This is a much talked about topic every year in Duke basketball. The Duke bench this year has been inconsistent, but has also stepped up at times. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about the bench. I mean, I can understand why people are worried about the core group tiring out, weak legs in March and all that. This is concern for Scheyer, and Singler especially. We have to wonder if the shots that are falling now are not going to fall later on in the year. Well in thinking on it last night, I can understand why coach went with the core group for most of the game against Clemson, it was pretty much a must win, a statement game, and not a situation where freshman mistakes were going to be overcome with ease.Â As much as we want to see Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins come in and do their thing, this was probably not the game for that. Both freshmen have had things to overcome this year, Mason with his wrist injury which obviously put him behind in development, and the tragedy that Andre Dawkins has had to endure has to have had an effect on his play as well as his mental status in general. A game against Clemson, at Clemson is a very good way to ruin the confidence of youngsters in my opinion.
There will be plenty of chances for the freshmen to get time and experience under their belts,Â the best strategy may be to gradually work them in.
Some things that need to improve in order for that time to increase:
Andre Dawkins needs to pick it up on the defensive end, he’s looked lost as of late, and his shot selection has been a bit off as well. These things will come with time. Also ball-handling needs to become a focus in his development as well.
Mason Plumlee has tremendous upside, and if he can keep from picking up silly fouls and becoming a bit more aware of the court he will earn more minutes. He’s a good rebounder because of his athleticism but he can supplement that with positioning and boxing out. He will see more time, there is no way he wont, as the most talented big man on the team.
Ryan Kelly is going to be a work in progress, he’s running his own race and inching along, his shot has not been on all season and defensively he hasn’t made the strides he needs to in order to be called on very much. If he can knock down a few of those shots and get a handle on the speed of the game, he can be dangerous. We know he has Dunleavy-esque skills but hasn’t really been able to display those in the college game yet. His minutes are never going to big this year but with each game that passes we know he is soaking in all he can, he’s a smart and heady kid.