While the "Countdown to Craziness" is still ongoing, and will be until October 18th, the Duke Basketball team will officially kick off their full practices this afternoon. On May 2nd of this year, the Division I Board of Directors met and approved new regulations that allows men’s basketball teams to conduct 30 days of practice in the six weeks before their first regular-season game. Like other schools, Duke is taking advantage of the rule change by holding its initial practice on the first possible day allowed.
After the staff meets with the media from 2:45-3:15, the team will kick off the 2013-14 season with a two hour long practice. The team has been doing individual and small group drills for most of the summer, with the NCAA allowing two hours per week of practice time. However, this will be the first "official" practice for freshmen Matt Jones, Jabari Parker and Semi Ojeleye. Parker was named to CBSSports.com's Preseason All-American Second Team and will be carrying high expectations throughout what is expected to be his only season as a Blue Devil. Ojeleye is an incredible athlete who posted team-high marks in the standing and running vertical leap test performed earlier this week. He'll be battling for playing time all year behind projected starters in the post Parker and Amile Jefferson, as well as entrenched veterans Alex Murphy, Marshall Plumlee and Josh Hairston.
Gone are last year's starters Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry but there are many who believe this year's team will be more talented. Point guard Quinn Cook is one year older and much stronger, per sources. Rasheed Sulaimon will be able to move back to his natural shooting guard position with Curry off to the NBA. And Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, who was named to CBSSports.com's Preseason All-American Third Team, is expected to flourish at the small forward position. Andre Dawkins, who sat out last year with personal issues, is back to provide depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Projected senior captain Tyler Thornton will again backup Cook at the point guard slot.
Today's practice will be a big step towards what is expected to be a fast-paced, high intensity offensive style for the Blue Devils. There are a number of athletic wings on the team and nearly every player is able to play multiple positions. Should be a throwback to the early 90s and 2000s teams that overwhelmed their opponents offensively.
Duke fans will get their first live look at the time tomorrow morning in an open practice that will be held in Cameron Indoor Stadium starting at 10AM. Doors to the gym open at 9AM for the crowd to fill the upper deck. Admission is free and a big crowd is expected due to it being homecoming weekend. If you are unable to attend, the event will be streamed live on GoDuke.com for Inside Access members.
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