Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Morning: The Duke Offseason Report

Today, friend-of-the-blog Nick is taking over to regale us with an official* Duke basketball offseason report.

*Certified by an actual Duke in Shropshire, England.

Here's a list of Nick's greatest hits on SCSD!

-Duke is the best team in the NBA
-The Roy Williams take-down
-The 'Zombie Singler' Theorem
-Duke-WVU Final Four Preview

They've all been awesome, and so is this. Enjoy!


When you think of May, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? College basketball, of course! Let’s see how the Blue Devils’ offseason is going.

With all the draft speculation cleared up and the final recruit rankings in, now might be a good time to check out how our roster stacks up next year. The Duke literati currently project the following starting lineup:

Holding the point will be the highest rated PG recruit in the nation and the best PG Duke has had since Jason Williams. Kyrie Irving comes in holding MVP co-honors from the Jordan Classic game and a sick baseline to baseline game. Watching him and thinking about our lineups makes me believe he’ll finally be able to lead us back to the promised land of fast-tempo dunkdom. Witness the 28-second mark (or the entire video):

The 2 and 3 spots will almost certainly be the core from last year’s team, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. No surprises here, just established awesomeness and a solid chance of at least one of these guys pulling down NPOY honors.

Holding down the 4 and 5 will be the Brothers Plumtree. The younger Plumlee will be especially fun to watch this year. He got hurt in the offseason last year, which is devastating for a freshman trying to get acclimated to NCAA play. I really look forward to seeing his progress, especially considering he has the talent to be a projected 2011 lottery pick.

Our Savior Seth Curry will be coming off the bench for heavy minutes at the 1 and 2. Some have suggested playing a three-guard lineup with him, but that means someone 6’ 2” would have to guard our oppositions SF, which is why a lot of people think Miles Plumlee will start ahead of Curry. What I don’t doubt is that he will get his time.

(Editor's Note: the opinions of Nick do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Seth Curry Saves Duke! organization.)

Other incoming guys:

Carrick Felix is a monster athlete (dunk from the foul line, anyone?) and JuCo transfer. He has a really great story here. Clearly a high character guy and will be a good practice matchup/backup for Singler at the 3. With an older, more developed body we’ll probably see him sooner rather than later.

Joshua Hairston is our other recruit, a solid scoring face-up 4 out of Montrose Christian. He’ll probably have to bulk up a bit, but his stock has been rising all through his senior year. He should be good enough to grab a solid 10-15 minutes in the big man rotation, along with Ryan Kelly.

Our last recruit is a Man for Others hailing from the greatest place in the world (and my own Alma Mater), Gonzaga College High School. Tyler Thornton is a top-caliber defender with great quickness and floor vision, if a bit of an unpolished handle. With so much talent at the 1 and 2 above him, he probably won’t see too many minutes as a freshman but should be a solid role player in the years to come (think Sean Dockery).

On the recruiting trail, K has already locked up two solid players in the 2011 class. Micheal Gbinije is a silky smooth 6’ 6” swingman. The other guy we’ve already snagged is a 6’9”, 255 lb bruising badass out of Mississippi. This is the first time we’ve had a real mean banger down low since...Elton Brand? An awesome pickup.

We still have two remaining targets in 2011. One is Quincy Miller, a 6'8'' 180 lb SG/SF that is one of the jewels of the class. My favorite thing about him is a post on his form spring, where strangers and douchebags can ask him questions:

UK fan: I'm a UK fan and I would rather have Rakeem Christmas than u.

Qmiller: thats fine..and i would rather have a Duke fan than u

Pwn’d, as the kids would say. He’s a legit funny kid (I believe on facebook he committed to ITT Tech) and should be really fun to watch. The other kid we’re hot on is Austin Rivers, a combo guard who some believe is #1 in the class. He committed to Florida as a sophomore in high school, but backed down from that commitment last year. He’s Celtics coach Doc Rivers’ son and is really fun to watch. Recruiting is always a funny business, but I believe we’ve got a solid chance of nabbing both these guys. Hopefully we’re coming back to the days when Coach K doesn’t recruit, he just selects.

In NBA news, Grant Hill pulled down the NBA Sportsmanship award. Say, what do the last 5 of 6 winners of this award have in common?

2004-5 Grant Hill
2005-6 Elton Brand
2006-7 Luol Deng
2007-8 Grant Hill
2008-9 Chauncey Billups
2009-10 Grant Hill

Scholars and gentlemen, those Duke grads.

Outside of Duke there’s been some news as well. Rumors are going around that Kentucky’s Calipari might be a one-and-done himself with a job opening up as the coach of the Bulls. He’d get to coach his former player Derrick Rose, as well as whoever Chicago can bring in with their max-deal cap space (Lebron, Bosh, and Wade are all possibilities). He told ESPN’s Andy Katz that he’s not leaving, but that’s standard fare in the college game when even whispers of leaving can devastate a recruiting class. It’s interesting to note that his prize PG Brandon Knight committed but was smart enough not to sign a letter of intent, leaving his options open if Cal bolts. I mean really, considering how slimy Calipari is does anyone think he wouldn’t go to Chicago if he got the chance?

8 miles down the road there’s some news as well, as half of UNC’s frontcourt has opted to transfer. This leaves only Tyler Zeller, who hasn’t played a full season due to injuries and John Henson, who can’t play more than 20 minutes without getting winded. Now checking into the game at center, 6’ 6” Will Graves everyone! No really. He’s their next tallest player from last year.

Really makes you wonder about Harrison Barnes. In his only year in the NCAA, UNC’s star recruit will to have to play out of position at the 4 instead of lighting it up from the perimeter. Sorry bro!


  1. Henson getting winded is not the issue*. The problem is Roy Williams' stubbornness to admit that he's made a mistake. He just didn't play Henson even though he was the most talented player on the team.

    *Henson ran a 5:20 mile preseason last year....fastest on the team:

  2. In this case, the mistake was trying to get him to learn college ball in just spotty minutes at SF, rather than giving him plenty of minutes at PF from the beginning.

  3. Umm, call up the Henson clan and complain then. He was playing the 3 because that was a condition to his commitment. After he - hmm how do I say - 'underachieved' Roy told the family he must play the 4 or not play at all.

  4. Yeah, you know the Henson family? You talk to them often? Is that what they told you about his commitment?

    It was Roy who wanted to play Henson the 3 for two main reasons. First off, it presented a potential matchup nightmare for typical college 3's trying to guard him. Second and the PRIMARY REASON is because we had 5 other McDonald's All-Americans over 6'9". We didn't need more post players. Why not try to have him learn to play the 3? It would theoretically make the team as a whole better.

    The reason he ended up having to play the 4 was because we lost 2 post players to season ending injuries (Ed Davis' broken wrist and D Wear's hip), then lost 2 more to injuries (Zeller's stress fracture and T Wear's badly sprained ankle), so we were down to 1 healthy post player other than Henson....Deon Thompson. So unless Roy wanted to send Will Graves out at the 4, then he had to move Henson there.

    It was not because, as you say, he was "underachieving" at the 3....Roy simply had no choice. I think without the injuries he would never have moved to the 4 last season.

    I'm still in the camp that thinks that he could eventually play some time at SF. He has very good ball handling skills for someone of his size and can run the floor extremely well. His high school experience as a guard gives him an edge over other players his size trying to play the 3. It is very difficult, however, to adapt to the speed of the college game when you're playing limited minutes at a new position, so he didn't succeed much.

    Check your facts. Study the lineups, injuries, minutes, then you can respond. Don't just fall into the typical ABC flame wars. I guess that is the benefit of anonymous posting, but you just look like a typical UNC hater.