As Duke heads into their season opener against Georgia State on Friday, November 9th, they will have more than a few players to keep an eye on. With a plethora of incoming freshman, a couple new starters, and a team full of players looking to improve on their past season, there will be a lot of evaluating being done over the season, and it all starts against Georgia State.
Obviously, no definitive conclusions can be drawn from a single game, especially when that single game is against a very inexperienced and outmatched Panthers team. I’m not going to praise Mason Plumlee if he succeeds against a team that only has two players over 6’8, neither of which have seen much playing time over their college careers. Plumlee should record a double-double. Plumlee will record a double-double. I probably won’t pay much attention to how Plumlee performs, for the most part.
There are, however, a few players to keep an eye on this Friday.
Sulaimon will be playing in his first official game as a Duke Blue Devil, and the freshman comes into the program with the chance to be Duke’s best shooting guard since Jon Scheyer. Sulaimon averaged nearly 30ppg in his senior year of high school and brings to the table a strong skill set, highlighted by his ability to score from nearly every area of the floor.
In this game, watch to see how Sulaimon performs on both ends of the court, as Georgia State’s strength lies in their backcourt. He has shown the ability to defend both guard positions throughout his high school and brief college career, and it will be interesting to see how Coach K uses him throughout the game. Offensively, he will be looked to fill the role of a primary scorer, which Duke desperately needs with Andre Dawkins redshirting this season and Seth Curry struggling to return from an injury.
Curry has been struggling with a shin injury for the better part of two months, and everyone knows how catastrophic a season-long injury to Curry could be for the Blue Devils. He made it onto the court during their most recent exhibition against Winston-Salem State, but he struggled to make shots and was seen wincing in pain on multiple occasions.
Curry said he “didn’t have too much pain at all” throughout the game, but the severity of the injury and how it will effect his game, specifically in the earlier stages of the season, is yet to be seen. If he does play, he will be one to keep an eye on at all times.
Quinn Cook – G – Sophomore
Cook draws the toughest defensive match-up in the game with Georgia State’s Devonta White, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago. Cook will also be the team’s primary ball-handler for the first time in his career, which will give us a much better look at the Sophomore who flashed numerous signs of potential throughout his Freshman year.
Can he be a scorer? Can he be a reliable defender? Will he be able to adequately distribute the ball and run the Blue Devils’ offense throughout the course of a whole game? We’ll get an idea of the answers to these questions throughout the opener.
Murphy is a high energy Freshman who has shown numerous signs of potential along with signs of immaturity throughout Duke’s two exhibition games. Murphy appeared to have TOO high of a motor at times, outrunning the rest of the offense and racing straight into the heart of the defense on fastbreaks. His decision-making has been questionable, but that will improve with experience.
He has shown the ability to contribute on the wing both offensively and defensively. He won’t receive much of a test against Georgia State, but it will be interesting to see how the freshman performs in his first ever official game in a Duke uniform.