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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 30th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Duke Blue Devils


Overall Rank: #15

Conference Rank: #3 ACC


2005-06: 32-4, 14-2, 1st

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


It doesn’t really matter that Duke lost its two best players.  Every time we think that the Blue Devils are going to have a down year, there they are in March in the Final Four.  This year it doesn’t even look that bad for Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad.  There have been depth issues in Durham in recent years, but barring any more injuries, this team will have depth, albeit youthful depth.


Who’s Out: The absence of the long range shooting and 26.8 points per game of J.J. Redick will obviously be missed.  So will the 18.8 points and 10.7 rebounds of Shelden Williams.  Fellow starter Sean Dockery will be missed on the defensive end and Lee Melchionni proved to be a valuable contributor during his career at Duke.  Eric Boateng has transferred and seldom used Patrick Davidson, Patrick Johnson and Ross Perkins won’t be returning to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


Who’s In: But like every year at Duke, the excitement is not about the guys leaving, it is about the guys coming.  Gerald Henderson is the best of the great bunch.  The 6-4 wing has amazing athleticism and will get to the hole and finish and give plenty of reasons for the Crazies to go crazier.  Lance Thomas’ late commitment massively improved the depth in the paint.  He is an intense rebounder and can do a little scoring as well.  Jon Scheyer is the closest thing to a J.J. Redick clone that Duke could find in this class.  The long range shooting is there, the intangibles are there, the strength is not and the quickness is not…yet at least.  That sounds a lot like Redick heading into Duke.  Brian Zoubek, the only non McDonald’s All-American incoming freshman, is a crafty low post scorer.  At 7-1 and 250 pounds, the potential is limitless for Zoubek.  David McClure returns after missing last year with a knee injury.  The 6-6 forward earned three starts during the 2004-2005 campaign. 


Who to Watch: You’re good when you show up at Duke as a freshman and start 33 games at the point.  Greg Paulus, now a veteran sophomore, will be the team leader and look to turn last year’s All-Freshman honors into All-Conference honors this year.  If Paulus’ sophomore status makes him a veteran, DeMarcus Nelson is the old man of the squad.  The 6-4 junior guard should have a starting job waiting, but he will have to compete hard to hold onto it.  Martynas Pocius saw limited minutes on the wing as a freshman and will look to increase his role in 2006-2007.  With Paulus re-aggravating a foot injury, Duke will have to reshuffle the rotation.  That may mean less up tempo play and force Nelson and Scheyer to handle the point duties until Paulus returns.  That’s not a bad thing on the defensive end, but it raises tons of questions around the issues of floor leadership and ball handling. 


Final Projection: Josh McRoberts is the stud in the paint.  Without Williams eating up all the stats, McRoberts will dramatically improve on his 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.  Jamal Boykin never really worked his way into the regular rotation as freshman, but has the talent and potential to contribute at both forward spots.  Ten of the 12 players on the roster have at least two years of eligibility remaining after this season.  Luckily with Duke, we won’t have to worry about how much they’ll dominate in two years, since most of these guys will be in the NBA by then.  For now, Duke will have to overcome some freshmenitis, but it’s been done so many times before and there is little doubt that the Blue Devils won’t let a down year happen.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

DeMarcus Nelson, Junior, Guard, 7.1 points per game

Jon Scheyer, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Gerald Henderson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Lance Thomas, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season

Josh McRoberts, Sophomore, Forward, 8.7 points per game


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