Previewing The Duke Blue Devils

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 19: Coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils walks onto the court for a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 19, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Duke @ StatSheet
2012 Stats
2012 Roster
2012 Schedule

Duke Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 53.7 17
Turnover Rate 17.3 31
Off Reb Rate 34.8 82
FTA/FGA 37.4 182
Duke Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 54.9 10
Turnover Rate 17.9 38
Off Reb Rate 35.9 52
FTA/FGA 46.2 9

As usual, Duke has a very efficient offense; the difference between this Duke team and Duke teams from the last few years is how often this group likes to shoot the three. With Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Ryan Kelly, the Blue Devils already had several outstanding three-point shooters, and then they went and added Austin Rivers to the mix. Rivers, Dawkins, and Kelly are shooting over 40% from outside this year, while Curry is a shade under 39%.

Rivers' quick first step creates penetrate-and-dish opportunities, and the Plumlees haven't been huge parts of the offense, though they've been effective scorers in the paint.

In conference play, Duke has had the most efficient offense in the league--the Blue Devils rank first or second in all four factors.

Starters:

Austin Rivers (6-4, 200) -- He's come right in and assumed leadership of this offense, and in doing so he hasn't disappointed. He will hurt the Blue Devils with his shot selection from time to time, but he's also talented enough to hit just about any shot he takes, as the Tar Heels discovered. Staying in front of Rivers and keeping him from breaking down the defense will be a huge challenge for State.

Seth Curry (6-2, 180) -- Curry's workload was nearly cut in half in his first year at Duke, as he went from the only guy at Liberty to a role player with the Blue Devils. Not surprisingly, Curry was far more efficient with less to worry about, and he hit 43.5% from long range. This season he's a bigger part of the offense, and his outside shooting hasn't suffered much.

Andre Dawkins (6-4, 200) -- While Rivers and Curry take their fair share of shots inside the arc, Dawkins is something much closer to a three-point specialist, and he's really good in that role--he's never shot worse than 37.9% from outside in 2+ seasons at Duke.

Ryan Kelly (6-11, 230) -- Kelly's having the best season of his college career, as he's been an effective shooter inside and out for the first time. He's also getting to the line more often--where he shoots 80%--and grabbing more offensive boards.

Mason Plumlee (6-10, 235) -- When in doubt, foul. He hit 59.9% of his twos and 44.1% of his free throws last season. This year, those numbers are 57.7% and 48.6%, respectively. Naturally, however, the law of NC State Shit insists that any trips to the foul line prove unusually successful, and so you can expect Plumlee to hit six of eight FTs on Thursday night.

Bench

Tyler Thornton (6-1, 195), Miles Plumlee (6-10, 245), Quinn Cook (6-0, 175). Thornton or Cook probably will start in place of Dawkins, but since Dawkins gets more minutes in general, I lumped him in with the starters.

Thornton has been efficient in an eenie weenie offensive role--he took less than six percent of the shots while on the court last year, and now he's at a shade over nine percent. This has allowed him to hit a decent percentage of his occasional field goal attempts, but suffice it to say that he's not going to be a huge part of the scoring.

Cook's had a solid freshman season, he just hasn't been on the court long enough to really make that apparent. His outside shot has been bad up to this point, and his defense could be another thing keeping him out of the lineup given that he's a freshman. But his 31-13 assist percentage/turnover percentage splits are very impressive and he's been scoring effectively inside the arc.

Miles is the top offensive rebounder in the country and he's more accurate than his brother in the paint and at the line, though he has fewer responsibilities. Sadly, Miles will graduate after this year, but there will be no Plumlee vaccuum, as that one that redshirted will be playing maybe.

Is anyone else kind of craving a plum right now?

Duke Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 44.5 11
Turnover Rate 20.9 112
Off Reb Rate 32.6 193
FTA/FGA 29.6 32
Duke Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 47.5 111
Turnover Rate 19.4 228
Off Reb Rate 32.6 187
FTA/FGA 31.8 71

Ken Pomeroy's database goes back to 2002-2003, and in the span between then and now, Duke has never finished below 20th in defensive efficiency. This season they're 80th. That's hardly a disastrous drop, but given the change from last year with the Plumlees and Kelly as constants, it does raise some questions.

Last season, Duke opponents hit just 43.1% of their two-point attempts, while they're at 48% in 2012. As you can see in the tables, the defensive rebounding numbers are essentially the same, so it doesn't seem like the change would be the result of more easy second chance looks. There's a measure of luck involved in the frequency of high percentage second chance opportunities, but I can't imagine that accounts for the difference. Who knows. They were 10th in defensive rebounding in conference games last season but #1 in 2FG% defense. This year they're 11th in both categories.

The Blue Devils are still locking down the perimeter, though, and if there's one thing that is always true of Duke, it's that aspect of the defense.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Duke by 12.

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