After a week off for finals, Duke returns to action this week as the No. 1 team in the nation after Indiana lost to Butler 88-86 in overtime this weekend. In a busy week with two games—against Cornell and Elon—and top recruit Jabari Parker's decision, we asked our followers on Twitter from our account @dukebasketball if they have any questions. Here they are and our answers:
@dukebasketball What should we expect from Marshall when he returns? #AskChron
— Josh Hill (@RacerSax03) December 16, 2012
Andrew Beaton: After a wait for nearly a year-and-a-half, Duke fans should finally get a look at Marshall Plumlee this week. Plumlee redshirted last year and suffered a stress fracture in his foot before this season started, but he finally dressed for the game against Temple, with Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski saying MP3 really has a chance at playing in these upcoming games against Cornell and Elon.
In terms of what to expect? It's tough to say, but coaches have said over and over again this season that if Marshall were healthy, he could have been the sixth man to start the season. Coach K uses a notoriously short rotation—he has heavily relied on his starters in the close games this season—and breaking into that rotation midseason will be difficult. But the Blue Devils have a dearth of frontcourt depth and have been beaten on the boards, so he will no doubt get the chance to prove that he has a role on this top-ranked squad.
The timing of his return is good too. Although you can never peg any games as shoe-in victories, Cornell and Elon don't figure to be the most difficult of opponents. So, all in all, this will be a good time for him to make his debut—the pressure won't be too high, and if the games aren't close, he should be able to get more minutes than he might otherwise.
@dukebasketball Do you think it's 50-50 with MSU for Parker or do you think he's leaning towards one school more? #AskChron — The Wizard of Boz (@bozbell) December 16, 2012
AB: Jabari Parker—the No. 2 recruit in the nation—has been extremely tight-lipped in his recruitment. His father said that he expects the decision to come down to Duke and Michigan State, and many recruiting analysts have the Blue Devils pegged at slight favorites. Still, anything beyond that is such speculation—nobody will likely know the decision until it comes out of Parker's mouth on Thursday.
All that being said, for speculation's sake, the Duke staff must like their chances. Coach K is coming off a gold medal with Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics and has led the Blue Devils to an undefeated start, including three wins against top-five teams. Parker may have other priorities, which is why this is all speculation, but it's difficult to point to a hotter coach in the nation right now than Krzyzewski.
@dukebasketball Whose defense possesses the greatest risk of disrupting the good ball movement going on at Cameron? #AskChron
— Ruben Luna (@rubenthenextGL) December 16, 2012
AB: Defensive statistics are tough to measure early in the season, because so much really depends on pace of play and early-season opponents. For now, let's just focus on the ACC. If I had to pick one team, Tony Bennett's Virgina squad has brought one of the most frustrating defensive squads to the table. Their defense is holding opponents to 50.0 PPG, the second-fewest in the nation. Just by slowing things down, they could give Duke a tough game—the teams play once this regular season, Feb. 28 in Charlottesvillle. Virginia is 8-2 to start the year after a 1-2 start to the season with losses to George Mason and Delaware—the Cavaliers have turned it on lately. They have held their last two opponents to under 40 points and have won six in a row, now owning wins over Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Duke just barely eked out a 61-58 win against Virginia last year, and even though this year's team doesn't have Mike Scott, Bennet's system keeps things slow and is sure to frustrate offenses. Does that mean I think Virginia is the second best team in the ACC or has the best chance to beat Duke the rest of the way? Nah. But it's difficult to not admire what Bennett has done, and he is sure to frustrate any opposing coach with the hustle his team puts out there.
#AskChron what are the college majors of the Duke players? — Marius Valdes (@zoovaldes) December 17, 2012
AB: A non-basketball question! At Duke, you don't have to declare your major until the end of the sophomore year, so Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook, Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee all have yet to declare (in all likelihood, I mean, I didn't declare until the last second possible anyway).
Not all of the rest of the players have their major listed, here's what the seniors are majoring in: Mason Plumlee (psychology and cultural anthropology), Ryan Kelly (public policy) and Seth Curry (sociology and African-Americn Studies).