5 Keys to the Men's Season

By Steve DiMiceli

There is not a lot we know about the 2013-2014 men's basketball team besides the roster and who is on it. Of course, it will be very different from last year's squad.  Jim Ferry really made his mark this off season with nearly all of Ron Everhart's recruits moving on. I suspect the results will be better in his second year, but there are still a lot of question marks surrounding the team. How high their ceiling is and whether or not they can reach it depends a lot on the following 5 keys.  

1. Gelling

In the past, I feel like I've underestimated the time it takes for a team to gel and develop chemistry. A huge part of the 2013-14 Dukes success will revolve around how quickly they learn the system and begin playing as a unit. If they follow the learning curve of GW under second year coach Mike Lonergan, they should get it together just before Atlantic 10 play. If it comes together a little sooner, I think this team should have more than enough talent to crack .500 and play in the CBI. On the bright side, practice will open up two weeks sooner than it normally does thanks to an NCAA rule change going into effect this year. That could be just what the doctor ordered for the Dukes. 

2. Maximizing the value of Tray'vaugh and DC

The Dukes are in a unique situation where they have two ball handlers who could potentially be dynamic scorers. Playing two points isn't normally Ferry's style, but I don't see what choice he has. The two most talented players on the team could be Derrick Colter and Tra'vaugh White. Success next season is largely dependent on how well they play off one another.

3. Finding the best use of the 3

The three will truly be the swing for the Dukes in 2013-14 and they have a number of options for how to use it. They could go with a true small forward in Jerry Jones. They could go with a third guard in Jeremiah Jones or they could go big with either Ovie Soko, Dominique Mckoy or Isaiah Watkins. Each option dynamically changes the complexion of the team. It will be up to the coaching staff to assess which lineup is most effective while finding opportunities to use the team's versatility situationally. 

4. Ovie Maturing

If you went to the Pro - Am last summer, you'll know that Ovie Soko is an extremely explosive player who can score in a variety of ways and rebound well. If you know anything about his history at UAB, you'll know he is capable of putting up big number but also prone to completely disappearing. This is going to sound like a weird comparison but Soko reminds me a little of Pedro Alvarez. He has the ability and tools to dazzle and dominate, but to this point in his career, inconsistency has made him an average player. I don't exaggerate or allow my homer bias to set in when I suggest that at his best,  Soko could produce a double double per game over the entire season and could be a legit threat to go 20-20. Should he max out his potential, the Dukes will be in very good shape, but he will have to show up every game. Easier said than done.

5. A Freshman Big Stepping Forward

Guard looks set. The team will have some options and experience at three. Soko should man the four.

That leaves one big hole in the post where a true freshman likely will need to step in to fill the void. The Dukes will have three options, Jordan Robinson, Watkins, and Darius Lewis. I suspect Lewis is a little further away than the rest and could be a red shirt candidate. Watkins might be best suited to play the same role as Soko leaving Robinson as the freshman with best chance the start early at center. I think he has the most college ready body for the position and is a fundamentally sound player with good hands and a soft finish. He takes what is given to him and has the potential to be an above average rebounder and an average defender from day one. There is not an exciting freshman year upside for Robinson, but there is enough polish that I expect a steady performance from him without a ton of mistakes. In the event that he and the rest of the freshmen cannot get by, McKoy should fill in adequately.