Meet that Spartans

Previewing the Blue Devils and Spartans who tip off on Friday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 PM EST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports South.


Duke (0-0) vs UNC-Greensboro (0-0)
Durham, NC - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: Fox Sports / Tip: 7:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  Southern
Nickname:  Spartans
Colors:  Blue, Gold, and White 
Head Coach:  Mike Dement (9th season)
Career Record at UNCG: 107-126

Projected Starters:
 4 Mikko Koivisto (6-4, 200, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg
 5 Ben Stywall (6-5, 220, Sr.) – 11.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg
21 Elhanan Bone (6-8, 240, So.) – 3.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg
15 Kendall Toney (6-3, 220, Sr.) – 8.0 ppg, 1.8 apg
14 Montel Smith (5-10, 185, Sr.) - 4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg

Key Reserves:
55 DeAngelo Jackson (6-8, 215, So.) – 2.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg
 2 Darrius Sellers (6-7, 230, So.) – N/A
22 Brandon Evans (6-2, 200, Jr.) – 5.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg
25 Sean Spooner (6-0, 175, Jr.) – 1.1 ppg, 1.0 apg
50 Brian Cole (6-8, 220, Fr.) - N/A
21 Taylor Hoffer (6-7, 215, Fr.) - N/A 

Storylines For UNC-Greensboro:

How They Got Here:
This will be the season opener for both teams. The Blue Devils are coming off a 30-7 season that saw the team advance to the Sweet 16. Meanwhile the Spartans are looking to rebuild after going just 5-25 in 2008-2009 including losing 11 of the first 12 games of the year. Some of the more painful results included a 27 point loss to NC State and a 44 point loss at East Carolina.

Series History:
This will be the eighth meeting between the two programs with the Blue Devils holding a perfect 7-0 record in the series. Duke has scored 85 or more points in five of the seven meetings and holds a 5-0 advantage in the games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2006 when Duke earned a 75-48 victory in Cameron. In that game Brian Zoubek recorded a team high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds.

Injury Report:
UNC Greensboro enters the game relatively healthy. However the Blue Devils will be without starting guard Nolan Smith who has been suspended for two game for participating in an unsanctioned summer league game. In addition, starting power forward Mason Plumlee has been sidelined with a wrist injury.

A Fresh Start:
Though the Spartans lacked success last season, the team returns in 2009-2010 with a fair amount of depth - especially in the backcourt. In the team's early season showing - the annual Blue/Gold game - Brandon Evans led the team with 16 points for the Gold team while six other players reached double figures in the 30 minute contest. Stywall (15), Van Dussen (14) and Brown (12) also scored in double digits for the Gold squad. Toney led the White team with 14 points, while Cole had 12 and Koivisto added 11.

Need "Big" Production:
While the Spartans have a good amount of experience and depth in the backcourt, the team is lacking that same luxury up front. There are just five players who measure 6-foot-7 or taller with no player inching past 6-foot-8. Of those players, only Ethanan Bone averaged more than 3.0 rebounds per game. Instead the Spartans channel the attack the basket style of a program such a Michigan State - sending the backcourt and wings into the pain in hopes of snaring the boards. Against a much taller Duke team, the Spartans will certainly be tested here.

UNCG Looking To Break The Streak:
Duke has won an NCAA-best 68 con- secutive non-conference home games. Duke's last home loss against a non-con- ference foe was an 83-82 decision against St. John's on Feb. 26, 2000. The 68 straight non-conference home wins is the second- longest streak in school history. The Blue Devils won 95 consecutive non-conference home tilts from Feb. 2, 1983, through Nov. 29, 1995.

Perimeter Attack Is Important:
A season ago the Spartan offense struggled in most facets of the game. All told the Spartans shot just 39.8 percent from the field. Things got worse as the team stepped back to the three point line where the group hit just 31.4 percent of their attempts. It yielded just 62.9 points per game. Given a lack of height, this resulted in a cumulative rebounding margin of -2.1 per game. Meanwhile opponents were able to to shoot a respectable 45 percent from the field and 34.3 from the perimeter.

Watch Out For...:
Senior guard Mikko Koivisto - the team's leading scorer a season ago, Koivisto is the team's top perimeter threat and needs just 44 three pointers to move into the Southern Conference's all-time top 10 list. He's also just 70 points shy of 1,000 for his career. A season ago the 6'4 Finland native shot 36 percent from behind the arc in 2009 - down 3.5 percent from his career average - while playing 30 minutes per contest. Over the past two years he's spent his summers back home in Finland playing for his country's national team.

Fearless Predicition(s)
Before the announcement of the suspension of Nolan Smith there was little doubt as to the outcome of this game. Duke returns the vast majority of players who helped the team succeed a year ago. However, the landscape could have arguably changed as UNCG will bring a team that relies heavily on its backcourt while Duke will have just two scholarship recruited guards available. The huge contrast will be noticeable and something that Duke will need to deal with. Transition will be important. In the end, however, the Blue Devils appear to have too much talent even without Smith. The Spartans have no real match up for Kyle Singer or any of the top post players. Look for Duke to control the boards and pull away as the game progresses.

Prediction:

Duke 86
UNC Greensboro 56


Blue Devil Digest Top Stories