Duke Aims for the NCAA Title This Year: Who Will Start and Who Will Sit
With DeAndre Daniels finally picking a school (UCONN), the true and blue Duke Blue Devils fans can start looking forward to next season with great anticipation.
The roster is set.
While there are still a few questions about who will start and what kind of lineup Coach K will go with, we can already start to see which direction he is heading.
So here it is for all you Cameron Crazies out there:
Your 2011-2012 Duke Blue Devils!
Newest Addition: Jeff Capel
The former Duke assistant and head coach of VCU and Oklahoma is coming home this season to be a part of the Duke coaching staff.
He will be serving in the position that was held by Nate James last season.
Coach Capel brings valuable experience to the team, as well as a proven recruiting record.
We're glad to have you back, Coach!
Zafirovski on the left, Mayer on the right.
These are the guys who put their heart and soul into every practice and help make our stars better. Three of my all-time favorite Dukies were walk-ons: Steve Johnson, Casey Peters and Jordan Davidson.
I love it even more because these guys could easily get a basketball scholarship to a smaller school, but instead, they are pursuing their dreams to play for the Duke University Blue Devils. Bravo.
And here they are:
F/C Todd Zafirovski 6'9", 235 Junior
Todd is a hard nosed player who works hard every offseason to get toned and ready to give the stars everything they can handle in practice. His high school basketball team was loaded with D-I basketball players and even saw action in a few games last year. A former practice player, he earned his way onto the team in December of 2009.
G David Mayer 6'4," 195 Sophomore
A local product from Durham, David is another feel-good story about a player who followed a childhood dream of playing for the Blue Devils. Like Todd, David was voted onto the team. He officially joined in mid-December 2010.
The Lone Senior: Miles Plumlee
F/C Miles Plumlee 6'10", 245-Senior
Every day, I think about how grateful I am that Miles Plumlee switched his commitment from Stanford to Duke when he was a senior in high school. I can't believe that was four years ago.
The oldest Plumlee brother looks to throw down some more thunderous dunks this year and finish off his career with another championship.
While he doesn't have the upside or massive wingspan of his younger brothers, he is the most polished and provides the best fundamentals of the three of them.
The All-Important Junior Class
Seth and Mason
G/F Andre Dawkins 6'5", 205-Junior
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Andre Dawkins because he graduated high school a year early so he could help out Duke's guard situation after Elliott Williams transferred to Memphis.
Andre is tough guard who plays the typical top-notch Duke defense. He has a great shot and three-point range. If Coach K decides to go with a small-ball lineup, expect to see Dawkins spending a lot of time at small forward
F/C Mason Plumlee 6'10", 240-Junior
After briefly flirting with the NBA draft, Mason decided to come back for one more year. He not only looks forward to winning another title, but also to play with his two brothers, Miles and Marshal.
Mason is our most athletic big man and probably possesses the most potential. His elite athleticism has NBA scouts drooling; now he just has to improve his horrid FT% and pick up a go-to move in the post.
G Seth Curry 6'2", 180 Junior-Redshirt
A long time ago, he was known as Dell Curry's son. Then, he became Steph Curry's little brother. But the transfer from Liberty showed us last year that he is simply Seth Curry.
Seth is a wirey player who will dive for every loose ball. His three-point range is typical of his family's pedigree, and he has proven to be fearless (remember when he got in Derrick Williams' face?). Seth should get plenty of minutes this year, splitting his time between both guard positions.
F Ryan Kelly 6'11", 235-Junior
When his game is on, its on.
Ryan Kelly has a polished offensive game that extends to the three point line. He has gone entire games without missing a shot, but also had a few where he didn't make any.
Ryan added about 15 lbs. of muscle last offseason, and I expect similar results this season. Coach K loves to line him up opposite of one of the Plumlee's at power forward, so he should be our offensive leader in the post this year.
Sophmores, No Slump
Josh and Tyler, before their freshman year, on the AAU circuit.
F Joshua Hairston 6'7", 210-Sophomore
At first glance, you may think Hairston is a small forward, but this kid is a true power forward. Coming out of high school, he was highly touted (top 20, according to ESPNU), but he didn't get much time last season, which I hope changes this year. I personally think he would've done a much better job guarding Derrick Williams during the tournament than anyone else did.
Hairston has a great motor and plays tough man-to-man defense. He has a good shot out to about 16 feet and can play with his back to the basket. His rebounding prowess and unselfish attitude should get him onto the court this year.
G Tyler Thornton 6'1" 185-Sophomore
Tyler Thornton is my favorite Blue Devil. There it is. I said it.
But with all aside, any Duke fan will love what he brings to the table. Tyler is a fearless defender who never backs down from competition. He may be our best defensive guard, and he does possess a pass-first mentality on offense.
His strengths fit perfectly with the strengths of Austin Rivers and Seth Curry. He may prove to be the best running mate/compliment for their star guards.
G Austin Rivers 6'5", 180-Freshman - 5 Star Recruit - McDonald's AA
The jewel of the 2011 high school class, Austin Rivers is hoping to lead the Blue Devils back to the national championship. The recently self-dubbed "Subzero" does have ice water in his veins and possesses one of the finest shots you'll find. The only down fall to his game is that he'll only be here for one season.
G Quinn Cook 6'0", 155-Freshman - 4 Star Recruit - McDonald's AA
A true leader with the ability to create for himself or others, Quinn is a kid with an exceptionally high basketball I.Q. He is the type of player Coach K loves to bring in and let take over once he's done his fair share of watching/learning.
G/F Michael Gbinije 6'7", 180-Freshman - 4 Star Recruit
Another smart, safe pick for Coach K, Gbinije doesn't have one skill that will overwhelm you on the next level, but he does everything right. Considered to be a top 30 recruit, he should be in Durham for four years and be a major contributor for at least three of them.
F Alex Murphy 6'8", 180-Freshman - 4 Star Recruit - Enrolled a year early
Once rated a top five recruit for the class of 2012, Alex Murphy graduated this summer and signed an LOI to play for Duke this year. Alex has great upside athleticism, and versatility. His shot is right on out to about 21 feet. His older brother should start for Florida's basketball team this year, although there has been some talk of Alex redshirting.
C Marshall Plumlee 7'0", 215-Freshman - 4 Star Recruit - McDonald's AA
The final Plumlee brother, Marshall is a very tall, very athletic big who loves to win. I'm not sure how much time he'll see this year, but he has the potential to be the best Plumlee of all. His offensive game is pretty much just dunks and put backs and needs a whole lot of polishing. Weight is another concern. All that being said, Marshall is an exciting player who has shown the proper work ethic to continue improving.
The Line Ups
Will Coach K go small? Or will he put his trust in freshmen Michael Gbinije and Alex Murphy? It all remains to be seen at this point.
One thing is for certain, though: Duke has a lot of talent and looks to bring the national championship back to Durham, NC...where it belongs.
Small Line Up
C- Mason -> Miles -> Marshall
PF- Kelly -> Hairston -> Zafirovski
SF- Dawkins -> Gbinije -> Murphy
SG- Rivers -> Thornton -> Mayer
PG- Curry -> Cook
Big Line Up
C- Mason -> Miles -> Marshall
PF- Kelly -> Hariston -> Zafirovski
SF- Gbinije -> Murphy
SG- Rivers -> Dawkins -> Mayer
PG- Curry -> Thornton -> Cook