Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Smith And Plumlee Starting For Duke; ACC Media Day

Posted by Zach on October 27, 2008

Seth Davis attended Duke’s practice over this weekend and wrote an in-depth rundown over at SI.com (By the way, since Clark Kellogg is now the #1 play-by-play man for CBS, Davis will be joined by Greg Anthony in the studio for their college basketball coverage). He writes about how Jon Scheyer will take the big shots for the Dukies, how Kyle Singler put on 20 pounds to counter the workload of playing in the post, and how bust Lance Thomas (should have gone to Rutgers) may find himself in the outside looking in with Coach K’s man crush David McClure, 7-foot stiff Brian Zoubek and 6’8 freshman forward Miles Plumlee receiving more playing time.

The story of Plumlee is ironic because Duke scooped him up after he de-committed from Stanford when Trent Johnson left for LSU. Of course, Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins ended up taking the Stanford job. Coach K didn’t do any favors for his long-time assistant and continued to pursue the improving Plumlee. I thought Plumlee would spend a year off the bench as a role player getting asserted into the Duke mindset, but their lack of size (and faith in Thomas) means he might start at the 5-spot.

Davis: For someone who is as young and tall as he is, Plumlee has plenty of meat on his bones, and he is very agile to boot. (Krzyzewski told me he jumped 6 feet, 9 inches for his high school track team.) He seemed a little lost at times basketball-wise, but that’s nothing unusual considering it was only his fourth practice. Plumlee is Duke’s best shot-blocker, and he fits the Blue Devils’ wide-open style much better than 7-1 sophomore center Brian Zoubek. If the season started today, Plumlee would be Duke’s starting center.

Also surprising is near confirmation that Nolan Smith will start at point guard for the Blue Devils over three-year starter and senior Greg Paulus. Paulus was slowed by knee injuries over the summer and the vast improvement of Smith, along with his athleticism and purer point guard skills, appear to have given him the edge.

Smith had a listless workout when I was there, but that’s only because he was trying to shake off a stomach virus that had him vomiting for two straight days. Everybody I talked to, Krzyzewski included, said that Smith had played better in the summer and fall than any other player. And when I raised the question to Coach K that this development might be tough for Paulus to deal with, he brushed me off. “There’s only one ego on this team, and that’s our team ego,” he said. “So everybody is responsible for doing what’s best for the team. This isn’t some inherited wealth. Each year you have to earn it. That doesn’t mean Greg’s a bad player, but right now Nolan would start.”

I asked Krzyzewski if he had talked to Paulus about this. “We talk to all of our guys. We’re a program of full disclosure,” he said. “You have good chemistry by telling the truth. You can tell a lie without ever saying anything, just by not playing the right people.”

Surely a bold move by Coach K and we’ll see how long it lasts. I wouldn’t doubt the motives of Coach K, though; for all of Paulus’ talent, he knows his players more than anyone. And having Paulus’ shots off the bench could be genius. Expect a small crunch time team of Smith-Paulus-Scheyer-Henderson-Singler.

Today was ACC Media Day in Atlanta and here were the final results for preseason standings/teams (rundown of various thoughts by Jeff Goodman here):

1. North Carolina (unanimous 1st place)
2. Duke
3. Wake Forest
4. Miami
5. Clemson
6. Virginia Tech
7. Maryland
8. Georgia Tech
9. N.C. State
10. Florida State
11. Boston College
12. Virginia

(I’d have BC slightly higher, and NC State could emerge if the reports of Brandon Costner looking like the Costner of old are indeed true. Not sure about Georgia Tech; Shumpert may be their best weapon).

All-Conference Team
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina (unanimous)
Tyrese Rice, Boston College (unanimous)
Jack McClinton, Miami
Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Gerald Henderson, Duke

(No arguments from me here. Toney Douglas of Florida State is my sleeper for this team after the season).

Player of the Year
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Rookie of the Year
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

I’m loaded the next two nights so expect my #3 Big East team (Notre Dame) on Wednesday.

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