AP: Duke Gives Up Speed for Size, but Doesn't Sacrifice Success
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
HOUSTON, Texas — The changes weren't as radical as Vincent Van Gogh forsaking his brushes to spray paint graffiti on highway overpasses, or Luciano Pavarotti fronting for Rage Against The Machine.
But when guard Elliot Williams announced in June he was transferring from Duke (and ultimately to Memphis), it became immediately obvious that the Blue Devils would have to change.
Playing with the old Duke staples — an attacking, fast-paced style and full-court defensive pressure — no longer was possible.
The departure of the jet-quick Williams left the Blue Devils with only two true guards on scholarship in Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. And although Andre Dawkins hustled through summer school courses and enrolled a year early as a freshman to add depth, speed was not going to be the strength of this team.
But the Blue Devils possessed one quality they've almost never had under coach Mike Krzyzewski. They had five players 6 feet 8 or taller who were ready to play significant roles.
So Krzyzewski changed his system to fit them and reconstructed Duke into one of the nation's top teams.
The bigger, tougher Blue Devils earned a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA tournament after capturing a share of the ACC's regular-season title and winning its second straight ACC tournament.