Two minutes. Jon Scheyer made a three-pointer after two fast paced hard fought minutes. Two minutes later, Purdue finally scored when Chris Kramer final hit a jumper to make the game 7-2. It would seem that the Boilermakers were a little to hyped to play Duke Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
In the second half Purdue had another scoring draught of over four minutes and if JaJuan Johnson had not scored eight points in a row, Purdue would have not scored until 10:48 left in the game when E’Twaun Moore hit a jumper.
In the match-up of star 6’8” sophomore forwards, Duke’s Kyle Singler out-played Purdue’s preseason Big-Ten player of the Year candidate, Robbie Hummel. Even if the stat lines don’t look as such.
I must admit, even as a Dukie, I did not buy into Singler until a few games into the season. Working hard over the summer to add 10 pounds of muscle, Singler looks the part of a McDonalds All-American. And the game at Purdue furthered my belief that he can lead and make playes in big games when needed.
Coaches will say that no game is more important than any other. That’s crap. And you get see the evidence all over the court Tuesday night. Players were diving for loose balls, attempting to take charges, giving hard fouls. Even Singler seemed to be amped up for Duke’s first real test of the season.
Singler finished the evening with 20 points and 12 rebounds – six offense – and hit shots when his team needed them. Singler was all over the place with hustle plays and guarded Hummel and did not allow any east shots.
Hummel was completely invisible until halfway through the second half and then he ended with 15 points and 8 rebounds. But his play did not affect the game nearly as much as Singler. For that matter, all Purdue players games did not affected the out come as much as Singler as Purdue looked rushed in their offense and over-matched by Duke’s talent.
I have never been on to beleieve that stats alone can tell the whole story of a game. Well, Tuesday night it certainly did. Two key stats showed how lopsided this game truly was; Duke out rebounded Purdue 43 to 26. And the Boilermakers shoot 2 for 13 from the three point line and Duke shoot 8 for 22. Schyer also finished with 20 points.
Colt – 45
Ralph Sampson’s kid is coming to Minnesota. Tubby Smith had instantly proved his importance to the Gopher Nation as Sampson highlighted the 23rd best recruiting class in the country, but there was another tall post player who was a part of the recruiting class. And that player has started all seven games and Tuesday night in the Gophers toughest game this season, he had the best game of his short career.
The 6’10” 235-pound Colton Iverson came in to his senior his under the radar in Yankton, South Dakota. Not many people knew who he was and even fewer knew less about his game.
Iverson stock rose to be ranked among Top 150 recruits after a strong senior season when he averaged 17.5 ppg, 12.9 rpg and 2.7 blocks and a summer where his AAU team won the Hoosier Shootout and he won the tourney’s MVP. His stock so much that even Billy Donavan and the Florida Gators were interested.
In the Minnesota’s win against Virginia, the Gophers looked for Iverson on offense and he responding finishing 5 for 6 from the floor, 4 for 6 from the foul line for 14 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and four of which were offensive.
Iverson altered more shots than he blocked (2) but along with Ralph Sampson and Damian Johnson, the Gophers frontcourt finished with seven blocks, 14 rebounds and 20 points. Compared to the four best Cavalier post players who had 11 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.
Miami’s Jack McClinton’s best shot of the night? After starting off the game 4-4 from distance, McClinton took a shot at Ohio States guard Anthony Carter and slapped Carter in the face. After a quick conference with the refs, McClinton was ejected. Ohio State won 73-68.
The Memphis Tigers blew out the Marist Red Foxes 100-61. Here is the stat-line for Memphis guard Tyreke Evans: 10 for 13 from the floor, 2 for 4 from behind the arc, 2 for 6 from the chariot stripe – weak, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and 24 points. Marist was tough.
In the same “why the hell are you playing each other” vein, Notre Dame beat South Dakota 102-76. Notre Dame’s Randy Ayers finished with 35 points, 6 rebounds, shot 9 for 14 from distance and 12 for 20 from the field.
New Jersey Institute of Technology lost again. Stony Brook outscored the Highlanders, 60-39.
By the end of the Tuesday the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was all tied-up at 3-3.
The first full night of games in featuring my two favorite conferences and here are my picks.
Tuesday, Dec. 2
Duke at Purdue – Duke wins 85-79
Clemson at Illinois – Clemson wins 68 – 58
Ohio State at Miami – OSU wins 75 – 70
Virginia at Minnesota – Minn wins 70 – 64
Iowa at Boston College – BC wins 80 – 62
Wisconsin beat Virginia Tech on a last second shot by Trevon Hughes to give the Big Ten a “commanding” 1-0 lead over the ACC. Check here for a ESPN’s recap and highlights.
Tonight is No. 4 Duke at No. 10 Purdue in a game I will watch with anticipation. I will recap that game and the Ohio State at Miami game or Virginia at Minnesota for Fox tomorrow.
Here is the complete schedule and not all games out on TV.
Monday, Dec. 1
Wisconsin at Virginia Tech
Tuesday, Dec. 2
Duke at Purdue
Clemson at Illinois
Ohio State at Miami
Virginia at Minnesota
Iowa at Boston College
Wednesday, Dec. 3
North Carolina vs. Michigan State (from Ford Field)
Indiana at Wake Forest
Michigan at Maryland
Florida State at Northwestern
Penn State at Georgia Tech
Freshmen of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
All-ACC First Team
G Ty Lawson, UNC
G Jack McClinton, Miami
G James Johnson, Wake Forest
F Gerald Hernderson, Duke
C Tyler Hansbrough, UNC
All-ACC Second Team
G Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G K.C. Rivers, Clemson
G Wayne Ellingson, UNC
F Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F Kyle Singler, Duke
G Jon Scheyer, Duke, F Danny Green, UNC, G James Dews, Miami, G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland, F Rakim Sanders, BC, G Lewis Clinch, GT, F Trevor Booker and G Terrance Oglesby, Clemson, G A.D. Vassallo and F Jeff Allen, VT
North Carolina Tarheels
Head Coach: Roy Williams
2007-08 Recap: 36-3 (14-2 ACC)
Key Losses: C 6’9” Alex Stepheson, G 6’3” Quentin Thomas
Key Additions: G 6’1” Larry Drew, F 6’10” Ed Davis, C 7’0” Tyler Zeller
G Ty Lawson 5‘11” Jr. 12.7 ppg, 5.2 apg
G Wayne Wllingson 6’4” Jr. 16.6 ppg, 4.5 apg
F Marcus Ginyard 6‘4” Sr. 6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Deon Thompson 6’8” So. 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Tyler Hansbourgh 6’9” Sr. 22.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg
Tyler Hansbourgh came back to complete the mission. After winning every award and it being announced that his jersey will be retired at UNC, Hansbourgh could cement himself as one of the greatest college players ever.
Even at only 5’11”, there is no more important player on this team then Ty Lawson. While Hansbourgh gets the accolades, it is Lawson that drives this team. When he was out a handful of games last season, UNC looked slow and uncomfortable in their offense.
Smooth shooter Wayne Ellingson is the Tarheel’s first option on the perimeter. While shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, Ellington will have to focus on defensive.
Marcus Ginyard is the defensive stopper and has guard most players from point to power forward.
The Tarheels are expecting improvement from Deon Thompson. After Alex Stepheson transferred, Thompson’s play must become more consistent.
Sixth man extraordinaire, Danny Green even though he is the only player off the bench that provides double digit scoring, it is his hustle and defense are what make him a Carolina favorite.
In the backcourt the Tarheels have experience at back-up in Bobby Frasier and we should see Larry Drew III as the “point guard in training” to replace Lawson when he leaves.
The freshmen forwards each have their specialty; Ed Davis is the rebounder and Tyler Zeller is the shooter. They bring in added height and depth to a rather short frontcourt.
Roy Williams has to be pacing in anticipation of the 2008-09 season. The Tarheels roster is stuffed full of talent and the expectations are higher that they have been since Williams has been on the UNC bench.
If there is a weakness one this team, it is that they are not a very tall team. There two tallest players are incoming freshmen Davis and Zeller, neither are going to be expected to add much more than five fouls and garbage time. Drew could see some time if Lawson gets hurt.
The only thing that could keep the Tarheels from bring the championship back to Raleigh would be injury – and a couple good teams!
Duke Blue Devils
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2007-08 Recap: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)
Key Losses: G 6’4” DeMarcus Nelson, F 6’6” Taylor King
Key Additions: G 6’4” Elliot Williams, F 6’1” Miles Plumlee, F 6’8” Olek Cryz
G Nolen Smith 6‘2” So. 5.9 ppg, 1.3 apg
G Jon Scheyer 6’5” Jr. 11.7 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Gerald Henderson 6‘4” So. 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Kyle singler 6’8” So. 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Lance Thomas 6’8” Jr. 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
At 6’4” he is the Duke player the takes the jump ball at tip-off. Gerald Henderson is a phenomenal athlete, and his basketball game is finally catching-up. At times he is flash of the best player in the ACC and then other moments he is completely invisible. Henderson must find a personal comprise and also find ways, in the offense, to get his shots.
Sophomore guard Nolen Smith was declared the started my Coach K just a couple weeks ago. Smith is a budding offensive threat and a much better defender than people give him credit.
After living in the sixth man role for two years, Jon Scheyer gets the chance in the starting line-up. When he first came to Durham he was known as a distance shooter, but his game has evolved and is really a threat from anywhere on the floor.
Kyle Singler added twenty pounds of muscle to his wiry frame, which should help in the post. Teams must be track of him everywhere he goes on the court. He is a solid post scorer, good outside shooter, and is the main weapon in the screen and pop. His defense will be an issue as he will be match-up with bigger post players, depending on how is in the line-up for Duke.
The second forward or center spot is a tossup right now. Lance Thomas started last season, but he very well could be plucked from the line-up for 6’10” Miles Plumlee or 7’1” Brian Zoubek. No matter the decision, the three of them will be need for added muscle along with David McClure. Olek Cryz can get off the floor and thinks every shot should be a dunk.
Greg Paulus is going to play his begin his senior off the bench after starting since his freshmen year. Don’t let this fool you, he will split minutes with Smith and whoever is having the better game, will be in at the end. He is deadly from distance and is the most experienced player on the roster.
McDonald’s All-American Elliot Williams is explosive. He has the handle off a point guard and is not afraid to get to the basket. Finding him minutes is a must, but where. This season he will back-up Scheyer and Henderson – and then next season start in place of Henderson.
Since Josh McRoberts left a few seasons ago, Duke has been thin on the front line. But this season, Coach K actually has options. While all the offense will flow through Singler, there are many bodies to help with defense and rebounding.
Even though Duke lives by the three, the new distance will not hurt them. Most of their guys stood five feet behind the old line.
Caoch K will have this team play is signature pressure defense and but will look to find different ways to get all the players to their full potential on offense.
Head Coach: Frank Haith
2007-08 Recap: 23-11 (13-3 ACC)
Key Losses: C 6’9” Anthony King, F 6’7” Raymond Hicks
Key Additions: F 6‘6” Fr. DeQuan Jones, F 6‘9” Fr. Cyrus McGowan
G Lance Hudle 6‘2” Sr. 8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Jack McClinton 6’2” Sr. 17.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
G James Dews 6‘3” So. 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Brian Asbury 6’7” Sr. 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F/C Dwayne Collins 6’9” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Who was the biggest impact player in the ACC not playing for a team in the Carolinas? That would be Jack McClinton. 6’1” he is a major threat from deep, is very capable of getting to the foul line and then shooting over 91 percent when he gets there, and is confident in the clutch. After considering jumping the NBA, McClinton came back to Miami and his stock should rise, along with the amount of wins for this team.
Super quick point guard Lance Hurdle is one of four key seniors on this team. Along with McClinton the offense starts with Hurdle. Hurdle must improve on his ability to deliver passes to the open shooter. Averaging only 2.4 apg with scorers like McClinton and James Dews, is ridiculous. Hurdle needs to connect to the rest of the offense in the natural flow of the offense to get easy and open shots.
James Dews is the last guard in this three-headed monster. He also shots over 90 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from the field. While he might have the stats of McClinton, he must elevate his game if this team wants to succeed.
Brain Asbury, another experienced senior for the Canes, should start at the beginning of the season. But Asbury has sixth man written all over him for the long of the season.
At 6’9”, Dwayne Collins is one of three players at that height. The Canes are not tall, but they take up space. He is a tough defender, great leaper, solid rebounder – especially on the offensive end – and can score on the block.
Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is the most likely new face to compete for a starting spot.
Sophomore guard Eddie Rios is a starter in training and is a stellar ball-handler to take over next season
McQuan Jones will see plenty of playing time at the 3 spot. He is a very talented recruit and is the cornerstone for the future.
When would you have thought that the University of Miami would have a basketball team that has higher expectations that is football team?
Coach Haith knows that he is about to turn Miami from a cellar dweller to a top five ACC program.
Miami has talented pieces on offense, but it was their defense that was second in the ACC. If they can keep that a focus while getting a lift from the newcomers to the roster, this team should be ranked all season and make some of those Carolina teams very upset.
5. Wake Forrest
6. Virginia Tech
7. Georgia Tech
8. Boston College
10. North Carolina Sate
11. Florida State
2007-08 Recap: 24-10 (4-12 ACC)
G Demontez Stitt 6‘2” So. 8.8ppg, 3.0 apg
G Terrance Oglesby 6’2” So. 10.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg
F K.C. Rivers 6‘5” Sr. 14.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg
F Trevor Booker 6’7” Jr. 11 ppg, 7.3 rpg
C Raymond Sykes 6’9” Sr. 4.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg
What a year for the Clemson Tigers. They finished the regular season in third place in the ACC, beat Duke in the ACC tournament and lost to UNC by only five points in the championship game.
Conference Rank: 5
Wake Forrest Demon Deacons
2007-08 Recap: 17-13 (7-9 ACC)
G Ishmael Smith 6‘0” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 4.7 apg
G Jeff Teague 6’2” So. 13.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
F Al-Farouq Aminu 6‘9” Fr. 23.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg *High School Stats
F James Johnson 6’8” So. 14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg
C Chas McFarland 7’0” Jr. 8.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg
This team is very tough to feel out. The Demon Deacons are obviously talented, but how are they as a team?
Conference Rank: 6
Virginia Tech Hokies
2007-08 Recap: 21-14 (9-7 ACC)
G Malcolm Delaney 6‘3” So. 9.6 ppg, 3.1 apg
G A.D. Vassallo 6’6” Sr. 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F J.T. Thompson 6‘6” So. 5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F Jeff Allen 6’7” So. 11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg
C Cheick Diakite 6’9” Sr. 1.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Jeff Greenberg will not have the most athletic team in the ACC, but has some very good “basketball” pieces. He just has to complete the puzzle, by finding the right mix if players.
Conference Rank: 7
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Head Coach: Paul Hewwitt
2007-08 Recap: 15-17 (7-9 ACC)
Key Additions: G – 6-4 Fr. Iman Shumpert, F/C – 6-9 Sr. Bassirou Dieng
G – Maurice Miller So. 6-1 8.1ppg, 3.3 apg
G – Lewis Clinch Sr. 6-3 9 ppg, 1.9 rpg
F – D’Andre Bell Sr. 6-5 6.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg
F – Gani Lawal So. 6-8 7.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F – Zack Peacock Jr. 6-8 9.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
42.3 points per game and 19.4 rebounds are gone and so is the last player from the 2004 Final Four Team. The Yellow Jackets still have plenty of depth and experience to make-up the difference.
Lewis Clinch is the leading returning scorer from last season who came off the bench. Clinch will have to do more than just shot to stay on the court, his defense is a well known issue.
The front court lost a lot of talent, but will have enough left over to be competitive. D’Andre Bell is the team’s defensive stopper and will not be ask to do much more than that.
A pair of 6-8 forwards will be the focus of the teams low-post attack. Zack Peacock should be a double-double threat every game and will take the leadership role. Gani Lawal will give the Yellow Jackets a mismatch with his length and athletic ability.
Senior forward 6-10 Alade Aminu will see plenty of time backing-up both big men and McDonald’s All-American freshman guard Iman Shumpert will see minutes doing the same for the guards.
It is rare for a team to have so much of their production gone and yet still have a team that will compete. I would expect Paul Hewitt’s team to struggle defensively in the early part of the season, but should be able to put points on the board. The Yellow Jackets have a even mix of veterans and talented youngsters and this year should build momentum for next year. Even if they don’t make the NCAA Tournament.
Conference Rank: 8
Boston College Eagles
Head Coach: Al Skinner
2007-08 Recap: 14-17 (4-12 ACC)
Key Additions: F – 6-8 So. Joe Trapani, G – 6-3 Fr. Reggie Jackson, G – 6-5 Fr. Dallas Elmore
G – Biko Paris 6-1 So. 5.7ppg, 2.9 apg
G – Tyrese Rice 6-1 Sr. 21 ppg, 5.0 apg
F – Rakim Sanders 6-5 So. 11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F – Joe Trapani 6-8 So. 11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg
C – Josh Southern 6-10 So. 5.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
The recent glory days of Craig Smith and Jared Dudley seem so long ago. Tyrese Rice came to Boston with All-Americans in front of him and know he is a senior and he as a lot talent being him. But Rice is the undeniable leader.
Biko Paris showed last season he is capable of being a point guard in the ACC. With the Paris running the point, Rice will be able to run off picks to get open shots.
After a up and down freshmen season, Rakim Sanders is set for a break out sophomore season. And if the Eagles want to make any noise in the ACC, he will need to be more consistent.
Big man Josh Southern will see more playing time and might just pan out to be a high quality big man. To do that, he needs to stay out of foul trouble.
Vermont transfer Joe Trapani will bring some toughness around the basket and will be asked to do more scoring than Southern. Junior Tyler Roche must help out on the glass the same way he is able to provide long range shooting and scoring.
Rice will get scoring help from Sanders and he will get help with ball handling from Paris. But don’t expect everything to be nice and balanced at all times. The offense will still depend on Rice. The Eagles a step closer to returning to the “glory days” than they were last season, but the NIT looks like a strong possibility.
Conference Rank: 9
Head Coach: Gary Williams
2007-08 Recap: 19-15 (8-8 ACC)
Key Additions: G – 6-4 Fr. Sean Mosley, F – 6-8 Fr. Jin Soo Kim (waiting approval)
G – Greivis Vasquez 6-6 Jr. 17 ppg, 6.8 apg
G – Eric Hayes 6-4 Jr. 9.9 ppg, 4.5 apg
G – Landon Milbourne 6-7 So. 8.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F – Jerome Burney 6-9 So. 1.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg
C – Braxton Dupree 6-8 So. 2.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg
At 6-6 Greivis Vasquez was an interesting match-up at point guard for most teams last season, but he will not play the point as much as this season. The ACC assist leader is an emotional roller coaster and this team better hang-on.
Eric Hayes, the second highest returning scorer after Vasquez, will take on a larger scoring load and will be the primary ball handler.
The Terrapins lost their two best post players in James Gist and Bambale Osby. Trying to find suitable replacements will be difficult. Braxton Dupree will be the first option for Maryland, if he can control is weight. Jerome Burney, one time Miami signee, played only 7.4 minutes a game and did not give him much to prove himself. He will have a chance this year.
Maryland will run a three guard offense with Landon Milbourne as the big guard. Shooting 39% is a decent start for him and hopes are he will get better as he gets more looks.
The wild card in the whole mix is Jin Soo Kim. This South Korean is an athletic player that could potentially play 3 positions, if the NCAA Clearinghouse allows. If approved, Kim would add minutes and scoring off the bench and make a push to the starting line-up.
This season could be Gary Williams last. 2002 seems like a lifetime ago and the Terrapins have only made the NCAA Tournament three out of the last six seasons. Much of this team’s success falls on Vasquesz and how Williams decides to use him. Keeping at the point is not productive when he does not have proven options to pass to. Look for him to be off the ball more and Hayes to initiate the offense. The big men need to prove themselves, because next season’s recruits will challenge from day one.
The Atlantic Coastal Conference is always in the argument of which conference plays the best basketball. And rightfully so. With schools such as; UNC, Duke, Wake Forrest, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Clemson, Maryland and Florida State, the ACC houses many good teams and a number of NBA prospects that reside on the East Coast.
I will take a look at the ACC in four groups – in each group I will give a snapshot of three schools and preview their teams. I will start with the bottom three and work are way up to
North Carolina – we all know they are the best.
Once we have finished our team preview, I will give you my All ACC-Team as well as my predictions for the individual awards.
The Bottom Three
Conference Rank: 10
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Head Coach: Sydney Lowe
2007-08 Record: 15-16 (4-12 ACC)
Key Losses: F – 6-8 J.J Hickson, F – 6-8 Gavin Grant
Key Additions: G – 6-2 Fr. Julius Mays , F – 6-5 Fr. C.J. Williams
G – Courtney Fells Sr. 6-6 10.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg
G – Tracy Smith Jr. 6-5 3.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg
F – Brandon Costner Jr. 6-9 8.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F – Ben McCauley Sr. 6-9 6.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Conference Rank: 11
Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton
Key Losses: G – 6-3 Jason Rich, G – 6-3 Ralph Mims, G – 6-2 Isaiah Swann, F/C – 6-10 Julain Vaighn, F – 6-7 Matt Zitani
Key Additions: F – 6-9 Fr. Chris Singleton, G – 6-5 Fr. Luke Loucks, F – 6-4 So. Derwin kitchen
G – Toney Douglas Sr. 6-1 15.4 ppg, 2.8 apg
G – Derwin Kitchen So. 6-4
F – Chris Singleton Fr. 6-4
F – Uche Echefu Sr. 6-8 10 ppg, 7.3 rpg
C – Solomon Alabi Fr. 7-1 3.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Everyone jump on Toney Douglas’ shoulders. Having lost 42 points a game and 15 rebounds a game, the Seminoles will need Douglas to lead this team and up his 15 ppg.
Rebuilding? Yes. Time to abandon ship? Not yet. This Florida State team will win a couple games and should give a game to the teams at the top of the conference. Do not wait for them to make a run into the NCAA tournament, but should settle back nicely into the NIT. The only way to go is up for FSU.
Head Coach: Dave Leitao
Key Losses: G – 6-0 Sean Singletary, F – 6-7 Adrian Joseph, F – 6-8 Laurynas Mikalauskas
Key Additions: G – 6-6 Fr. Sylven Landesberg, C – 7-0 Fr. Assane Sene, C – 6-11 Fr. John Brandenburg
G – Jeff Jones Sr. 6-4 4.8 ppg,
G – Sammy Zeglinski Fr. 6-0 8.6 ppg, 2.3 apg
F – Mamadi Diane Sr. 6-5 11.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg
F – Mike Scott So. 6-8 5.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
F – Jamil Tucker Jr. 6-8 5.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
The Virginia Caviliers will rely heavily on freshmen to support Mamadi Diane as he takes over the leadership role left by Sean Singletary. Diane’s scoring will no doubt increase with more shots that will come his way.
The Cavs only won 5 ACC games with Sean Singletary. What are they going to do with out him? I am hoping that the team will lift it’s game to make-up the production void left by the star – like Texas did when Kevin Durant left. You know what I mean – I do not expect them to break .500, but could play the spoiler. This team is young and will be experimenting with tatics and variations of line-ups to help solidify next season.
Some of those same questions apply to the 2008-09 season.
Duke lost its leading scorer and rebounder from last season in DeMarcus Nelson to the NBA and 6’6” freshmen Taylor King transferred to Villanova. But the Blue Devils brought in the 23rd rank recruiting class, headlined by McDonalds All-American guard Elliot Williams.
2007-08 Recap Record: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)
Postseason: NCAA Tournament – Lost in 2nd Round to West Virginia 73-67
Points per game: G – DeMarcus Nelson – 14.5
Rebounds per game: G – DeMarcus Nelson and F – Kyle Singler– 5.8
Assists per game: G – Greg Paulus – 3.2
Key Players Out
DeMarcus Nelson 14.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 2.9 apg, and 1.5 steals pg
Taylor King 5.5 ppg, 2 rpg, 38% 3pt
Key Returning Players
Kyle Singler 13.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Gerald Henderson 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 blocks pg
Jon Scheyer 11.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 steals pg, 38% 3pt
Greg Paulus 11.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg, 42% 3pt
Nolan Smith 5.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 39% 3pt
Key Players In
Olek Czyz F 6-7 240 Freshman Reno, Nevada Reno
Miles Plumlee F 6-10 220 Freshman Warsaw, Indiana Christ School (NC)
Elliot Williams G 6-4 180 Freshman Memphis, Tennessee St. George’s
The Duke front court could be separated into two groups; Kyle Singler and everyone else. The expectations and skill set for the two groups will be vastly different. Singler will carry the majority of shots and scoring for the frontcourt, while the other group will focus on defense and rebounding.
2007-08 ACC Rookie of the Year Singler, leads a very thin and inexperienced front line for the Blue Devils. Singler showed leadership and the ability to play in the ACC last season, but needs to become a better defender and shot blocker if he wants to lead Duke to the Final Four.
6’8” Junior Lance Thomas started 28 games last season, and is this most experienced front court player on the roster, and will compete for the starting spot. He is athletic and plays tough defense and, like Singler, will guard players taller than him.
David McClure is the only other player that saw meaningful minutes last season. He might be pushed closer to the end of the bench by Plumlee and Czyz, but when he comes in, he bring the typical Duke tenacity.
Unlike the frontcourt, the backcourt has a wealth of talent that is able to do everything. Greg Paulus has been in the starting line-up since early his freshmen year and Coach K will put the ball in the senior’s hands again this season. Look for Paulus to increasing his scoring through an even better selection.
If there is a Duke player on the verge of breaking out this season, it is junior G/F Gerald Henderson. With Nelson gone, Henderson will be the only player left with the ability to create his own shot. There is very little he can’t do offensively. He is able to get to the rim – and finish – and his mid-range jumper has become more consistent each season. When Duke is shooting poorly from behind the arc, the Blue Devils will need Henderson to create one on one.
Sixth man and three point specialist John Scheyer has the ability to spread the court. Last season he showed moments that his game has developed passed just being a stand still shooter. Either way, when he is on the court the defense has to be aware.
Interior play is still a weakness for this team. Coach K will have to address this issue from the beginning of practice. This season there will be more options on offense. Duke will come at teams with barrage of threes in the spread offense and off the pick and roll with any of the guards and Singler.
Duke’s offense will create problems for the opposing team’s zone defense. If you drop the zone too far into the lane, it will allow for wide open looks behind the arc. But if you keep the zone stretched to guard against the three, the lane will be open for Duke’s quards get to the rim.
The Blue Devils will never be a “sleeper”, but with all the focus on the UNC Tarheels, Duke will not get national attention of their rivals from Tobacco Road and that is just fine with Duke.
With Duke returning many key players – 83% of their scoring – and the addition of depth and height of the freshmen class, look to the Blue Devils to once again compete for the ACC title and make a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.
STARTING LINE-UP G Paulus, G Williams, G/F Henderson, F Singler, F Thomas
NEXT OFF THE BENCH G Scheyer, G Smith, C Zoubek, F/C Plumlee, F Czyz, F McClure