This year the Duke Blue Devils have the talent and the bench to be a great team, but there are things that could keep them from being a national championship contender. They have experience and athleticism, a great starting five that could compete with anyone, and a bench with experience that could help them as the season goes along. This could be a very dangerous team, but like every other team, they have some weaknesses. If they can overcome those weaknesses as a team this could be a Final Four team.
The biggest weakness that this team will need to overcome is their rebounding, due in large part to the two post players they lost from last season’s team. They lost Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, both players that were taller than 6-foot-10 and very experienced.
This is where they will miss Plumlee the most. He was a double-double guy and almost always pulled down at least ten rebounds. The Blue Devils had three recruits in this season’s class, but they are a shooting guard and two small forwards. This leaves the Duke Blue Devils with one player over 6- foot-8. They will need Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood to help out with rebounding because of their athleticism. This will leave rebounding to be a major concern and a team effort. They need everyone to box out and rebound.
The second biggest challenge to this season will be the leadership role. They had three great leaders on the team last year and lost them all to graduation. This will be hard in crucial times, but there are a number of players who can step up on this team.
In the beginning of the year, they will look to Quinn Cook to make the right decision and put the ball in the right hands at the right time. There will be plenty of times for Parker, Hood and Rasheed Suliamon to step up and make big plays, whether it’s a big shot or a big stop on defense. If one of them can make impact plays on this team, they should be in good shape this season.
The last key to making this a successful season is finding a post game. The inside-out game is something Duke teams have used in the past. They lost Plumlee and Kelly from last year’s team and they were the only real post game Duke had last season. This season they will have to look to someone new to give them an inside game and have someone step up. The post up game is more likely going to have to rely on Amile Jefferson, Jabari Parker, or Marshall Plumlee.
If Duke can find a few players to pick up where the seniors from last season left off, this could be a better team. They need someone to play well in the post and be dedicated to rebounding defensively and offensively. The good thing is that they have a great number of players willing to take on the challenge of filling the holes that the seniors left from last season. This team should be able to fill these holes and should be a great team, and one that should be in contention to be a Final Four team in 2014.