\nWith the exportation of a historically talented freshman class for the Duke Basketball program, another one takes its place soon after. Thus is the reality of Duke Basketball in this day and age. While this facet of the year-to-year roster dynamic is erratic, much of the ideology instilled in Duke Basketball seeks to remain uninterrupted. Despite the fresh faces and the limited experience expected of freshman on the collegiate level, certain levels of execution will be expected while donning the Duke uniform. Defensive identity and intensity will be paramount in the shaping of what should be championship caliber talent.\nMuch can be said of the 2017-2018 campaign as it relates to defensive performance. Languished was the man-to-man defensive execution early in the season. Often the ridicule reached that of national attention in the ineptitude of a young team struggling to showcase even the most basic of man-to-man principles. Due to shake-ups in the lineup, a short absence by Coach K on the sidelines and an analytical approach to their frontcourt length, this team reinvented itself as a zone defensive unit that would make Jim Boeheim proud. While stifling in many rights, the Elite 8 loss to Kansas highlighted the importance of those man-to-man principles that were simply glossed over.\nShifting our focus from the past to the near future requires an idea of what talent will be available to the Blue Devils coaching staff. The muddied waters of NBA draft decisions have become clear, as last year’s entire starting lineup will be leaving Durham. Henceforth, the optics of the Duke lineup will be completely different, especially as senior leader Grayson Allen has seen out the last of his eligibility. However, in the age of mass exposure for the spectacle that is high school basketball recruiting, we can see that the incoming talent is more than comparable to what is leaving. In terms of how we can predict the on-court product via tape, stats and advanced metrics of their high school careers, simply looking at the measurements of the incoming freshmen bodes well for Duke fan’s expectations, especially in the way of defensive identity.\nMuch like last year, a big topic of discussion will be the length of the incoming group of freshmen. While last year’s group boasted formidable frontcourt size, next year’s team length advantage will be more pronounced on the wings. With the exception of Tre Jones being a natural point guard listed at 6’2”, the average height of the other three freshmen is roughly 6’6”. Zion Williamson, while not the #1 ranked recruit (R.J. Barrett), comes with nationally garnered attention for his internet breaking highlights as he played the role of a physically dominant big man on his high school team. Expected to play a power-forward role next year, he will be hybrid in many ways because he is listed at 6’7”, usually a height associated with a skilled small forward. Also, considered for a frontcourt role will be the aforementioned R.J. Barrett whose game boasts more semblance to the prototypical wing skill set. Barrett will see much of his time spent on the wing respectively due to this skill set but will surely be asked to play a role at the 4 or even the 2. Lastly, Cameron Reddish comes in as a highly touted shooting guard listed at 6’7” whose versatility demands that you not pigeonhole him as a one-position player.\nIn a sense, zone defense has served as a last resort for recent teams who have had a focus on frontcourt size (2015, 2017). Any part time YMCA coach will tell you that the key to playing man defense is foot speed and collective reaction. Keeping a focus on big man interplay, primarily for offensive reasons tends to bleed into defensive mismatches. It has been unfortunate from the Duke fan’s perspective seeing a team concede an age-old way of playing defense for what the benefits of having two bigs on the floor could be. A reason to be hopeful for those fans is that this team, on a purely objective outlook seems to have the tools befitting a classic man to man Duke team that is constantly rotating and switching defensive assignments.\nAdaptability will be a key facet to next year’s team. Keeping in mind the spread of height and skill set at these various positions, it can be assumed that much of the offensive and defensive scenarios will consist of a blend of speed and technical ability. While last year’s unit had technical ability to match, the inclusion of two prototypical big men on defense allowed for exploitation from more perimeter oriented team (i.e. Kansas). From offense to defense, the make-up of this new squad allows for a 4 around 1 focus, similar to the Duke teams from much of Coach K’s tenure. The speed on the wings will create havoc for teams that spread the floor with shooters and the subsequent gaps will be reinforced by fast recovery from the skill positions. Watch for Zion Williamson to act as an anchor for a defensive unit that will capitalize on mistakes, communicate effectively and push tempo on both sides of the court.