Things may not get crazy until this Friday, but the Duke basketball season began last week as the Blue Devils conducted their first official practice of the season this past Friday. Prior to practice, head coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke with reporters and addressed on and off-the-court issues surrounding the Duke basketball team as it prepares for the 2012-2013 campaign. Fans will get their first look at the Blue Devils Friday with Countdown to Craziness.
The Lance Thomas jewelry investigation
Krzyzewski spoke to reporters for the first time about the former Blue Devil Lance Thomas, who is currently being investigated by the NCAA about a jewelry purchase he made in December 2009. Thomas was initially sued by the jewelry company Rafaello and Co. regarding the balance of the purchase he made, but he is currently being investigated for the nature of the purchase—whether or not he received improper benefits in order to obtain the money or credit required for the $97,800 worth of merchandise.
Krzyzewski said he was first made aware of the lawsuit in September before it was made public. He subsequently contacted the Duke administration, who contacted the NCAA.
“We want to honor the integrity of that process, and that’s why I haven’t made any statements about it and will continue to do that,” he said. “I have complete trust and confidence in all the parties involved.”
Injuries to start the season
Krzyzewski also announced that the Blue Devils have two injured players: senior guard Seth Curry and redshirt freshman center Marshall Plumlee.
Krzyzewski described Curry’s ailment as a “little leg injury.” In the open practice available to the media afterwards, he was limited in his participation. Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon played with the white team in the portion of practice available to the media, along with Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Alex Murphy and Quinn Cook.
Marshall Plumlee, who has been wearing a walking boot after injuring his foot last Wednesday, will be out for an estimated six to eight weeks with a fracture of the second left metatarsal in his left foot.
Cook gets the nod at point
After seeing inconsistent minutes during his freshman season, Krzyzewski said sophomore Quinn Cook will start the year running the point, although he will split minutes with junior Tyler Thornton. Cook averaged 1.9 assists in 11.7 minutes per game last season, the best ratio on the team.
Cook started just four games last season while Thornton started 19.
“I like that duo. Strong point-guard play will be critical for conference play,” Krzyzewski said.
Curry, who saw some action at the position last year, and Sulaimon, will not be relied on to play point guard on the offensive end, Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski emphasizes defense
After the Blue Devils allowed opponents to score 68.1 points per game last season, Krzyzewski emphasized the team’s need to improve on the defensive end of the floor. After Duke often featured three-guard lineups last season, adding size to the perimeter with Sulaimon, Murphy and freshman Amile Jefferson could be key, Krzyzewski said.
“The history of our program has been based on really sound, good defense and I didn’t think we had that [last year]. I think we beat teams offensively last year,” Krzyzewski said. “We have much more length on our team this year. I don’t think we are a particularly fast team, but we are pretty long.”
Mason placed in the spotlight
After averaging 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds last season, Mason Plumlee decided to return for his senior season. Krzyzewski held no praise back of his veteran forward, who along with Kelly was named one of the two captains for the upcoming season.
“I think [Mason] is one of the best players in the United States,” Krzyzewski said. “Him having that type of year will be key for us. I’m very anxious to see how that will turn out. I’m excited for him.”