Duke

Duke has 6 players 6-9 or taller. Coach K says, ‘It’s the biggest team we’ve ever had.’

Duke guard Grayson Allen drives against Michigan State defenders on Nov. 29, 2016.
Duke guard Grayson Allen drives against Michigan State defenders on Nov. 29, 2016. cliddy@newsobserver.com

If one thing is certain about this Duke basketball team, it’s that height won’t be an issue.

Six players are listed at 6-9 or taller. Four of those players, coach Mike Krzyzewski said, should see a lot of playing time.

Duke has primarily been known for going small. Some of its best shot creaters, and outside shooters have played the “stretch-four.” Last season, it was 6-8 Jayson Tatum. The season before that, it was 6-9 Brandon Ingram. Before that it was 6-7 Justise Winslow. And before that, it was 6-8 Jabari Parker. So, many of its lineups in the past have utilized only one big man at a time.

“It’s the biggest team we’ve ever had,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s as athletic as any team we’ve had. It’s going to have lineups that we haven’t had. And that’s exciting and scary because we have to adapt a system where they feel comfortable in doing it.”

How Duke’s height will translate to the basketball court, though, won’t be certain until these players play. They are either freshmen or did not play much last season. But Krzyzewski said he hopes the added height will lead to good rebounding and defense. When Duke rebounds or comes up with a turnover, it can get out in transition and run.

“We want to run,” Krzyzewski said. “We are athletic, and we want to make good decisions while running.”

One of the big men Duke will rely on is freshman Marvin Bagley III, a 6-11, 234-pound forward, who has drawn the eyes of his teammates due to his athletic ability. Bagley was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2017, even after reclassifying from the Class of 2018. He’ll be joined by 6-10, 259-pound freshman power forward Wendell Carter, another top recruit, and returning sophomore center, Marques Bolden, who is 6-11, 246 pounds.

“One of the things for me, that I had to get used to was throwing the ball up there and letting him go get it,” senior guard Grayson Allen said. “Letting them go get lobs.”

“It’s a really, really talented group.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander

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