With three games in the next three days, Duke will have to manage Seth Curry's playing time accordingly. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
Note: A cross-promotion: check out my Thanksiving Day story on the emotional recovery of Jamison Crowder. His parents, coaches, teammates and friends lent invaluable support in the aftermath of the jet ski accident that left teammate Blair Holliday unresponsive in a coma and Crowder physically unharmed. Both have come a long way since then.
Duke vs. Minnesota
When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahamas
TV/Radio: AXS.tv/WKIX-102.9 FM
Projected starting lineups:
No. 5 Duke (3-0)
G Quinn Cook, So., 7.7 ppg, 4.7 apg
G Seth Curry, Sr., 16.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg
G Rasheed Sulaimon, Fr., 11.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
F Ryan Kelly, Sr., 10.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg
F Mason Plumlee, Sr., 21.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg
G Andre Hollins, So., 9.3 ppg, 5.0 apg
G Joe Coleman, So., 10.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
G Austin Hollins, Jr., 14.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg
F Rodney Williams, Sr., 14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg
C Elliott Eliason, R-So., 3.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Player to watch
Seth Curry, junior, Duke
Curry has been managing a right shin injury that has plagued him since the summer, but you wouldn’t know it by his production on the court. He’s averaging 29.3 minutes per game, and he posted his second-highest point total at Duke (23) against Kentucky.
The shin, though, has severely limited the amount of practicing Curry has done. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski did say Curry will play against Minnesota, but with Duke playing three games in three days, it will be interesting to see how Curry is used.
“You have to be smart in how you get rest,” assistant coach Jeff Capel said.
***Minnesota is just outside the AP Poll with 93 votes (No. 25 San Diego State received 98). Las Vegas believes in the Gophers, too—Duke is just a 3-point favorite.
***Minnesota’s most dangerous player may not be in the starting rotation. Trevor Mbakwe, a sixth year senior, is recovering from an ACL tear that cost him the majority of last season and has come off the bench in every game this year. So far, he is averaging 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. The 2010-11 second-team All-Big Ten selection has had a turbulent career at best.
After a year at Marquette, Mbakwe transferred to Miami Dade College, where he was charged with felony assault. Prior to the 2009-10 season, he transferred to Minnesota but could not play because the case was pending. He was reinstated Aug. 2010 after entering a pretrial intervention program.
That year, by far his most successful on the court, Mbakwe averaged 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. arrested in Jan. 2011 for sending a Facebook message to a woman with a restraining order against him and then criticized her on Twitter following his release from jail. This past July, he was arrested and charged with DUI.
“I know he made a mistake, but we've come this far with him and he's been through a serious injury,” head coach Tubby Smith said at the Gophers’ preseason media day. “One of the things I think, Trevor has the possibility of making a livelihood in this profession, playing basketball, so I wanted to make sure we gave him the opportunity as long as he does the things that we expect and require him to do."
Mbakwe has pledged to return his scholarship money to the school if the Gophers don’t make the NCAA Tournament this year. Last year, Minnesota was the runner-up in the NIT.