Experts: Can Dockery Answer the Call?

Heading into the 2004-2005 season it looked as if Sean Dockery's role would be much as it had been in his first two seasons. The 6-foot-2 Chicago native was most likely going to be the first defensive substitute off the bench, but then Shaun Livingston bolted for a likely top five pick in June's draft and senior mentor Chris Duhon graduated. So can the former McDonald's All American answer the call? TDD polled the experts.

Though many rival fans and Duke detractors will no doubt look at Duke's 2004-2005 point guard situation as one of the bigger question marks, at least three experts believe the Blue Devils will get solid production from the 6-foot-2 rising junior.

"A lot of programs would love to wake up and have Sean Dockery as their point guard. He handles the ball well, understands the game and has two years of experience playing in big games," says TheSportingNews' senior writer Mike DeCourcy. "He will rank among the best defensive point guards, although anybody who says that publicly will be accused of over-hyping another Duke player." recruiting analyst Rob Harrington agrees.

"I think Dockery is poised for a very good year. He's a sure ball-handler, talented playmaker and very tough mentally. Most of all, he plays good defense, which is absolutely mandatory at the point guard spot for any team hoping to win the ACC."

While Dockery's defense has never been a question for the Blue Devils, his offensive struggles as a sophomore have caused a few eyebrows to be raised in concern. After all, the Chicago native shot a paltry 12% (3-of-25) from the perimeter and 51% from the free thrown line. For the season he averaged 3.0 points, 1.4 assists, 1.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 15 minutes of action.

Comparing those numbers to departed starter Chris Duhon's numbers reveal the main problem facing Mike Krzyzewski's squad. Duhon averaged 10.0 points, 6.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.2 steals in 35 minutes of action. He also shot 30% from distance and 72% from the free throw line.

When setting Dockery's averages on a 35 minute per game average, the numbers draw closer to his mentors, though still fall a bit short with 6.9 points, 3.2 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.4 steals per game.

That discrepancy was touched on by Harrington, DeCourcy, and's Dave Telep.

"Dockery's biggest challenge will be whether he can make jump shot frequently enough to keep defenses honest," said DeCourcy. "He was a big scorer in high school. He doesn't have to match that now, but if he's purely a distributor, Duke will be slightly less dangerous as a team. If he can shoot in the low 30s from the 3-point line, defenders will have to guard him. He's got a lot of time between now and then to work on his technique, and he also needs to build up his confidence."

"Clearly, he won't be a scoring catalyst, making it easier for opponents to focus on Duke's other perimeter players," added Harrington. "He must pose enough of a scoring threat to keep defenses honest. As for his jump shot, his mechanics certainly aren't terrible, so with more repetition – and confidence -- he could develop into a decent shooter."

"He needs to improve will be in his playmaking ability in terms of driving and kicking to find shooters," said Telep. "If he can make his perimeter shots to loosen things up, that would certainly help."

So where does the trio expect Dockery to rank in a deep crop of ACC point guards? The opinions vary, though all agree that Duke will certainly have a player capable of getting the job done.

"I don't think he'll be quite on par with the elite point guards in the conference," said Harrington, "but that's more a reflection on them, than anything wrong with Dockery."

"Obviously we know he's excellent defensively and that's good considering the PG talent in the league," added Telep. "I think his challenge will be in making the transition from role player to the guy who makes it all happen."

With a total of five former McDonalds All Americans on the roster along with Shelden Williams, David McClure, Lee Melchionni, Duke will once again boast a high level of talent, though the team's ultimate success will likely hinge of two factors: Big man foul trouble, and steady play from the point guard slot as DeCourcy points out:

"It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the level of his defense as he takes on greater responsibility for running the offense and presenting himself as a better scoring threat. That will be one of the most important measures of his success or failure."

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