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Looking Ahead To 2013-14 Season

The 2012-2013 Duke Men’s Basketball season has barely been over for 2 days but it’s time to look ahead (besides, we looked back last night).

As you know Duke will be losing seniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Mason Plumlee. Those are going to be some incredible shoes to fill, not only from a scoring standing but from leadership as well. Personally I think Mason’s are going to be the hardest to fill based on the current roster as of today:

G – Quinn Cook
G – Tyler Thorton
G – Rasheed Sulaimon
G – Andre Dawkins
G – Matt Jones
F – Alex Murphy
F – Rodney Hood
F – Josh Hairston
F – Amile Jefferson
F – Jabari Parker
F – Semi Ojeleye
F/C – Marshall Plumlee
F/C – Todd Zafirovski

IF I had to guess at a starting lineup for the first game of the season, at the moment I would say that you would see

G – Quinn Cook
G – Rasheed Sulaimon
F – Rodney Hood
F – Jabari Parker
F – Josh Hairston

Let me explain why.

Cook, Hood, and Parker are no brainers. Cook is our starting PG, everyone has been raving about Hood and he will be a Jr., and Parker is one of the top players in the country. Right now I say Rasheed Sulaimon starts over Andre Dawkins because Andre has not been with the team. He very well could earn that starting spot over Sheed during summer workouts and preseason practices. Dawkins I think is going to have to show Coach K he is ready to be the player we all know he can be. If he doesn’t start at the beginning of the season, I think Andre could very well be starting by Dec. or at latest ACC play. Coach K will want that senior leadership Andre can bring to the table.

While I believe Amile Jefferson should start in place of Hairston, we all know Coach K loves Josh and loves what he brings to the team. Josh was many times the first player off the bench for Duke this season. And again, Josh will be a senior and know what’s expected. That being said, like with Sulaimon/Dawkins, I could see Amile starting by Dec. or latest ACC play. He showed a lot in his brief time this year that has me excited for what he can bring after a summer of getting stronger and working with the Duke coaching staff.

Most people might say Plumlee should be starting to give us a true starting center. While I agree we could use one, I’m not sure if Marshall is ready for that. He did not get much playing time at all this season, and when he was in there he at times seemed lost or maybe too amped up. He’s going to need a healthy offseason to work on his game and show K that he is ready for extended minutes. Just like Alex Murphy who we were all expecting to have be a valuable part of the team this year, but at times barely moved off the bench.

Earlier I mentioned that Mason’s shoes would be the hardest to fill and it’s because we don’t have that true low post prescence who can bang inside to score and grab rebounds and block shots. I believe we’ll have more than enough shooting with Sulaimon, Dawkins, Hood, and freshmen Matt Jones. I think we’ll have stretch 4 if you will in Parker, even though he’s not as tall as Kelly. I think he will still have the size to cause matchup problems on both ends of the floor.

I think this will be the pecking order for the 2013-14 Duke team:

  • Jabari Parker
  • Rodney Hood
  • Quinn Cook
  • Rasheed Sulaimon
  • Andre Dawkins
  • Josh Hairston
  • Tyler Thorton
  • Amile Jefferson
  • Semi Ojeleye
  • Matt Jones
  • Marshall Plumlee
  • Alex Murphy
  • Todd Zafirovski

Alex Murphy is far down on the list because I honestly think it’s all in his head. If he can get the confidence he needs then he can and will be a very valuable part of the team. In a lot of ways it’s Miles Plumlee all over again. We see the talent. We know he can be a star. He just has to put it all together and make it happen.

My prediction for this team without ever having one practice together or knowing their schedule is they will be finish first in the regular season and win the ACC Championship, thus locking up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. I think they will be able to make it to the Final Four and contend for a National Championship. They have a great mixture of upper classmen and young players. The lack of a true low post presence will hurt them against teams that do have one, though I think they will have enough of a mixture of offense and defense to win. Kentucky will go in the season the #1 favorite because of all their recruits, but that many freshmen trying to get time, I personally don’t see, no matter how talented the freshmen may be, them winning it all. A Final Four is possible depending on matchups and how well they mesh together, but don’t expect Kentucky to win another title.