Streaking the Lawn had the chance to sit down with Mike Kline of Duke Sports Blog to see what he thought about his team heading into the upcoming season. Let's see what he had to say (hint: he seems to like Virginia's squad)!
Streaking the Lawn: How much longer is Coach K going to be prowling the sidelines at Cameron Indoor?
Duke Sports Blog: I think he is likely to be there at least another 5 years, but it could be longer. He is 65 now so most coaches are slowing down by then, but as you see from his never changing hair the man doesn't necessarily look like he is ready to play grandpa full time. If I had to put an exact number I'd say 8 years 10 tops. But he can go anytime he wants.
STL: What was your biggest loss from last season's team?
DSB: Talent wise, clearly the loss of Austin Rivers is the biggest loss, but I'm going to say that it is Miles Plumlee. Especially now that Duke has lost younger brother Marshall for at least a month. They are thin in the front court and aside from Mason Plumlee, they don't have an experienced or natural true-post players. Rivers was talented but a polarizing figure among fans and allegedly some teammates. Not sure if those rumors are true or not and I'm not one to buy into them, but I think this will be a closer team without him and one that relies more on the collective and not just one skilled players.
STL: Who is the newcomer that you think will make the biggest impact this year?
DSB: I think Duke has the potential to have two. One isn't all that new but will be new to the rest of the ACC. Alex Murphy redshirted last season and based on what I've heard and now seen of his game he has all the talent to be an All-ACC type player. He will be Duke's best wing player. He is athletic and versatile. He can shoot, rebound, and run the floor. If he plays solid defense the sky is the limit. I also think that true freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon is shaping up to be a very good players. He can play defense as he demonstrated in several of the all-star games back in high school and he has a solid offensive game. He can put the ball on the floor and appears to be able to run the floor and get into the lane. He can play either guard position and is a good shooter. I think both of these guys could start at some point this year.
STL: The Blue Devils were picked to finish second in the ACC this season. Fair? Not Fair? And how weird is it to be picked behind N.C. State?
DSB: I think it is fair. NC State obviously appears to have the most talented team on paper and that is all pre season accolades are good for. We will see if State is up to the task of taking the pressure of being the top dog. It wasn't all that long ago, okay maybe it was, that NC State, Duke and North Carolina are were always up there battling for the title, but the Wolf Pack fell off. Kudos to Mark Gottfried for his recruiting efforts but now the rubber meets the road. Can he coach? I think State will be good but will they be good enough, I'm not sure. I'm not sure as a Duke guy that I feel slighted and kind of like the idea of everyone over looking Duke or not just expecting them to win it all. Less pressure that way and maybe a little less Duke hate. One can hope.
STL: Which Duke player does Virginia need to watch out for most this year?
DSB: I really don't know. This Duke team is shaping up to be one of those "on any given night teams." Mason Plumlee is the only Duke representative on the preseason ACC team but I'm not entirely convinced he will be Duke's best player night in and night out. He hasn't been so in three years so I'm not sure if he will be consistent enough this season to be the guy day in and day out. It could be Murphy, Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry on any given night but that might be a good thing, though it could be just as easily be a bad thing if no one shoots.
STL: Which of Virginia's players gives you the most concern?
DSB: I have an immense amount of respect for a guy like Joe Harris. He is one tough kid and the kind of player that can drive an opponent nuts. Virginia has got some talent and they have a unique system and a skilled coach. I don't look forward to Duke's trip up to JPJ on Feb. 28. Tony Bennett is the kind of coach who gets his entire team playing within his system and is getting the talent to make those games in Charlottesville memorable again. And for what it is worth I think UVA is underrated in the preseason rankings and could shock some people Duke included.