?F- 10 Brennen Hughes (5.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
F- 33 Kyle Wolf (6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
?C- 24 Dillon Deck (13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
G- 12 T.J. White (7.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
?G- 04 Preston Brunz (5.4 ppg, 41% 3pt)
?Much like the Blue Devils, Central Missouri’s best player is the starting center. Unlike Duke, however, it’s unlikely that Dillion Deck is going to factor into the NBA Draft’s First Round come June. Still, Deck is a solid player who operates in the paint and uses his 6-foot-9, 240 pound frame to score efficiently (61.3 percent from the field). Defensively, Deck blocks about a shot per game and is just three swats shy of moving into the program’s all-time top 10 in that category
Winning Mentality: The Mules enter the game against Duke as defending NCAA-II National Champions. Central Missouri has a history of success as the third winningest program in NCAA-II history. The program needs just three victories to eclipse 1,600 wins in 110 seasons of play. Last season the Mules won more than 20 games for the 23rd time in the program’s history. They’ve won 30 or more games in a season thrice, including last year’s.
The Mules return two starters from last season’s 30-5 squad along with eight rotational players. It’s enough turnover to dissuade the voters from showing the defending champions any love on a national scale. Central Missouri is ranked first in the preseason MIAA poll, but are nowhere to be found in the national NCAA-II polls.
While the program has a proud history, the coach is somewhat short on experience. The Mules hired head coach Doug Karleskint from Arkansas Tech after Kim Anderson was hired to coach at Missouri. Karleskint’s career record at Arkansas Tech was a solid 90-34 and included a run to the NCAA-II’s Sweet 16.
Less Depth In Durham: Following the win over Livingstone in the exhibition opener, head coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted he wanted to make sure everyone played more/less equal minutes against a clearly overmatched opponent. The Duke head coach then mentioned that he’d do things a bit different against Central Missouri. In the opener Duke was able to place seven players in double figures and every player logged at least 16 minutes. Look for the starting five of Okafor, Jefferson, Winslow, Jones, and Jones to play some extended minutes together as the team looks to solidify the rotation and continue to build in advance of the season opener against Presbyterian on November 14th, followed immediately by the game against Fairfield on the 15th.
Defense 101: One of the major offseason focuses has been improving on the defensive side of the ball. Duke held Livingston to just 41 percent from the floor in the opener and 24 percent in the first half while forcing 21 turnovers. The Blue Devils also owned the glass to the tune of a 46-27 overall tally which included 16 offensive boards. A season ago the Mules shot just under 50 percent from the field as a team and out-rebounded their opponents by more than five boards per game. As a team the Mules turned it over just over 10 times per contest, while forcing 13.3 mistakes from their opponents.
A Tradition Unlike Any Other: For years Duke has made a habit of playing the D-II Champions as part of the preseason slate. A year ago the Blue Devils beat defending champion Drury 81-65. In 2012 Duke defeated Western Washington 105-87. In 2011 it was Bellarmine visiting Cameron and playing to an 87-62 decision. The tradition of playing the Division II Champion began in 2010 with Findlay coming in and being pounded by an 84-48 margin.
They Said It:“It’s not only new and neat for these players but for coaches, such as myself, because we’ve never done anything like this before. It’s going to be great day November 8th when we battle against those guys.” - Doug Karleskint
“I hate to say it, more importantly because it’s coach’s cliche, but basketball is basketball and we’re going to treat it as another game.” - Karleskint on Duke.