The Drive For Five Starts Now

Fresh off a thrilling victory over the Butler Bulldogs in Monday night's national championship game, the Blue Devils have returned home to bask in their new found glory.

Tuesday afternoon saw the team showered with praise from a packed Cameron Indoor Stadium. Next up will be the various speeches. The team banquet. Media obligations. Scheduling a trip to the White House to meet the President and meet another Blue Devil with a national championship ring in the form of Reggie Love.

It's certainly going to be an exciting couple of months for a team that won everything in front of them from the preseason NIT to the ACC Regular Season and Tournament titles and, of course, a fourth National Title. In fact it'll be so much fun that players and fans alike will want to do it again soon.

Like next year.

Such will be the renewed expectations in Durham where Final Fours were once considered the rule, not the exception. However, this season was the first time the Blue Devils were playing on the season's final weekend in six years. Understandable for most any high major or otherwise program. Unthinkable for Duke.

So what are the chances the Blue Devils return to Houston - the site of this year's South Regional Final - as part of the 2011 Final Four? It depends on a few key decisions among the chaos and celebrations currently taking place.

Three starters - Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, and Jon Scheyer - will depart via graduation leaving Duke without its two most proven rebounders and its starting point guard. Then there's the uncertainty surrounding the immediate plans of this year's Final Four's most outstanding player, junior Kyle Singler.

Immediately following the win over Butler Singler said he was unsure as to his return for a senior season. If he leaves Duke will lose, perhaps, it's toughest matchup on the offensive end of the floor and another 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Not to mention the team's most difficult matchup on the offensive end of the floor.

Most NBA mock drafts and scouting services consider Singler a late first round to early second round pick. The most common knock on his game being his inconsistent season as a full-time small forward, his likely pro position. Another season in Durham spent exclusively on the wing could help his stock, but it is unclear as to how much. After the celebrations die down the Oregon native is expected to meet with the Duke coaching staff to begin gathering information on his draft status.

Assuming Singler does decide to return to Durham, the Blue Devils will still be a much different team in 2010-2011. A return to the high-pressure, man-to-man defense complete with consistent overplay of the passing lanes will be the order of the day as the program welcomes four new backcourt types to the roster after navigating much of 2010 with just two contributing guards.

The two headliners will be five star high school All-American Kyrie Irving and Liberty transfer Seth Curry. Irving, a 6-foot-2 lighting fast prospect out of New Jersey recently participated in the McDonald's All-American game and is described by's national recruiting director, Dave Telep as "the finest point guard prospect in the country". Meanwhile Curry, the younger brother of NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Stephan Curry, has spent the last year sitting out of action due to NBA rules, but has practiced with the team daily and has drawn rave reviews from coaches and players alike.

Washington, D.C. area player of the year Tyler Thornton and junior college transfer Carrick Felix will complete the rotation with rising sophomore Andre Dakwins, providing Krzyzewski with the ability to use a three or even four guard set in various situations - a marked departure from this year's edition.

Irving will likely start at point guard with Nolan Smith manning the second/combo guard position. Depending on Singler's decision, he'll start at the small forward position. Should Singler decide to shake hands with David Stern in June, Curry will likely get the nod giving the Blue Devils much improved perimeter shooting, but at a cost of substantial height and rebounding.

Either way the Blue Devils can likely expect a tremendous backcourt in 2010-2011. But what about the post game? Losing Zoubek and Thomas will free up a great amount of playing time for the brothers Plumlee. Both of whom are considered top end athletes, but neither of which has proven to be as effective on the boards as either of the departing seniors. Both brothers are expected to improve with another off-season and the likely increase in tempo. But it's another question that has to be answered. And early on.

As is the question of post depth - something that has ended many a Blue Devil season in recent years. That answer appears to rest on the shoulders of seldom used sophomore Ryan Kelly who entered Duke with the reputation of being extremely skilled, but not yet ready to compete physically in the post. The programs will also likely need contributions from incoming freshman power forward Josh Hairston, a 6-foot-8, 225 pound prospect out of Montrose Christian Academy. At minimum, both players will be counted on to grab a few rebounds and spell the Plumlees and help mitigate foul trouble. And additional scoring punch would be a bonus.

Monday night saw the program earn it's fourth national title - the banner from which will be unveiled this fall at the annual Countdown to Crazieness event in Cameron Indoor. As the banner is unfurled many fans will remember what a special year 2010 was and how tough their team was during the season. That'll last for a few moments before thoughts and minds turn to the potential to add a fifth.

Depending on the next few months, Duke may be well on its way toward achieving that goal.

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