Mar 28, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Quinn Cook during practice the day before the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
We are just fourteen hours away from Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils tipping-off their season against the Davidson Wildcats at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Here is what we’ll be focusing on during the contest:
How does Quinn Cook handle his new ‘role’?
It is no secret that Cook is best suited for an offense that relies on a primary ball handler, but with Duke loaded with guys who can handle the rock, the junior has had to readjust and fit himself into a much more fast-paced and diverse offense.
He was okay in the Blue Devils’ two exhibition games, but there were plenty of occasions where he looked like a man out of place. Yes, it appears he is shooting the ball just fine, but his off-ball movement, something he’ll be doing significantly more of this year, was very uninspiring.
The changes for Cook aren’t only on the offensive end, either, as the new hand-checking rule has caused quite a shift in the way the hands-on guard plays defense. From The Herald-Sun:
"“The hand-checking has been tough,” said Duke point guard Quinn Cook, who was called for four fouls in Duke’s 81-65 exhibition win over Drury on Saturday. “Especially the last game. I’ve got to be smart. Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) got on me in our meeting. He got on me about that. I have to be on the floor. I can’t be subbing in and out because of fouls. I have to be smart.”“Referees are on the lookout for that and for giving the offense more space,” Cook said."
If Cook can figure out how to succeed in his new role, it would only make Duke that much better. It all starts Friday, where we’ll be keeping an eye on how he manages to adjust to the changes.
Who gets the minutes?
The rotation at guard is a talented mess, where Coach K will have to juggle minutes for Rasheed Sulaimon, Matt Jones, Andre Dawkins, Tyler Thornton, and Cook. It was already complicated enough before Jones had to go and perform far beyond expectations in practice and exhibitions, now the rotation is just silly.
We weren’t able to get much of a grasp on the rotation during the exhibitions, as Sulaimon sat out their final contest against Drury with an ‘illness’. Against Davidson, we’ll receive our first, full-on look at how Krzyzewski handles all the guards.
Can the Blue Devils win on the boards?
Last year, one of the team’s biggest problems was their inability to rebound, and with this year’s team lacking size, it will certainly be something we should pay attention to. The non-stop hustle and freakish athleticism out of forwards Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker make up for the lack of a sturdy, reliable post presence, but a poor performance on the boards against defending Div II champion Drury left some wondering if it could turn into a legitimate problem this year…again.
The Wildcats won’t present the biggest threats, as they lack a wide array of big men that can consistently rebound, but it will be worth a look to see what kind of effort the Blue Devils turn in.
It is just early season rust, right?
Dec 10, 2011; New York, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Andre Dawkins (20) during the second half of the game against the Washington Huskies at the Carquest Auto Parts Classic held at Madison Square Garden. Duke won 86 – 80. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Probably the biggest negative that stuck out in the two exhibition games was Duke’s inability to knock down three-pointers. Yes, this team lacks those elite three-point guys they always seem to have, but no one could have predicted that a Mike Krzyzewski team would come out and shoot 25% beyond the arc against the likes of Bowie State and Drury.
For the record, I do still believe it is just early season kinks, rather than something to be worried about moving forward, but it would be nice for the Blue Devils to turn in a decent performance in the area.
What will you be paying attention to most in Duke’s season opener? Are there any specific areas that worry you with this team? Sound off in the comment section below!