Alright, kids, our earlier previews of Boston College and Clemson were warm ups. This week, we bring you the Duke Blue Devils.
If you're looking for an article spewing rivalrous Duke-hate, this isn't it. We've got more pressing matters. Right now, our job is to figure out how we're going to find enough superglue and poker chips, or whatever else is floating around, to "MacGuyver" a win against this team during the basketball season. Twice.
Now, as much as we want to see an epic shootout followed by an Orange victory (after which C.J. deadpans to Rak, "Leave the ball; take the Chipotle"), I'm telling you, that's just not going to happen.
C.J. knows better than to go near that stuff.
2012-2013 Record: 30-6 (14-4)
Conference Ranking: 2nd
Historical Notes: These teams have played four times, splitting the series 2-2. The first meeting, during the 1966 NCAA Tournament, featured the Bing-Boeheim backcourt. Though slightly off topic, coaches Boeheim and Krzyzewski have worked together at the international level on and off since 1990.
What they're known for: Winning. Coach K. Being experts at
flopping drawing offensive fouls. The Cameron Crazies. Slapping the floor on defense. Whining when someone does it to them. Shooting daggers from the perimeter. More winning.
Season Summary: Duke started off by beating Louisville to become the Battle 4 Atlantis preseason tournament champion, and didn't lose a game until senior Ryan Kelly suffered a foot injury. In the postseason, dreams of another ACC Tournament championship ended after a loss to Maryland in the quarterfinals.
Duke and Louisville met again, in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, but this time the Blue Devils fell. Hard. Sadly, that game is better known as the one that ended Kevin Ware's season, but I hear he's healing quite nicely.
Quinn Cook (11.7 PPG/3.8 RPG/5.3 APG). Teeny Little Super Guy is the "1" in the 1-2 punch that makes up the backcourt with Rasheed Sulaimon. At 6-1, he isn't a huge threat around the rim, but his sharp passing and perimeter shooting (39%) more than make up for that. For his efforts, he made the All ACC Third Team.
Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 PPG/3.4 RPG/1.9 APG). This guy is scary quick and highly skilled at both ends of the court, so landing on the All ACC Freshman Team surprised no one. He can shoot from anywhere, but seems to be developing quite the mid-range zone-killer to accompany his 37% from behind the arc.
Jabari Parker. If you've been living under a rock, Parker is the No. 2 ranked player in the class of 2013. Though technically a small forward, Duke's relatively small roster puts him at the 4. He's touted as an all-around offensive terror, especially from deep, so you can add him to the list of this team's perimeter guys.
Personnel Changes: The Blue Devils are down to just one Plumlee (Marshall) after losing 6-10 forward Mason Plumlee (17.1 PPG/10 RPG/1.9 APG) to graduation. The other departing seniors are 6-2 guard Seth Curry (17.5 PPG/2.5 RPG/1.5 APG) and 6-11 forward Ryan Kelly (12.9 PPG/5.3 RPG/1.7 APG).
Andre Dawkins (6-4, guard) returns after redshirting last year to handle a very personal tragedy. New additions include Mississippi State transfer, Rodney Hood, (6-8, forward) who sat out last year as required, as well as four freshmen: Jabari Parker (6-8 forward), Matt Jones (6-4, guard), Semi Ojeleye (6-7, forward), and walk-on, Nick Pagliuca (6-3, guard).
2013-2014 Potential: Per usual, the Blue Devils are going to be god-awful. None of the returning players have any skill, and they couldn't develop team chemistry if their lives depended on it. The incoming players won't help the situation because none of them are college-ready. They'll need some serious coaching before the season starts, and I don't know about you, but I have major doubts when it comes to Coach K's abilities in that regard. If only this were true...
Orange Match-Up: The Orange lost Brandon Triche, James "Sharpshooter" Southerland, and a 6-6 freak of a point guard, but the offense isn't dead. Well, neither is Duke's defense. The Blue Devils force one-on-one drives by clogging the passing lanes. To create options, Syracuse's post players set high ball screens, which allow the guards to shoot, drive, or drive-and-kick. The problem is that Duke will switch, putting a taller Blue Devil on a shorter Orange man. Syracuse needs to be quick and crisp, or they won't beat the switch and the options they created will disappear.
On defense, Syracuse needs to keep Duke in the half-court where the zone is most effective. Even then, it's hard to be effective against so many offensive weapons. Controlling
Smith and Siva Cook and Sulaimon won't be easy either, but I like Trevor Cooney here. Seriously, say what you want about his offense, but the guy's defense is rock solid. I can see him frustrating Sulaimon and making him work for everything.
I won't sugarcoat - this is going to be tough. If I know my boys, though, they'll head into these contests with energy, swag, and two goals: to chew bubblegum and kick some ass.
And we're all out of bubblegum. Gear up.