Mike Krzyzewski

Duke hopes new versatility leads to a Final Four run

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Duke is hoping that it’s newfound versatility will help the Blue Devils advance to the Final Four.

Final Fours are always the expectation in Durham and although they lost three experienced seniors in Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, they gain two of the most versatile wings in the country in Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and highly-touted incoming freshman Jabari Parker.

With the start of practice yesterday, the AP’s Joedy McCreary gained some insight on how the Blue Devils might play this season with the new-look lineup.

“It’s not like one guy is trying to beat out one guy — basically, you’re trying to blend,” Krzyzewski said in the AP story. “The two guys you initially want to blend with are Rodney and Jabari because they’re two very talented and versatile players. So that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Among the most interesting tidbits from the story is Coach K explaining how Duke is not a conventional team this season and he also sheds some light on a potential starting lineup.

Krzyzewski said his 34th Duke team is “not your conventional team of, ‘Here are your two big guys, your wing, your shooter and your point guard.’

“It’s going to be a team that has, I think, very good versatility,” he added. “Guys are going to have to be able to guard multiple positions. I hope that we’ll be able to make sure they do that.”

The coach said the only starters he’s settled on so far are Hood, Parker, high-energy forward Amile Jefferson “and probably Quinn” Cook, last year’s starting point guard.

Krzyzewski also compared this Duke team to the ultra-athletic late ’90s, early 2000s teams, which is an interesting comparison.

If this year’s Blue Devils are going to compare to those late ’90s, early 2000s teams, Hood and Parker are going to have to do the brunt of the scoring and Duke is also going to need a third scoring option to step up.

But with Hood and Parker being matchup nightmares with great size and versatility on the wing, most teams will be hard-pressed to defend both of them well every possession.

WATCH LIVE: St. Bonaventure hosts Saint Louis on NBCSN

St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg celebrates after they defeated St. Joseph's after an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Philadelphia.  (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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St. Bonaventure is looking to keep pace with the Atlantic 10’s elite as they host Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. You can watch this A-10 contest live on NBCSN at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Coming off of a huge road win at Saint Joseph’s, the Bonnies (14-6, 6-3) have won two consecutive games with a winnable stretch of two more before a key conference clash with George Washington. The trio of Marcus Posley (19.1 ppg), Jaylen Adams (18.5 ppg) and Dion Wright (16.2 ppg) has been putting up a ton of points this season and slowing down that group will be the focal point of the Saint Louis defense.

The Billikens (8-13, 3-6) are coming off of two consecutive double-digit losses and will try to regroup on the road. Senior guard Ash Yacoubou paces the Saint Louis offense at 12.2 points per game and junior guard Mike Crawford (10.9 ppg) is the only other player averaging double-figures.

These two teams will play again on March 5 when the Bonnies head to the Midwest.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.