How Does This Duke Squad Stack Up with Coach K's Title-Winning Teams?

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJanuary 31, 2013

How Does This Duke Squad Stack Up with Coach K's Title-Winning Teams?

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    Mike Krzyzewski has had the privilege of coaching four NCAA tournament champions at Duke, and this current squad of Blue Devils could be his fifth.

    The 2012-13 version of Duke basketball is undefeated when Ryan Kelly is healthy, and he should be back for the team in the postseason, barring any unforeseen setbacks.

    Assuming that Kelly does play, let's compare Coach K's four national champions with the current team.

Criteria

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    Point Guard Play

    I am a believer that point guard is the most important position on the floor. Title-winning teams always have good floor generals, and this category is all about the point.

     

    Scoring Threats

    This category is exclusively for perimeter scoring threats. Guys who play shooting guard and/or wing are eligible, and are judged primarily on their ability to score, but also their other traits.

     

    Big Men

    This is all about the big guys inside who are changing the game by dominating the paint. This category takes into account all skills and production from power forwards and centers.

     

    The Star

    The brightest star of the team is always key, and that's why he gets his own category on this list.

2012-13 Team Versus 1990-91 Team

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    Point Guard Play

    Bobby Hurley was just a sophomore in the 1990-91 season, but he was already Duke's starting point guard—and one of the best in the nation.

    Quinn Cook is also just a sophomore this year, but he has developed from a decent point guard, who had to platoon with Tyler Thornton, to one of the breakout stars this season.

    By the numbers, Hurley's 7.4 assists per game trumps Cook's 6.2, but Cook leads in points and rebounds per game.

    At this point in his career, Hurley was not a very big scoring threat. While he played suffocating defense, Cook has proven to be just as effective against guys like Peyton Siva and Aaron Craft.

    Edge: Even

     

    Scoring Threats

    This year the Blue Devils have guys like Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon lighting opponents up on the scoreboard. These guys are the primary scorers on the perimeter, and combine for 27.7 points per game.

    The 1990-91 team didn't have very many options on the perimeter. Point guard Bobby Hurley and big man Christian Laettner were the key to the offense, but there was a guy named Grant Hill on the wing.

    To be fair, Hill was just a freshman, and he only averaged 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He was not yet one of the greatest players in the school's history, and he was not even as good as Curry or Sulaimon.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    Big Men

    The 1990-91 team had none other than Christian Laettner in the paint.

    As arguably the greatest player in Duke history, he was dominant in his junior season, averaging 19.8 points ad 8.7 rebounds per game.

    Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly are the big men for Duke this year, combining for 31.5 points and 16.5 rebounds per game. Plumlee is almost about dominant as Laettner this year, averaging fewer points but more rebounds.

    It's tough to give an edge here, but I'm going to give a slight one to the current team because of Kelly's play.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    The Star

    There is no doubt that Christian Laettner and Mason Plumlee will square off here once again.

    Laettner's 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game are similar to Plumlee's 18.1 points and 11.1 rebounds. The two have similar styles of play, and to see them go head-to-head would be a treat for any basketball fan.

    It's too close to call a victor here, once again, and we have another tie.

    Edge: Even

     

    Verdict: 2012-13 Team...but not by much

2012-13 Team Versus 1991-92 Team

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    Point Guard Play

    It's another matchup between Bobby Hurley and Quinn Cook, but this time Hurley is a junior.

    In the 1991-92 season, Hurley averaged 13.2 points and 7.6 assists per game. He still trails Cook in rebounding because Cook is more of a natural athlete, but this time Hurley's improved scoring ability puts him ahead of Duke's current floor general.

    Edge: 1991-92 Team

     

    Scoring Threats

    The 1991-92 team was very similar to the team from the previous year, with Hill being the primary scoring threat on the perimeter.

    Hill was up to 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists at this point, which made him just as valuable as Seth Curry is this year, but he did not yet have a partner like Rasheed Sulaimon to help push him over the top.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    Big Men

    With another year of experience, Christian Laettner became not only the best best man in the nation, but also the best player.

    Averaging 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, he was still tough to stop in the paint. He also played stifling defense, and in this season he shot an astounding 55.7 percent from three.

    This time around, Laettner completely outclasses Plumlee, and the addition of freshman Cherokee Parks inside helps give the 1991-92 team the edge.

    Edge: 1991-92 Team

     

    The Star

    Once again Laettner and Plumlee square off, but this time it's the senior version of Laettner.

    This time around, Laettner is bringing 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, but what's more important is the fact that he shot 55.7 percent from three during the 1991-92 campaign. Oh, and did I also mention that he was so clutch that he hit college basketball's greatest shot ever?

    Laettner won every major National Player of the Year award that season, and while Plumlee is the favorite to do the same, Laettner is the clear victor.

    Edge: 1991-92 Team

     

    Verdict: 1991-92 Team in a near-sweep

2012-13 Team Versus 2000-01 Team

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    Point Guard Play

    The 2000-01 team was led by combo-guard Jason Williams. I would call him a point guard, but that just seems like an insult to his ability to score.

    In this season, Williams averaged 21.6 points, 6.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He was just a sophomore, but he was already dominating the game in an even more pronounced fashion than Cook is.

    Williams was a national star, and he almost doubles Cook's scoring numbers, while coming so close in assists, rebounds and steals that it is almost a tie.

    Edge: 2000-01 Team

     

    Scoring Threats

    Duke's 2000-01 squad looked more like today's team in the fact that it had a ton of scoring threats on the perimeter.

    While Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon make up a great combo, the 2000-01 team had more depth, with Nate James, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Shane Battier and even freshman Chris Duhon combining for 52.0 points per game, as well as also racking up rebounds and assists.

    While you could argue that Battier should count as a big man instead of a perimeter scoring threat, his 41.9 percent shooting from three that year extended the defense and made him incredibly dangerous.

    Edge: 2000-01 Team

     

    Big Men

    The 2000-01 team was anchored inside by Carlos Boozer, whose 6'9" 280-pound frame allowed him to bully smaller defenders inside to the tune of 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

    When you throw in Battier's inside game as well, and combine him with Boozer you have a solid frontline, but it pales in comparison to that of Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    The Star

    It's tough to pick just one star for Duke on the 2000-01 team, but I would call Jason Williams that guy (even though there is a case to be made for Shane Battier, I believe that Williams' play at point guard was more important).

    Williams' 21.6 points, 6.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game made him one of the best guards in the country, while Plumlee's 18.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game make him the best player in the nation.

    However, Williams' versatility and ability to run the offense make this a close call.

    Edge: Even

     

    Verdict: 2000-01 Team by a solid margin

2012-13 Team Versus 2009-10 Team

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    Point Guard Play

    Jon Scheyer was considered the point guard for Duke in the 2009-10 season. In his senior year, Scheyer had to convert from a scoring guard to a point guard, and he handled the transition well.

    Averaging 18.2 points, 4.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game, Scheyer protected the ball, ranking fifth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

    Cook has similar or better numbers in every category except for scoring, but what really separates these two is the defense.

    Cook is a better athlete and has become a better on-ball defender. He is a true point guard compared to Scheyer's experience as a combo-guard, and that is what makes him the better player.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    Scoring Threats

    There might never have been a better triple-threat on the perimeter in Duke history than that of Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.

    While I already counted Scheyer as the point guard, he was still an unbelievable perimeter shooter, and these three guys combined for 53.3 points per game.

    Curry and Sulaimon are nice, but Duke fans would kill for the 2009-10 scorers back.

    Edge: 2009-10 Team

     

    Big Men

    The 2009-10 team might not have had the stars that today's team does, but the depth of the team was spectacular.

    Defensive specialist Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas combined inside to make up a fearsome combination, while solid play from Miles and Mason Plumlee made the team deep.

    The 2009-10 team lacked a true star, and because Plumlee and Kelly play so much of the game, I'm giving the edge to the present day version of Duke basketball.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    The Star

    Mason Plumlee versus Jon Scheyer.

    It can be very difficult to pick between a big man and a combo-guard at times because they change the game in different ways. Luckily for me, this isn't one of those cases.

    Plumlee is scoring just as much as Scheyer did, while anchoring an otherwise-shaky frontline. He is also playing excellent defense, and his 11.1 rebounds per game blow Scheyer's assists and rebounds out of the water.

    Edge: 2012-13 Team

     

    Verdict: 2012-13 Team by a healthy amount