This will be the first piece in a series breaking the Dukes down position by position. Today, I’ll look at point guard. Then, I’ll look at the wings and post in separate entries. Finally, I’ll break down the big picture and make my best guess at who will start and who will eat minutes off the bench.
After one year in the Atlantic 10, Jim Ferry looks as if he’s already departed from the lineup construction he used at LIU. There, he employed one point guard, two wings and two post players. The Dukes struggled using Derrick Colter as the only ball handler last year. As a result, Ferry brought in a second point guard from the JUCO ranks, Tra’vaughn White.
The addition of White should take some of the pressure off Colter. Last year, almost all of the offensive responsibility fell on the freshman. Ferry asked him to get the ball up court, run the offense and score. With White by his side, we won’t see the half court trap that gave Colter fits last year and he’ll have a safety valve when he faces heavy pressure before crossing the center stripe. At the Atlantic 10 media day, Ferry essentially said Colter wouldn’t need to score as much in 2013-14 and the coaching staff have put plenty of options around him. It does sound like he will handle the ball and run the offense more than White will.
Suggesting White and Colter will both start and serve as complementary point guards won’t surprise anyone. While defensive issues could arise by playing two small guards, Ferry can’t keep one of them on the bench for too long or he would waste some of the best talent on his team. It’s more interesting to think about who will replace them when one takes a breather. I think you could assume safely that when Colter leaves the game, White will run the point and vice versa. I don’t expect the pair to take a seat at the same time very often. Ferry can dramatically change his lineup depending on who he subs in. He could continue to run a two point guard system by bringing in Desmond Ridenour. Ridenour doesn’t look like a true one but he has the right skill set to play the position. In the early stages of his career, he might serve better as a facilitator than a scorer anyway. He could move Jeremiah Jones to the two and bring in a second wing. This would allow Ferry to play a system a little closer to the one he normally does. He could even go big and tap another post player freeing Ovie Soko to move to wing.
The talent the Dukes have in Tra’Vaughn White and Derrick Colter pretty much guarantees the two will play together short of a defensive meltdown, and will allow Ferry to give different looks using his bench. I don’t expect the two point guard system to remain a permanent fixture for the Dukes. As Colter gains experience and the ball handling on the wings improves, the Dukes should revert to the more traditional Ferry lineup. Till then, enjoy Colter and White. Both are a lot of fun to watch and should give the Dukes one of the more dangerous back courts in the league maybe as soon as this year.