2011-2012 College Basketball Preview Series – Duke Blue Devils

(EJSIC is previewing several college basketball teams.  Check out Michael Street’s Memphis preview here.)

One of the most fascinating teams in college basketball to watch this season will be the Duke Blue Devils.  Replacing four year stars Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, as well as one-third-and-done Kyrie Irving would seem a nearly overwhelming challenge for many coaches.  However, when you’re an all-time great coach, like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, it’s hard to get rattled.

Last season’s results:
32-5
ACC Runner-Up
ACC Tournament Champion
Lost 93-77 to Arizona in Sweet 16

Key departures:
Kyle Singler  (34.8 mpg, 16.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Nolan Smith (34.0 mpg, 20.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.2TO, 35% 3PT)
Kyrie Irving (27.5 mpg, 11 gps, 17.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.5 TO, 47% 3PT)

59% of scoring, 39% of rebounding, 63% of assists

Key returnees:
Mason Plumlee (25.6 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg)
Seth Curry (25.0 ppg, 9.0 ppg, 2 apg, .9TO)
Ryan Kelly (20.1 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

Notable non-conference matchups:
Michigan State (likely to be the game in which Mike Krzyzewski breaks Bob Knight’s all-time wins record)
at Ohio State (a true road game!)
Maui Invitational (possible matchups with Memphis and Kansas or UCLA)

Before we go much further, I should mention that as a lifelong Tar Heel fan, a hint of subtle bias may occasionally creep into this analysis.  But I’ll try to keep my personal feelings out of this entry as much as possible.  I’ll let you watch Duke play, and you can form your own opinions about the way Coach K and his staff approach the game. Continue reading