Coming off a strong finish last season, the 6' 5" Jon Scheyer leads a big lineup with bigger ideas than the Sweet 16.
This article appears in the November 23, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated
Last February, as Duke was in the midst of a dismal stretch in which it dropped four of six games, associate head coach Chris Collins called guard Jon Scheyer into his office and administered some tough love. "He didn't think I was playing with an edge," says Scheyer, now a senior. "It was hard to hear, but he was right." The pep talk provided a jolt, but what truly electrified Scheyer was the decision by coach Mike Krzyzewski to move him from shooting guard to point guard following a loss at Boston College on Feb. 15. After the switch Scheyer averaged 18.6 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals over the Blue Devils' final 12 games and was named MVP of the ACC tournament. "Jon was in a rut," Collins says. "The move allowed him to wipe the slate clean."
This season Scheyer is hoping for a happier ending. The Blue Devils were blitzed by Villanova 77-54 in the Sweet 16 last March, the fifth consecutive year they failed to reach the Elite Eight. Scheyer, who will resume point guard duties full time, is one of four returning starters?? on the biggest team Krzyzewski has coached in 30 years at Duke. The perimeter, which already included the 6' 5" Scheyer and 6' 2" junior guard Nolan Smith, will get taller this year when versatile junior Kyle Singler -- one of six players on the roster who are 6' 8" or taller -- moves to small forward.
All that size will reduce the team's overall quickness and limit the end-to-end pressure that has been a staple of Krzyzewski's best teams. He has already said this team will play more zone defense than his others. This time the Blue Devils' biggest asset will be the experience and competitiveness of its nucleus.
Over the summer Scheyer discovered that his parents still had the Villanova debacle on their DVR. Though he grew frustrated watching the game, he also gleaned a better understanding of what it will take to maintain his edge next March. "They were tougher and more together than us," he says. "We can't let that happen again."
-- Seth Davis
Issue date: November 23, 2009