Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bigs to play major role for Duke

DURHAM For the last several seasons under coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke has used a perimeter-first formula to build an elite basketball program.

But personnel losses from last season leave Duke with 6-foot-11 junior Ryan Kelly and 6-10 junior Mason Plumlee as two of its three returning starters from a team that went 32-5 and lost in the West Regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils lone senior is 6-10 Miles Plumlee, one of three Plumlee brothers on the team. So for the first time in recent memory, Dukes focus is shifting away from the perimeter and toward veterans who play closer to the basket.

Our big guys can be very good,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Wednesday at the team’s preseason media availability. “And they should be. They’re ready to be. And a lot of success that we’ll have this season will be dependent on their play.”

Krzyzewski said Duke’s coaches learned during their August exhibition trip to China and Dubai that the two eldest Plumlees and Kelly are much improved players.
The trip was a chance for players to impress the coaches because standout seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler are gone from last season’s team, along with No. 1 NBA draft pick Kyrie Irving.

Kelly led the team in scoring in China, averaging 15.0 points per game. Miles Plumlee averaged 9.8 rebounds per game, and Mason Plumlee shot 18-for-22 from the field to average 10.3 points.

Miles Plumlee and Kelly were named team captains in September.

“Coach definitely told us over the summer when we saw him that we can be a central focus of our team,” Kelly said. “It’s been a little bit different. The talent level of our bigs has increased a ton, and guys have gotten better.”

Duke still faces a lot of questions as it prepares for the Countdown to Craziness festivities Friday night that will begin preseason practice. The departures of Smith, Singler and Irving leave a team that Krzyzewski said will be balanced but doesn’t have players who are used to leading roles.

The team’s only major threat to create a shot off the dribble is guard Austin Rivers, who won many national player of the year awards as a high school senior but still is just a freshman.

So when the Blue Devils need a big basket down the stretch, it’s unclear who will take it.

We dont necessarily have to have Nolan taking the last shot, Mason Plumlee said, although that was nice.

Instead, Duke may have different options each game and will rely more heavily on big men than in the past. In particular, the Plumlees and Kelly will quarterback the defense.

Krzyzewski said the coaches will figure out how to take advantage of the bigs’ ability to block shots and take charges. All around, for a team that has relied on Smith and Jon Scheyer and J.J. Redick for the past several years, the Blue Devils appear destined for a major change as the post players get more involved.

How we incorporate our bigs in what we’re doing both offensively and defensively is a change from the last couple of years,” Krzyzewski said. So there are some habits to break as far as how we score, how we defend. So we incorporate our big guys more. And we’re going to do that.

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...


The only "major role" the bigs at Duke will play is setting screens for the shooters, rebounding the missed shots from the shooters, and passing the ball back out to the shooter. I mean seriously who on earth is GULLIBLE enough to believe this load of BS?

Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Mike Gbinije, Quinn Cook, and Alex Murphy are all ELITE perimeter scorers who have been promised the same Duke system we have all seen over the years. Yet we're supposed to believe Duke's roster is forcing them to suddenly change their philosphy? LMFAO

This seems like a very clear ploy by the Duke staff to try and convince big men recruits (Tony Parker, Mitch McGary...) that they won't be afterthoughts if they come to Duke. Unfortunately Ken Tysiac doesn't have the brain to see through this BS.

Anonymous said...

I'll believe it when I see it.

Anonymous said...

Sports Illustrated ranks Duke as having the #1 backcourt in the country.

Meanwhile Ken Tysiac believes the Duke spin that their personel forces them to rely more on their bigs this season.

Way to be a hand puppet in Coach K's recruiting game Mr. Tysiac.

Anonymous said...

Coach K : greatest of all time

Anonymous said...

I'd type a thoughtful response, but I can't stop shaking from uncontrollable laughter.

Welcome to dook, Austin.

Anonymous said...

As a Duke supporter I don't buy it either...this is an elite perimeter-focused team complimented by its bigs.

Until Tony Parker commits, the bigs will not be Duke's focus.

Michael Procton said...

Just because the bigs will "play a major role" doesn't mean they're going to be force-fed the ball in the post. Miles and Kelly, particularly, have strong mid-range games, and Kelly's range goes out to the three-point line. The fact is, though, that those guys will be important, particularly on defense and in rebounding.

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