Preview: Duke v. Fla. Southern

A look ahead to the Blue Devils' first exhibition game against the defending NCAA Division II National Champions.

0-0 Overall, 0-0 Conference 


F- 10 Dylan Karell (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
F- 15 Dylan Travis (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
G- 02 Michael Volovic (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
G- 44 Sheldon Zablotny (0.0 ppg, 0.0 apg)
G- 12 Dominique Williams (0.0 ppg, 0.0 apg) 


The Mocs have a number of players who have gotten their NCAA starts on other rosters.   Up front the team will rely on Central Florida transfer Dylan Karell.  The 6-foot-11, 225 pound senior recorded 16 points and nine rebounds in the team’s first preseason scrimmage and is likely to be a key factor inside and on the boards for the team this season.

In the backcourt Florida Southern is paced by Junior guard Michael Volovic (Carmel, Ind.) and senior guard Dominique Williams (Haines City, Fla.) who combined to score 61 points in that opening scrimmage.   Also, 5-foot-11 junior Sheldon Zablotny posted an impressive 19 point, nine assist line in that game. 

Rounding out the four headed back court rotation is senior guard Dylan Travis (Omaha, Neb.) who posted a triple-double in the scrimmage with 33 points, 10 boards and 10 assists.



Both teams enjoyed tremendous success in 2015, winning their respective national championships.  And both team have endured a great amount of roster turnover since the final buzzer(s) sounded.

Duke lost half its roster for last season’s team including four starters from the National Title game.  Florida Southern lost all five starters from it’s championship squad.  That may be where the two teams split in terms of story, however.  

The Blue Devils will welcome four new starters, but have recruited well enough to be ranked among the top 10 teams in the country for the upcoming season.   As for Florida Southern, the Mocs are the second straight defending Division II national champion to not be ranked in the next year’s preseason poll.  

Florida Southern is also welcoming a new coach, Mike Donnelly who spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Southern Connecticut State, where he led the program to a 97-48 (.669 winning pct.) record 


With four open spots in the starting five, there are a number of questions that will need to be answered by the Blue Devils.  From establishing a style of play to determining roles to learning each other’s names, there is a big learning curve for Coach K’s squad.  

So, it’s no wonder that Krzyzewski will likely start the four returning players along with the most talented freshman.  Accordingly, look for Duke’s first five to consist of Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Brandon Ingram, Amile Jefferson, and Marshall Plumlee.  That’s a lineup that should be defined by an advanced defense, but also a lot of questions on offense.  

Allen, of course, showed himself to be a potentially explosive scorer a season ago with a strong close to the season, and Krzyzewski was heaping praise on his sophomore scoring guard at the preseason media gathering this week.   Perhaps Allen will be able to make the jump from eighth option to one of the top players, but it’s easier said than done.   

Similarly, Duke will expect a lot of scoring from Ingram, the 6-foot-9 in-state freshman who finished his high school career as the third ranked senior in the country according to  Associate head coach Jeff Capel told TDD earlier this summer that Ingram can play all over the floor and is a “6’9 guard with a 7’3 wing span”, making him one of the more unique and toughest to guard players in the league.


- Mike Krzyzewski owns a 1,018-310 record over 40 seasons as a head coach, including a 945-251 mark at Duke (35 seasons). 

- The 13 players on Duke’s 2015-16 roster have an average height of 79.231 inches, making this year’s team the third-tallest in Coach K’s tenure.  10 of the 11 scholarship players stand 6-foot-5 or taller. 

- As a team, Duke returns just 24.0 percent of its scoring (19.0 ppg), 32.3 percent of its rebounding (11.9 rpg) and 16.6 percent of its assists (2.5 apg) from last season. 

- Duke has been ranked in the AP Poll an NCAA- best 155 straight weeks. Duke’s current streak is the second-longest stretch in program history and the seventh- longest consecutive weeks ranked streak in NCAA history. Duke is the only program to finish in the top 10 of the AP poll in each of the last eight seasons. 

- Duke has posted an 832-154 record in Cameron, including a 474-59 mark under Coach K. The Blue Devils have 18 undefeated home seasons, including 11 under Coach K and four in the past six years. The Blue Devils have won 279 of their past 298 games in Cameron. 

They Said It:

"With so many new players, we weren't looking at the result of the game, but at how our players handled themselves and I thought we did a good job sticking to our principles we've learned considering we've had just 10 practices." - Mike Donnelly on his team’s scrimmage ahead of the game with Duke 

The Prediction

While it’s highly unlikely that Florida Southern could spring the upset on the Blue Devils, the contrasting styles will be something worth watching.  The Mocs have a small and quick roster, while Duke is one of the tallest teams in the country.  Certainly, the Blue Devils have a high level of athleticism, it will be fascinating to watch how Duke plays defense.  Will they show any of the zone from a season ago?  Will they sag off and take advantage of their height to mask some lateral issues ala 2010?  

Also, offensively, Duke is a complete question mark.  The Blue Devils will likely be starting without a true point guard on offense, which could cause an already unfamiliar look to be even more clunky.  Still, there’s too much of a talent gap and too many advantages to think the Blue Devils will ever be in any real danger on Friday.

The pick…

Duke - 84
Florida Southern - 59

Blue Devil Digest Top Stories