As the start of the 2013-14 season draws closer, the Duke Basketball program is preparing to make another potential run to a Final Four and national championship.
With an exciting combination of returning talent and newcomers full of potential, it should be an exciting season for Duke basketball.
If the Blue Devils are to reach their full potential this season, it will require each player to meet certain individual goals and fulfill important roles for the team.
The following slideshow looks at the biggest goal for each projected starter for Duke.
With the weapons he’ll have around him, Quinn Cook is basically being handed the keys to a Ferrari.
Duke’s lack of a true big man and wealth of talented wing players means Mike Krzyzewski will likely try to push the tempo and wear down most teams.
Quinn Cook will serve as the catalyst for creating that tempo.
He’s had two years to mature as a point guard and gained valuable experience last season as a starter. Now, he needs to emerge as the leader in the starting lineup who controls the game and establishes the pace at which the Blue Devils want to play.
Rasheed Sulaimon had some outstanding moments last season and nearly won the ACC Freshman of the Year award. He finished as the runner-up to Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan.
As good as he was, there were still many games when Sulaimon looked like a freshman, and his offense would completely disappear.
Now that he’s had a year to mature and improve, Sulaimon needs to put those freshman cold-slumps behind him. He can’t let one missed shot turn into a bad shooting night, and he needs to stay confident in his offensive ability.
When he plays well, Sulaimon is one of the best guards in the country. The key for him this season will be to play well on a regular basis.
Duke fans have been hearing about Rodney Hood’s athletic ability for the past year.
He was unable to play for the Blue Devils last season due to NCAA transfer rules, but there were reports that he was one of the best players in Duke’s practices and other coaches speak very highly of him.
Hood could face a transition as he adjusts to playing for Duke, but he needs to be assertive and confident in his athletic ability and attack when he’s on the court.
The Blue Devils have enough depth at the wing positions to where Hood can afford to take some risks on both ends of the court and his unique skills could help pay big dividends.
Whether it’s aggressively denying passing lanes on defense or attacking the basket in transition, Hood is the type of player who can overwhelm the opposition.
Jabari Parker enters this season with an enormous amount of pressure because of the hype he received as a high school recruit.
He’s expected to immediately be one of the best players in the ACC, and many people already think he’ll be a top pick in next year’s NBA draft. With all of the attention he’ll be receiving, it would be easy for Parker to try to do too much and force things if Duke ever finds itself in a difficult spot.
He doesn’t need to worry about this.
His play will speak for itself, and he doesn’t need to try to be all things for all people. He also doesn’t need to worry about the comparisons with Andrew Wiggins that will inevitably occur throughout the year.
The Blue Devils have plenty of talent and depth, which means Jabari Parker needs to simply continue to play the way he always has and help his team win.
Amile Jefferson will have a huge role for the Blue Devils if he emerges as the team’s fifth starter once the season begins.
He’s battling for the starting role with Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee, but let’s assume Jefferson wins the spot.
With the other talented scorers Duke will have on the floor, Jeffferson’s primary role will be to provide strong interior defense and rebounding. He showed great potential in both areas last season as a freshman, and he’s reportedly had a great offseason, building his strength and improving his skills.
Though he’s undersized at 6’8”, his length makes him a legitimate presence in the post, and this appears to be a season where the ACC lacks any true dominant big men.