Duke Basketball: 2010-11 Preview

Charlie LiContributor IApril 20, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 21: Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks over Zack Novak #0 of the Michigan Wolverines on November 21, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It's official, Singler is back. Duke haters everywhere, prepare to suffer for another year.

According to many "experts," Duke is the preseason No. 1 and the favorite to win it all (again). I still think Michigan State is the favorite, since losing seniors Zoubek, Thomas, and Scheyer cannot be underestimated, but Duke's backcourt is unquestionably the best in the nation for 2010-2011.

Singler and fellow senior Nolan Smith are both potential All-Americans. Joining them will be the No. 1 point guard prospect in the nation, Kyrie Irving, who will lead the offense—which, by the way, will be MUCH faster paced this year. Long distance snipers Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins round out the ridiculous backcourt, and the athletic brothers Plumlee will return, presumably much improved, to cause havoc in the interior.  I anticipate many, many alley-oops from Irving to Plumlee (either one).

Just check out this depth chart:

C: Miles Plumlee, (Mason Plumlee)
PF: Mason Plumlee, Josh Hairston, Ryan Kelly
SF: Kyle Singler, Carrick Felix
SG: Nolan Smith, Andre Dawkins
PG: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Tyler Thornton

This team has all the weapons to be the run-and-gun, pressure defense, transition-oriented, high-scoring type of squad that Duke has traditionally seen. There is enough quality talent here for the team to go 10 deep, although I expect Coach K to shave the rotation down to eight or nine by March.

Although this team will be very different from last year's championship squad in terms of playing style, it is similar in that the experience is there. My projected starting lineup includes two seniors, a junior, and a sophomore, all four of whom return from a championship campaign. Kyrie Irving doesn't really count as a freshman, since his game will translate immediately, and he will play as though he is an upperclassman.

There should be no questions about athleticism this time around, as this will be the most athletic Duke team since 2002. Everyone on the team can run the floor and finish at the rim. Duke fans can look forward to the most exciting squad we've seen since Jason Williams ran the point.

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