Duke 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview
Duke Blue Devils - Atlantic Coast Conference (28-6, 11-5)
Seed: #2 - East Region
Big Wins: 12/20 vs Xavier (82-64), 1/10 at Florida State (66-58), 2/22 Wake Forest (101-91)
Bad Losses: 12/6 at Michigan (73-81), 2/4 at Clemson (47-74), 2/15 at Boston College (74-80)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to West Virginia
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (69-21 in 24 NCAA appearances)
Probable Duke Starters:
Elliot Williams, Freshman, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Jon Scheyer, Junior, Guard, 15.3 ppg, 2.8 apg
Gerald Henderson, Junior, Guard, 17.2 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.8 rpg
Kyle Singler, Sophomore, Forward, 16.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Lance Thomas, Junior, Forward, 5.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Key Duke Roleplayers:
David McClure, Senior, Forward, 2.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Greg Paulus, Senior, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.3 apg
Nolan Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 ppg, 1.6 apg
Brian Zoubek, Junior, Center, 4.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Why The Blue Devils Can Surprise:
For a couple years Duke has lacked a traditional big man. This year is no different, but this is a group that still does a solid job on the glass. And that is the difference between this Duke team and the team that lost to West Virginia in the second round last year or the team that lost to VCU in the first round two years ago. Kyle Singler is easily the best rebounder on the team, averaging 7.7 per game. He is also the team’s best scorer and the 6-8 sophomore is a decent outside shooter and always a threat to score 20 or more points in a game.
The other frontcourt players are not nearly as productive as Singler, especially in the scoring column, but Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and David McClure help out in other ways. Zoubek, the usual starter at the center spot, is a 7-1 junior who makes it very difficult for the opposition to score in the paint. His emergence this year has turned the Blue Devils defense into something to almost be proud of.
Why The Blue Devils Can Disappoint:
The Blue Devils take quite a few three-pointers, but they only make 33.9 percent of their attempts. Along with Singler; Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Greg Paulus are all capable outside shooters. But nobody is very consistent and if the outside shot is not falling, the Blue Devils offense can become stagnant. In Duke’s loss to Michigan they hit just seven of 33 attempts from long range. In the loss to Wake Forest it was even worse, hitting four of 22 attempts.
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Who To Watch:
The other key component that has been inconsistent this year is the play of Nolan Smith and Greg Paulus. Smith took over the starting point guard duties, but the 6-2 sophomore has struggled on occasion. Against Clemson, a game in which the Blue Devils lost 47-74, Smith had no assists and four turnovers. Paulus was not able to come into that game and make much of a difference either. The team as a whole does have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and the overall turnover numbers are not that awful, but Duke cannot win against a quality opponent if Smith and Paulus cannot take care of the ball. Freshman Elliott Williams was inserted into the staring lineup late in the year and that has solved some of the issues on the perimeter, yet the Blue Devils still need Paulus and Smith to be productive.
Duke By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.7 (17th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.7 (119, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.2 (103, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.2 (160, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (97, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.9 (171, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.3 (64, 6)
Rebound Margin: 3.5 (58, 4)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (120, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (66, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Sweet Sixteen loss to Villanova
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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