With a week off since its last game, we turned to our Twitter account, @dukebasketball, to ask if people had any questions about Duke basketball before it faces Temple Saturday in N.J. Chronicle basketball beat writer Brady Buck answers some of the questions below.
Brady Buck: Marshall Plumlee has practiced with the team this week. He could dress out against Temple on Saturday, but there are no guarantees. If not, there are 11 days before the next game, when he should be suiting up unless there are any setbacks. Be sure and follow our @DukeBasketball account Saturday, and in the ensuing weeks, for all the latest information on Marshall’s status.
BB: As the best player on the team, Mason Plumlee—who is arguably the frontrunner for National Player of the Year right now—is the team’s most important player. He’s averaging 19.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per contest so far this season. In order to make a deep run in the tournament, Plumlee will have to keep playing at a high level. His services on the glass, however, might be the most crucial component of his game, given Duke’s rebounding deficiencies so far this year.
BB: Going off the last question, yes, there is more than a realistic chance that Mason Plumlee wins the National Player of the Year. In fact, If it were decided today, Plumlee would likely win the award. Right now, Plumlee is No. 11 in the country in rebounding and N0. 34 in scoring, and he’s put up these numbers against three top-five teams already to help the Blue Devils get off to an 8-0 start.
BB: I do not believe Duke will go undefeated. The last college basketball team to finish the year perfectly was Indiana in 1975-76 at 32-0. As good as the Blue Devils have looked so far, they do not have the dominating firepower needed to finish the year with an unblemished record. Duke will likely drop one or two conference games when Mason Plumlee gets in foul trouble and/or the team struggles find its groove from 3-point range. Given the light Dec. schedule, I do think Duke will enter its showdown at N.C. State on Jan. 12 with an undefeated record.
BB: I’d be surprised if the Owls are able to make this a close one. Temple only beat Delaware—who Duke beat by 38 last week—by a margin of five points this year. The Owls have not faced a ranked opponent yet either this year.
Senior guard Khalif Wyatt came up big for Owls with 22 points in last year’s upset win over Duke, so neutralizing him will be a priority for the Blue Devils.
BB: After the Delaware game last week, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski indicated that he expects Curry to play against Temple. I think sitting him out last Saturday was more precautionary than anything. He looked tired, understandably after the Battle 4 Atlantis, and rest is key for his leg injury.
BB: In 2013, Duke has reached out to Gavin Schilling a 6-foot-9 power forward from Findlay Prep (Nev.). Right now, the relationship is in the infant stages. We’ll monitor this recruitment closely as Duke could use another post player in 2013-14 since it will lose Plumlee and Kelly, and it missed 2013 recruit Austin Nichols, who signed with Memphis.
As for 2014, the Blue Devil coaching staff is all-in for Jahlil Okafor, who is widely considered a top-two player in the class. Okafor visited in October for Countdown to Craziness. At 6-foot-10 and 270 pounds, the Chicago native is a rarity in today’s game—a true big-bodied, back-to-the-basket post player with soft hands and excellent footwork.