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2014 Alphabetical NCAA D1 Preview: Duke

We’re back with the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we’ll go through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Duke Blue Devils, located in Durham, NC.

We easily labeled Duke as a contender last year and then they went on to win it all. We’re saying the same thing this year as there is still plenty of returning talent and a host of new talented players. In 2013 Duke went 16-5 and won it all after a 2-4 start. In 2012 Duke went 15-5 and lost in the NCAAs to Maryland after a 3-3 start. If history continues to serve, we know that Duke will win a bunch of games, but also lose some games, especially early on, and then they’ll make a run. With the cast they have in 2014, expect more of the same.

Duke’s OOC schedule isn’t TOO hard, but it’s not a cakewalk either. There are plenty of MUST WIN games (like Furman, Marquette, and BU) but teams like Denver, Penn, Loyola, and Harvard provide a solid challenge. The ACC is now stacked with some of the best teams in college lacrosse, and facing UNC, UVA, Maryland, Syracuse, and Notre Dame in conference is as stiff a test as exists.

Offensively, Duke is really stacked up with talent at attack. Jordan Wolf, Josh Dionne, Christian Walsh, and Case Matheis are all back. Those four players alone bring back 220 points of the teams total 464 points in 2013. The big losses for Duke happened at the midfield and with Lawson, Tripucka, AND Offit all gone, the Blue Devils need some guys to step up and play. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Duke run four attackmen out there again either. Miles Jones and Deemer Class bring back at least 20 points apiece, and I think Will Haus and John Shaffer could also see a considerable jump in minutes played, along with increased responsibilities. I’m curious to see if freshman Thomas Zenker gets any runs.

Defensively, Duke is a lot like they are on offense. They graduated Bill Conners at LSM, but bring back a stable of stud defenseman, and have considerable depth at that position. Chris Hipps, Henry Lobb, Rowland Petit, Luke Duprey, and others all return. Casey Carroll is also back on the roster as a redshirt Senior after being injured last year. This group is DEEP, rangy, talented, and tough. Someone will play LSM, and whoever it is, they’ll be a stud. Brendan Fowler returns to the face off square as well, and that means lots of possessions for Duke, and rest for their D. It’s kind of a scary cocktail.

When it comes to a goalie, I’m leaning towards Kyle Turri as he has the most experience, but last year all four of Duke’s goalies played at least 75 minutes of game time each. Turri was the main guy, but others got a chance. Wigrizer is gone, but Luke Aaron is back, and joining the team is Danny Fowler, Brendan’s younger brother, out of Chaminade on Long Island. Will we see all three goalies get time? If history serves…

At the beginning of the season, I still think Duke will lose some games. They need to find the right defensive rotation of players. They need to find their new midfield core. Who will be their goalie this year? These are big questions, and Duke will answer them by playing games. By midseason Duke will be in Top 10 and gunning for a title as they improve. Seemingly, that’s just what the Blue Devils do now.

For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air ForceAlbanyArmyBellarmineBinghamtonBostonBrownBryantBucknellCanisiusColgate,  CornellDartmouthDelawareDetroit, and Drexel.