Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski announced this morning that he has named senior Greg Paulus and juniors Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson as team captains for 2008-09. The move came just a year after Krzyzewski said he'd learned how using so many captains can dilute the abiility of those captains to lead.
That was the reason then lone-senior DeMarcus Nelson served as the lone team captain last season. Using multiple captains is a tough thing to make work but, this season, the coaching staff had no way around it.
Scheyer and Henderson must take charge of the 2008-09 Duke team. They made that clear after the way they played during the 2008 NCAA Tournament against Belmont and West Virginia with Nelson struggling during the postseason of his senior year.
Henderson took the ball and saved the game going coast to coast in the final seconds against Belmont. The play had Henderson's skill, athleticism and ability to complete a huge play came wrapped up in one neat package. That physical ability to seize a moment is something Duke has been missing for awhile.
Also, Scheyer, who physically faded down the stretch of a good freshman season, put together a strong, consistent sophomore season coming off the bench but playing all the hard minutes and making more than his share of heady plays.
It got sticky for the staff because Paulus is now a senior. Paulus essentially took a demotion as a junior when he wasn't named a captain after serving with Nelson and Josh McRoberts, as a sophomore.
Paulus, the team's best 3-point threat the past two seasons, deserved the gig this season on the strength of time served alone. He's also an athlete who has had that responisbility before as a longtime quarterback and point guard. At Duke, however, even with that kind of experience and a willingness to take his lumps, he hasn't always been a good fit in that role.
We'll see how it works on the court. Assuming freshman Elliot Williams lives up to his billing, sophomore Nolan Smith gets enough time on the court to get comfortable, and redshirt junior Marty Pocius actually is healthy enough to earn minutes, the Duke backcourt will again be crowded. The three captains and the three guys likely to come off the bench will have to earn what they get.