Man, it feels good to be wrong. Since the National Championship game, I said Kyle Singler..."/> Man, it feels good to be wrong. Since the National Championship game, I said Kyle Singler..."/> Man, it feels good to be wrong. Since the National Championship game, I said Kyle Singler..."/>

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Man, it feels good to be wrong.

Since the National Championship game, I said Kyle Singler would turn pro. I repeated it over and over again. Not only did I predict he would go, I said he should go. Yet here we are again, me…wrong.

You’d think I’d get tired of being wrong so often, but I’m not. Especially when being wrong means that my favorite college basketball team will be the favorites to repeat as champions.

As you’ve already figure out (or heard), Kyle Singler is returning for his senior season.

I have no idea if the decision was a right one or a wrong one. We won’t know that until next year’s draft. I can appreciate the kid for taking his time though, watching the basketball landscape, doing his research and making his decision.

With so many players heading to the pros, my guess is Singler was slipping down the draft boards. He would have more than likely stayed in the first-round, but it would have been late.

SO WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR DUKE?

Obviously I’m going to let the news settle in and I’ll do a more detail review of next year’s Blue Devils later, but clearly Duke is the No 1 team heading into the 2010-2011 season, which is only odd because the team is losing three very important starters.

How many teams can win the championship, lose three senior starters and walk back into the next season as favorites? That’s the modern day landscape of college basketball in a nutshell.

Think about this though, there is a good reason why only two teams in the past 30 years have repeated and the trick to those teams was the fact that they both basically had their entire starting lineup back the following year.

Of course, let’s not pretend Duke is walking away with the title next year. It’s not like they were the most dominating team this past year. Also, along with adding three new starters, the coaches will need to fit three new players (coming off the bench) into the rotation. The challenge for this team will be to find chemistry. Not everyone can be a superstar? Who’s going to step up and do the dirty work?

Having said all that, while next year’s Duke team will lose experience and leadership, they’ll be gaining the one thing Duke fans have been craving for…athleticism. The fact is, Kyle Singler will probably be the least “athletic” player in the regular rotation. That’s saying something.

The Starting five should be:
PG – K. Irving (Freshman)
SG – N. Smith (Senior)
SF – K. Singler (Senior)
PF – Ma. Plumlee (Sophomore)
C – Miles Plumee (Junior)

That’s a first-rate starting five. Irving is a stud and will return Duke to its dribble-drive roots. Players like Singler and Mason will only get better playing in a NBA-style system (yes, Irving is that good).

The key to any success though comes down to the Plumlee’s. The two brothers certainly improved late last year, but there was a reason why “less talented” players like Zoubek and Thomas were starting. For these two to be effective, they’ll need to own the paint on the defensive end and on the offensive end, they need to finish plays.

BENCH PLAYERS
G – S. Curry (Sophomore)
G – A. Dawkins (Sophomore)
F – T. Thornton (Freshman)
F – C. Felix (Sophomore)
F – J. Hairston (Freshman)
F – Ryan Kelly (Sophomore)

All these guys are capable of earning minutes next year. That’s 11 players that can fit into the rotation, although you know and I know Coach K isn’t going to have a 11-man rotation deep into the ACC season.

The problem the coaching staff needs to figure out is, our two best bench players will both be guards, Curry and Dawkins. Barring some kind of breakout campaign from either Hairston or Kelly, I suspect Singler will start at the 3-spot, but will see plenty of minutes at the 4-spot. This will allow the Devils to run three speedy, scoring guards.

SO WHO ELSE CAN COMPETE AND CHALLENGE DUKE?

– Michigan State? The Spartans will be a dangerous team. This group has been to two-straight Final Fours and the only player they are losing is Raymar Morgan. Izzo’s biggest problem will be, where to put his top-10 recruitment class.

– Butler? Not if Hayward doesn’t come back.

– Georgetown? If Monroe was back, then the Hoyas are a favorite. Still Freeman, Wright, Clark and Vaughn are a solid foursome, although who can come off the bench and steal some minutes?

– Purdue? They were early favorites, but then both Johnson and Moore declared. If they both leave, are the Boilermakers even a top-25 team anymore?

– Kentucky? Out goes one group of freshman, in comes another. Don’t be fooled. This group is not as talented. Plus, call me when Calipari actually wins a championship.

– Ohio State? They got a ton of freshman coming in and Jared Sullinger is my favorite freshman, not wearing a Duke uniform of course. Yet, experience will be an issue.

– North Carolina? The Tar Heels will be back competing this year, thanks to Harrison Barnes and about 30 guards on the roster. Problem is, I don’t trust that front court.

– Villanova? The Wildcats could surprise some people. Reynolds is gone, but maybe this is one of those “addition by subtraction” cases.

– Memphis? Talented….yes. Too young…probably.

– Kansas State? I love their guards. They could be ready to take over the Big 12.

Anyhow, I’ll have to do a lot more research before I can “predict” anything from teams outside the ACC.