Duke

The Acc

November 18, 2005|By PAUL MCMULLEN

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 26th season at school (648-187), 31st overall (721-246)

2004-05 record: 27-6, 11-5 (third in ACC; NCAA Sweet 16)

Returning starters: Senior G Sean Dockery, senior G J.J. Redick, senior F-C Shelden Williams

Sun prediction: NCAA champion

Why it will happen: The ACC is down, everywhere except Durham. Shooting guard Redick received a National Player of the Year award, and there's much more to his game than the three-pointer. There isn't a more complete big man in the nation than Williams, a shot-blocker deluxe who will be allowed to show off his shooting range for the NBA scouts. Dockery and wing Lee Melchionni have been capable role players. The freshman class is widely considered the best in America, with Greg Paulus being a pass-first point guard, Josh McRoberts (6-10, 230) and Eric Boateng (6-10, 255) being loads in the paint, and Jamal Boykin and Martynas Pocius bringing help on the wings.

Why it might not: What good is a bountiful bench if you don't use it? Krzyzewski has been reluctant to develop his rotation beyond eight men, and the Blue Devils have run out of gas in recent seasons. Duke attracts more than its share of prep All-Americans, but some lose interest as Krzyzewski goes with iron men like Redick, who averaged 37.3 minutes last season. Depth wouldn't have been an issue some seasons, if Krzyzewski had been willing to play zone. Cameron Indoor Stadium is the nation's best home-court advantage, but the NCAA is played on neutral courts.

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