—there are 200 in a regulation game.

With everyone on that list playing more minutes than they did last year—with the exception of Seth Curry, whose playing time is down slightly from 30.2 minutes in 2011-12—they are all at risk of wearing down sooner rather than later.

Even finely tuned athletes get tired.

More alarming than how many minutes they play is the fact that those six players account for 92 percent of Duke's offense, as the Blue Devils average 80.4 points per game.

As we enter ACC play (Duke's first conference game is against Wake Forest in front of the Cameron Crazies on January 5), we know that the games will become increasingly more physical and more intense.

What happens if—or rather, when—one of those six suffers an injury?

The next three off of the bench—Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy and Josh Hairston—average 26.8 minutes and 7.6 points per game combined.

Duke is ill-prepared to handle an injury that keeps any of those six players out of action for an extended period of time.

The Blue Devils have been able to dodge the bullet so far in 2012, but sooner or later, the injury bug pays a visit to everyone.

When it does, Duke will be hard-pressed to win that fight.

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