Justise Winslow the Key Link for Duke Championship Run


The x-factor for Duke’s upcoming Final Four experience is not hard to find. It is freshman Justise Winslow who will provide the difference for the Duke Blue Devils. He is the determining factor that Duke will pit against other teams.

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The first thing that Winslow brings is a tough matchup. Winslow has been starting for the Blue Devils at the four spot since about midseason. He is not a true post though, as anyone can see that watches him play. Instead he offers Duke many of things that Pat Connaughton offered Notre Dame.

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  • Traditional bigs have to make a decision when Winslow is on the court. They can either run out of the paint to cover him or they have to leave him to cover Jahlil Okafor. Neither decision would work out very well. Either Winslow can bury shots from the perimeter or Okafor can beat any single cover on him.

    When Amile Jefferson comes into the game, Winslow can slot over to the small forward position. At 6’6” 225, he is bigger than most college small forwards. Defensively he is a better fit on the wing than he is down low, but he plays aggressively everywhere. That it is perhaps his only problem, he will foul larger men.

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    The matchup problems could come from a team that is built similarly to Duke. Michigan State appears to be that team on paper, but forward Branden Dawson does much of his work through rebounding. Dawson needs to be near the basket on defense to do that. The Spartans may utilize a zone in order to do just that. Dawson chasing Winslow around would be a dream for Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

    The Duke system relies on production from Okafor and three point shooting this year. The natural link to both those things is Justise Winslow.