1 – Coach K
The best pay per head betting sites would not contest the claim that Duke has the best college basketball coach in the country, bar none. This might even be the best active basketball coach in the nation at either the pro or collegiate level. Mike Krzyzewski simply sets a higher standard than anyone else. His work with USA Basketball has elevated him above so many of his brother coaches in the country. The numerous amount of Final Four appearances, plus four national championships already in his pocket, make him this era’s version of John Wooden. Coach K has established a legacy that will transcend the bodies of work that have been forged by all of his contemporaries. The Coach K imprint will persist long after he eventually retires, and few coaches – past, present or future – will ever be able to be mentioned in the same breath. Coach K is always Duke’s primary advantage in any college basketball game or season.
2 –Jabari Parker
The star of this past Tuesday night’s Champions Classic in Chicago was Duke’s biggest recruit in many years. Jabari Parker was one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, and he realized what Krzyzewski had done with USA Basketball – he wanted to play for the very best coach in the land. Parker is the player who will likely make Duke a favorite to reach the Final Four, and America got to see why on Tuesday in Duke’s loss to Kansas. Parker tossed in shots from every spot on the court. He was the hardest player to defend in that game, with Kentucky’s Julius Randle starring against Michigan State in the other Champions Classic game. Parker is going to give this team so much more versatility at the offensive end of the floor. In recent seasons, Duke has become a team with fairly limited low-post scorers. Parker could change that equation and make the Blue Devils a much more blended halfcourt team.
1 – Non-Parker perimeter shooting
If you take a tour of the Duke roster and compare it to last year’s version, you’ll see that the Blue Devils won’t have Seth Curry to count on this season for particularly accurate perimeter shooting. Curry was – like his older brother Stephen – a tremendous long-distance shooter in college. This opened up the court for Curry’s teammates and made Duke harder to handle on defense. The absence of Curry will take away much of Duke’s perimeter production. This doesn’t mean Duke is going to be worse on an overall level, not with Parker around, but it does mean the proportion of scoring from this team could be something less than what it should be. Other non-Parker players such as Rodney Hood will have to step up in due course.
2 – Interior defense
The loss to Kansas on Tuesday night in Chicago was in many ways the product of terrible interior defense. Nobody stopped dribble penetration or provided the kind of presence that was able to force Kansas ballhandlers to veer away from the rim at the last moment. Duke has to become a much tougher defensive team in the paint if it wants to get to the Final Four.
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