A very interesting question pertaining to the upcoming college basketball season is: Will it be Duke or the field taking home the national championship?
One thing that is tailor-made for Duke is that they have the right man leading their ship. Mike Krzyzewski is entering his 39th year as the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils. Coach K is just 22 wins away from becoming the winningest coach in NCAA history. He has a very talented roster heading into the 2018-19 season having landed the top-rated freshman class according to ESPN.
Besides the experience of Coach K, here are some reasons why Duke should be favored to win it all:
As Dick Vitale would say, these Diaper Dandies are going to be the key to Duke’s success in 2019. R.J. Barrett can fill it up with the best of them. Zion Williamson is a human highlight reel as he can dunk on anyone at any time. Cam Reddish seems to be the quintessential player needed to glue everyone together. He can score in a variety of areas and he can handle the rock. Finally, Tre Jones is the younger brother of Tyus Jones. If he is anything like his brother, he will bring a level-headed approach to the hardwood and be an extension of what Coach K needs on the floor.
It will be interesting to see how these young players deal with adversity. Also, who develops into a leader. Finally, we all want to know which of these young men is the clutch player needed in big moments. They have a few months to get themselves together, but ultimately this group will be remembered for what they do in the Big Dance come March.
The Role Players
Every great team needs players that excel in one area rather than trying to do things they don’t know how to do. In other words, role players will be key for the Blue Devils.
Alex O’Connell, Joey Baker, and Justin Robinson are a few guys that could find themselves benefiting from some wide open looks given all the attention the aforementioned players will command. O’Connell and Baker are natural shooters while Robinson’s shot comes and goes. Meanwhile Jack White is a fan favorite and someone that could be a leader at times. He will lead by example with his passion and tenacity. Not to mention he is willing to fly in for extra possessions on offense.
Well, Duke has star power and they seem to be set with utility players, but they need size. Players like Antonio Vrankovic, Marques Bolden, and Javin DeLaurier have exactly that. Each of these guys is well over 6’10” and its’ an added bonus for Duke because not very many teams even have one guy that tall. Even if they aren’t defensive stalwarts, their size makes them a factor at the rim. Offensively, they will be easy targets to hit for putbacks and tip-ins. The player that displays the most toughness on both ends will likely see the most time.
Duke has been loaded the last few seasons with big names and McDonald’s All-Americans, but it has not resulted in much regarding the NCAA tournament. Part of the problems Coach K will have in getting this group to jell is to get them to buy into one vision without hidden agendas. Once everyone starts to be selfless, we could be looking at a special Duke squad. One that will be hard to beat.