Duke Basketball: 5 Burning Questions for Blue Devils' Offseason
Can Duke advance past the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament next season? Will Jabari Parker outplay Andrew Wiggins when Duke and Kansas face off in November? Does Alex Murphy have what it takes to earn a regular spot in the rotation?
Duke fans are pondering all these questions over the painful period that is the offseason in college basketball.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to know the answers to any of these until we see the Blue Devils take the court next season. However, that doesn't prevent us from enjoying the speculation of what we hope the answers will be.
As we continue to look forward to next season, let's look at the five most burning questions for Duke's offseason.
5. What Can Andre Dawkins Provide This Team?
After spending last season redshirting and taking time away from the game of basketball to mourn the death of his sister, Andre Dawkins returns to the team as a fifth-year senior and potential impact player for the Blue Devils.
As a member of the 2010 national championship team, Dawkins brings valuable experience to a relatively young group and he has tremendous physical gifts.
When the 6'4" shooting guard plays with confidence, he has unlimited shooting range and the ability to make plays at the rim.
If Dawkins can come off the bench and average double-digit scoring for the Blue Devils, he'll provide this team with another dangerous dimension.
4. Can Quinn Cook Elevate His Play to Another Level?
No Duke player had a more disappointing 2013 NCAA tournament than Quinn Cook.
In four games, the sophomore point guard scored 23 points while shooting 7-of-32 from the field.
He also struggled mightily with stopping Louisville's Peyton Siva in Duke's final game of the season.
Now, Cook returns as one of the most experienced players on the team with the responsibility of distributing the ball on a team full of offensive weapons. His role as the distributor is part of why ESPN's Eamonn Brennan is calling him "Duke's key returnee."
If Mike Krzyzewski uses an up-tempo style, similar to what he did with the U.S. Olympic team, he will need his point guard to be able to push the ball and make plays in transition while staying under control.
Quinn Cook has shown the potential to do this in the past and Duke needs him to do it consistently next season.
3. Will Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood Be as Good as Advertised?
Even though he's slipped behind Wiggins as the top-ranked recruit in the country, Parker is still coming to Duke with an incredible amount of expectation and pressure.
Although Rodney Hood won't be facing as much pressure as Jabari Parker, Blue Devil fans are salivating at the opportunity to watch this versatile transfer from Mississippi State.
With teammates like Alex Murphy telling DukeChronicle.com he thinks Hood is "as good a player as there is in the country," many are excited to see what the 6'8" forward can do.
All the expectations have Duke fans optimistic, while the rest of the ACC should be worried.
2. Will Mike Krzyzewski Take Advantage of His Depth?
Despite having a team that could have used at least nine players last season, Mike Krzyzewski used a seven-man rotation in the NCAA tournament.
Unless there were foul or injury issues, players like Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy sat on the bench, which was frustrating to a lot of Duke fans. If Coach K uses another seven-man rotation next season, fans will become even more frustrated.
With a bench that will include Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston, Alex Murphy, Matt Jones, Marshall Plumlee and Semi Ojeleye, there is no reason why Duke can't have at least 10 players that earn regular minutes.
Depth has the potential to be one of the strengths of this team, if Krzyzewski uses it.
1. Is Duke Strong Enough in the Post?
The biggest question for the Blue Devils this offseason sits in the painted area on the court.
Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee were underrated for their post defense and now Duke will likely have to rely on young and inexperienced players to fill their roles.
Amile Jefferson showed great potential as a freshman but he needs to add some weight and learn to defend without fouling while Marshall Plumlee has yet to show he can stay healthy.
Duke could get a big lift regarding this question if they can acquire the services of Tarik Black, a 6'9", 260-pound transfer from Memphis. The Blue Devils are reportedly still in the running for Black, and he would be a valuable piece on the front line.