Duke loses the core of Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry to graduation this spring, leaving big holes in the lineup.
That production will need to be filled by rotation players from last year such as Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton, Rasheed Sulaimon and Josh Hairston to make up for the lost production. Andre Dawkins will be back too. Marshall Plumlee will return to the floor. And highly-touted recruit Jabari Parker will make his way to Durham.
But the Blue Devils are expecting a lot from redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, who sat out last season following a transfer from Mississippi State. On Tuesday the new Duke forward wrote a piece for DukeBluePlanet.com explaining what he took away from in his first season with the Blue Devils.
“The main thing I learned sitting out is the intensity level and commitment you need to have to the game of basketball to be the best, wrote Hood. “That’s the main thing I learned this past season from Coach and my teammates. I didn’t think I could learn anything from Mason and the rest of the seniors, but I picked up little things from those guys each and every game.”
Hood went onto write about how in awe he was of Coach K and his passion for the game. Hood also believes he can become a leader by example and off the floor after seeing what it takes to be a part of a winning program.
As for the team next season, Duke loses its top rebounding on a poor rebounding team in Plumlee. The Blue Devils will need to rely on Marshall, who only played 50 minutes this season and is recovering from foot surgery. But Hood thinks their length and athleticism will still keep Duke in the hunt.
“I can imagine getting into people’s faces and trying to pressure the ball,” wrote Hood. “We will be really athletic and can take some chances on defense. We will see. There’s a lot of options for a team like this.”
The 6-foot-8 Hood averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in his lone season with Mississippi State.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.
During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.
In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.
“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”
Miller also released his apology in the same release.
“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.
For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.