If you were to slap a mid-major team’s jersey on the Duke Blue Devils, no one would be the wiser. Mike Krzyzewski has had his teams playing a form of basketball that is usually only used by teams with lesser talent for some time now. While that may sound like a knock, it is actually a compliment.
Duke doesn’t recruit a lot of one-and-runs. In fact, it seems like Coach K exclusively recruits players he knows will stick around for at least three years. There is some exceptions to the rules, but they are more of an abnormality rather than the norm.
Many of the best players on the Blue Devils are currently seniors. Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee all have been with the program longer than most people with their talent usually are.
Obviously, having a slew of seniors as primary contributors to a team will give an increase in leadership and stability to a program. It has also allowed Krzyzewski to implement an offense that needs time to develop properly.
The Blue Devils rely heavily on 3-pointers, transition offense and big-men who know their role to near perfection. It requires a point guard to have a natural feel for his teammates and pushing the style of play down their opponent’s throat. Rather than reacting, Duke forces their foes to adjust to their style of play.
This is something many mid-majors really on, especially come the NCAA Tournament. The difference between them and Duke? Well, the Blue Devils have superior talent.
Krzyzewski runs a power-program like few others. Most of his players are not going to the pros early, many of them do not develop into solid players until late in their sophomore years, and none of them rely on isolation basketball. His formula is not new or revolutionary to college basketball, but it is completely rare at a level of program as high as Duke’s.
People like to poke fun at Duke from time to time. They say that their frontcourt is full of white players who will never do anything after they graduate. That their guards seem like the same player year in and year out. That each version of Duke seems eerily similar to the team they saw in the same uniforms three years ago.
It works. Nobody can deny the success of Krzyzewski’s formula for winning. Like fine wine, Duke gets better with time and never seems to get stale.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone