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Previewing Duke

2008 Scouting Report / 2008 Game Plan
2008 Schedule
2008 Roster

Duke Offense 07-08Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%55.710Turnover Rate18.434Off Reb Rate33.5160FTM/FGA27.784


Run away! Run away!

A certain amount of grudging respect must be granted to the Blue Devils for the way they have reinvented themselves this season. They made a dramatic change to their approach that you don't see very often, upping their pace from 66 possessions per game a year ago to nearly 75 this season. While their offensive rebounding is down thanks to a lack of height and an increased reliance on three-pointers, they've made that irrelevant by shooting and protecting the basketball extremely well.
 eFG% TO%
2007 52.5 22.7
2008 55.7 18.4

Starters:

Greg Paulus (6-1, 185) -- As Ken Pomeroy noted, Paulus has become a smaller part of the offense this season; he's taking a little over 16% of Duke's shots while he's on the court, down from 20.3% a year ago. He's also become more of a three-point specialist, devoting about 69% of his attempts to threes. To his credit, he has decreased his turnover rate to the point where he can no longer be considered a liability here, though how much of that is just a function of his decreased role I do not know (the assist rate is down, too). Paulus is one of four Blue Devils who shoot threes regularly and hit over 40% of them.

DeMarcus Nelson (6-4, 200) -- Shooting 42.3% from outside, which I would think has to start coming down at some point. But he does most of his scoring inside of the arc, where he is--and can be expected to remain--a guy who shoots better than 50%.

Gerald Henderson (6-4, 210) -- He has become an offensive focal point, using 26% of the possessions and taking 27.1% of the shots; the increased involvement has made him the least efficient of the primary scorers. Nelson and Singler could stand to take some of his workload.

Kyle Singler (6-8, 220) -- A very efficient shooter from inside the arc (57.8%). Offensive rebounds pretty well, but the defensive rebounding needs a lot of work (he rebounds like Ben McCauley, basically). He's had a bit of a problem with fouls (4.6 per 40 minutes), which isn't surprising under the circumstances.

Lance Thomas (6-8, 220) -- The most glaring liability in the rotation, he's still very much a work in progress. Duke has no choice but to use him; with Zoubek sidelined, Thomas and Singler are the only healthy players who are 6-8 or taller. His role is kept to a bare minimum which prevents him from doing too much damage.

Bench:

Jon Scheyer's (6-5, 180) role and minutes have decreased, but he is uber-efficient. Another 40+% outside shooter. God, this game is gonna hurt.

Taylor King (6-6, 230) only gets about 13 minutes a night but leads the Blue Devils in three point attempts. When he comes in, it's bombs away, baby: 14.8 3FGAs per 40 minutes. His fearless and accurate shooting have helped him average 27.1 points per 40 minutes. That's incredible.

Nolan Smith (6-2, 180) has an assist rate that's comparable to Paulus's, but he is more turnover prone and the outside shooting isn't there yet.


Duke Defense 07-08Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%45.640Turnover Rate25.822Off Reb Rate31.5106FTA/FGA29.555


Here we are with this wealth of height struggling to grab the other team's misses. And here's Duke, with just a few tall guys, limiting opponents to 31.5% of their misses. Must be nice to have a well-coached basketball team.

It looks like Duke's up-and-down style is getting to the opposition. They're blocking fewer shots and their steal rate hasn't increased much, but they're forcing a lot more turnovers, which suggests that the pressure is having a major effect. When we played Duke without Atsur last season, we turned the ball over on 29% of our possessions. As we are without a point guard this time around as well, I'd expect a similar figure.

And if that happens, Duke's expected margin of victory (21) might be on the conservative side.

I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please save us, Superman.

[Photo is borrowed from the Scheyerface thread.]