Duke's starting five

November 1, 2012 

Scouting the Blue Devils’ projected starting five.

PG Quinn Cook

Soph., 6-1, 175

4.4 points, 1.9 assists

Cook is the unquestioned starter at the point. Last year he was playing catch-up after taking the summer to recover from a knee injury, but a full offseason of work has his confidence back. He’ll need to make smart decisions and avoid the temptation to try to make every play a highlight-reel show.

“Strong point guard play will be critical for conference play,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “There are a number of good point guards out there. There are a lot of guys that are trying to prove themselves. There’s not a Kendall Marshall there. And certainly no Kyrie Irving.”

SG Rasheed Sulaimon

Fr., 6-4, 185

If Seth Curry were healthy, he would be the starting shooting guard, but he’s limited with a leg injury that Krzyzewski said could hamper him all season. So, at least initially, Sulaimon will get the nod. He can drive and provide on-ball defense if necessary. He’ll make mistakes early, but if he can develop, Sulaimon could be a huge factor in Duke making a deep run in March.

“There have been two different types of adjustments I’ve had to make, one mentally and one physically,” he said. “Definitely all the strenuous workouts are nothing like you do in high school. Mentally, you just try and push through fatigue.”

PF Mason Plumlee

Sr., 6-10, 235

11.1 points, 9.2 rebounds

Make no mistake, Plumlee is the key guy. He will be expected to produce consistently on offense, showing off his improved jump shot or finding teammates open looks when he draws a double team. Plumlee was also named one of Duke’s captains last spring, giving him more time to asset his leadership.

“You’ll see, I think he’s as good of player as there is in the country,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s almost 7-feet tall, and he’s shooting, handling, leading, wants to score inside. I really like where he’s at.”

PF Ryan Kelly

Sr., 6-11, 230

11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds

Fully recovered from his knee injury the kept him out of the ACC and NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils also need more consistency out of Kelly, who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting. While he remains the second-best outside shooter (behind Seth Curry), Kelly spent the summer working on his post game.

“I scored well at times, but then sometimes when I was cold and wasn’t shooting, I just didn’t help our team on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said of last year. “I need to be more consistent this year.”

SF Alex Murphy

Fr., 6-8, 220

The redshirt freshman instantly provides Duke with a piece last year’s team sorely missed: a lengthy wing. At 6-8, Murphy will be able to guard bigger guards, a task the fell to Andre Dawkins, Curry or Tyler Thornton last year. Murphy also should be able to help Plumlee and Kelly collect rebounds as well.

“Murph, I think a lot of the preseason ratings and stuff you guys are talking about, they don’t take into account Marshall and Alex Murphy,” Mason Plumlee said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Alex would have started some games for us last year. He’s athletic, he’s going to turn some heads right out of the gate.”

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