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FanTake: One Way to Handle Duke Basketball’s Terrific Depth

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Rasheed Sulaimon
Photograph courtesy of Blue Devil Nation.

Of course, it’s no secret that this year’s Duke Basketball team may be one of the deepest in school history.  Guys will be fighting tooth and nail for minutes.  Hopefully, based on the positive attitudes reported among the players to this point, team unity won’t be adversely affected by the fight for playing time.

We know that Coach K’s style involves ordinarily sending in individual subs, and he expects players to be able to excel, whatever combo is on the floor at any given time.  But given the number of great players, I wonder if K might be willing to occasionally play two different sets of five. One advantage of this strategy is that players get to know each other’s moves and capabilities very well and can possibly play better as a unit.

My hypothetical first team would be Quinn, Sulaimon, Parker, Hood and Jefferson.  This would be the most athletic team and the fastest team on the break. It would also contain at least three players who are great scorers, and one (Quinn) who can score when called upon.

The second team would be Thornton, Dawkins, Plumlee and a choice of two out of the following four players:  Murphy/Hairston and Jones/Ojeleye.  Whether this team could spell the first team would depend largely on exactly how much they develop as players during this off-season. The team would contain at least three pure shooters: Dawkins, Jones and Ojeleye.

Of this group, Dawkins and Thornton are tough, proven veterans. Hairston has also played his share of minutes and he began to shine near the close of last season.  Murphy hasn’t gotten many minutes so far and I half-expected him to play with the idea of transferring. Instead, he is working extremely hard this summer to improve his game. Plumlee is also a big question mark because his injury allowed so few playing minutes.  If he explodes out of the starting blocks, he could be a significant factor, especially as a rebounder.  Jones and Ojeleye were both huge scorers in high school, and one or both could surprise us come fall. This team could be a little slower than the first team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they compete quite evenly with the first team in practices, and perhaps in games also.