Blue Devils' Season Set To Kick Off

DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke University men's basketball team officially opens the 2006-07 campaign on Friday, Oct. 13 with a closed practice. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski returns two starters and eight letterwinners from last year's ACC Championship team.

Junior DeMarcus Nelson along with sophomores Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus headline a group of returnees that helped the Blue Devils to a 32-4 record a year ago. All three players were recently named team captains, with McRoberts and Paulus becoming the first sophomores in Duke history to gain the honor.

Nelson, a 6-4, 200-pound guard, is the lone scholarship upperclassman on the roster. The last time Duke did not have a scholarship senior on the team was in 2001-02 when the junior trio of Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy and Jason Williams led the Blue Devils to a 31-4 record and the ACC Championship.

Senior walk-on Joe Pagliuca joins Nelson to comprise the upperclass, marking just the seventh time in school history the team has had less than three upperclassman on the roster. It is also the first time in 61 years that it has occurred. Two-year letterwinner David McClure, who redshirted last season following knee surgery, is officially listed as a sophomore for the upcoming season.

With so few upperclassman on the roster, Duke will rely heavily upon its talented sophomore and freshman classes. Joining McRoberts and Paulus in the sophomore class are forward Jamal Boykin, guard Jordan Davidson and guard/forward Martynas Pocius. Both Boykin and Pocius showed promise in limited action a year ago, while Davidson was a valuable practice player last season as a walk-on. Davidson's work last season helped the Melbourne, Ark., native earn a scholarship for the upcoming season. The rookie class is headlined by McDonald's All-Americans Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas. Joining that trio is Brian Zoubek, a fourth team Parade All-America selection a year ago.

Henderson, a 6-4, 215-pound guard, is an elite athlete and two-time state champion at The Episcopal Academy. Scheyer used his 6-6, 180-pound frame to score 3,034 points at Glenbrook North to become the fourth leading scorer in Illinois high school history. Thomas, a 6-9, 220-pound forward, is already one of the strongest players on the team and will make an immediate impact on the interior for the Blue Devils. Zoubek is a polished big man with a 7-0, 230-pound frame. He led his high school, Haddonfield Memorial, to an 111-10 record during his four years.

The Blue Devils also recently welcomed walk-ons Steve Johnson and Nick Sutton to the roster. Johnson, a 6-5 freshman forward, is a former Colorado high jump champion, while Sutton is a 6-2 freshman guard out of California.

Duke opens the 2006-07 season with its annual Blue-White Scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 28. Following exhibition games against Shaw (Nov. 2) and N.C. Central (Nov. 4), the Blue Devils open the regular season with a Sunday, Nov. 12 home contest against Columbia in the opening round of the College Basketball Experience Classic.

Earlier Friday, Josh McRoberts participated in a chat on ESPN.com and there was also a press conference with Coach K and several players.


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