New Year’s Resolutions: Duke Blue Devils

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES DUKE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Rebound the ball with consistency.

  • Why it will happen: Although the Blue Devils don’t have a lot of traditional post players that receive consistent minutes, they do have plenty of players — at multiple positions — that are willing to fight on the glass. Jabari Parker is undersized at the four from a rebounding standpoint against certain forwards, but he has at least six rebounds in all but one game this season and hovers near double-figures many games. Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton and Rasheed Sulaimon are also adequate-to-above average rebounders at guard and Amile Jefferson has received more minutes lately and averages five rebounds per game in 16 minutes of action. The Blue Devils are 259th in rebounds per game so far this season but have outrebounded their last three opponents — including Michigan — after their loss to Arizona at Madison Square Garden.
  • Why it won’t happen: No matter the effort, the Blue Devils are going to be undersized against many of the opponents they face on the interior. Josh Hairston (1.9 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game) will still get minutes inside for Duke as one of the team’s more experienced interior defenders but he doesn’t rebound at a high level and never has throughout the course of his career. And do the Blue Devils really want their go-to guy on offense spending so much energy fighting on the glass? That’s the question Duke will face with Parker as the season wears on.

WHAT DOES DUKE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Rely so heavily on Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.

  • Why it will happen: Rasheed Sulaimon finally showed some signs of life against UCLA after not even appearing in the Blue Devils’ win over Michigan and adding Sulaimon as another scoring option besides Parker, Hood and Quinn Cook would be huge for the Blue Devils. If Sulaimon is coming out of his early-season funk after his eight-point, five-rebound, four-assist performance against UCLA, it alleviates the offensive pressure put on Parker and Hood and gives opposing teams the nearly impossible task of defending four double-figure perimeter scorers.
  • Why it won’t happen: Would you want to go away from this dynamic duo? Parker is a potential National Player of the Year after his stellar opening to the season and Hood is a potential All-American that isn’t very far behind Parker from a production standpoint. Plus, both of them are shooting ridiculous percentages from everywhere on the floor. Both Parker and Hood are shooting 55 percent from the field and both of them are at or above 77 percent from the free throw line and at or above 43 percent from beyond the arc. Not only are Parker and Hood scoring at a high clip, but they’re doing so in an efficient manner. Why go away from what’s working?

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.