Six of coach Mike Krzyzewski's seven Final Four teams at Duke
had signature point guards. The exception: the squad that lost
the 1994 NCAA title game to Arkansas. That team, however, had
Grant Hill, a 6'8" forward who was able to orchestrate the
offense with aplomb.
Lacking a player of Hill's talent, the 1996-97 Blue Devils will
have to find another way to overcome the absence of an
established point man if they want to be a part of the
proceedings next spring in Indianapolis. "If everyone's trying
to be equal and you need that guy who can direct everything,
then not having a true point guard can be a problem," says
Krzyzewski. "What we need is for a couple of guys to emerge. If
you want to have a good team, a few guys have to be willing to
The good news is that this Duke team, unlike the squads of the
last two seasons, has a plethora of candidates who could play
that role. Junior swingman Ricky Price might be the leading
choice. He was the team's third-highest scorer (14.2 points per
game) last year and single-handedly cemented Duke's place in the
NCAA tournament field with a game-winning, buzzer-beating
three-pointer at Maryland in the final week of the regular
Krzyzewski has asked Price to take his game the next step this
season, and he seems eager to comply. "I think there were times
in the past I could have asserted myself more," Price says.
"That's just a lack of maturity and confidence. This year it's
going to be something I look forward to doing."
November 15, 1996
Senior guard Jeff Capel has certainly never lacked confidence,
especially when it comes to shooting the ball. Last year he set
a single-season school record for three-point attempts (221),
though he hit just 33% from beyond the arc. Another go-to
possibility is senior center Greg Newton, who added 20 pounds of
muscle to his 6'10" frame over the summer. After two nondescript
years in Durham, Newton broke out last season, averaging 12.2
points and 8.2 rebounds a game.
Two players who sat on the sideline last year will also figure
prominently in the mix. Sophomore guard Trajan Langdon, who won
acclaim as the best player ever to come out of the state of
Alaska, turned in a stellar freshman campaign in 1994-95 but sat
out last season with an injured left knee. He underwent surgery
in March, and though he did not participate in team pickup games
in September, Langdon hopes to be ready for the start of the
season. Roshown McLeod, a 6'8" transfer from St. John's, should
start at forward for the next two years.
Thanks largely to a three-man freshman class that is ranked
among the nation's best, the Blue Devils' depth will allow them
to play the kind of hard-nosed man-to-man defense that has been
the hallmark of Duke's best teams. "We'll have a healthy
atmosphere of internal competition that we haven't had in a
little while," Krzyzewski says. "We don't want to be a team of
potential. We want to be a team of accomplishment."
THE DATA BOX
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Career record: 449-199 (21 seasons)
Record at Duke: 376-140 (16 seasons)
1995-96 record: 18-13 (final ranking: none)
ACC record: 8-8 (fourth)
PG *Jeff Capel, 6'5", Sr.
Led team with 16.6 points per game
SG Trajan Langdon, 6'3", Soph.
His return to full strength critical for Devils
SF *Ricky Price, 6'5", Jr.
Future star, but had 87 turnovers in '95-96
PF Roshown McLeod, 6'8", Jr.
First transfer Coach K has ever accepted
C *Greg Newton, 6'10", Sr.
Duke's top rebounder, with 8.2 per game
Dec. 8 vs. Michigan
Non-ACC teams are 1-100 at Duke since 1983
Dec. 14 at Villanova
Early test will show what Blue Devils are made of
Dec. 22 vs. Army
Coach Krzyzewski faces alma mater for first time
Jan. 29 vs. North Carolina
Blue Devils have lost seven straight to archrival
Feb. 23 at UCLA
Can Duke repeat last year's 19-point win in Pauley?