Duke's demanding versatility from new cast

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke began its first official practice for the basketball season and already there was a startling development.
There's a selected captain who has never played a game for the Blue Devils.
While that might seem like a departure for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski's operation, don't think everything is about to change around the Blue Devils. Again, they're expected to be one of the country's top teams.
Transfer swingman Rodney Hood, who was with the Blue Devils last season as he sat out an NCAA-mandated year after arriving from Mississippi State, will be one of the captains along with senior guard Tyler Thornton.
Hood, a redshirt sophomore, built leadership skills last season that couldn't be ignored, coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
"Now we'll see with the pressure on," Krzyzewski said, noting the difference from a practice-only scenario for Hood.
"In practice, he brought it every day and he was one of our best players on the floor," Thornton said. "He earned it. When the coaches announced that, everybody understood why he was a captain."
Hood also figures to be one of the team's best players along with freshman Jabari Parker.
As practices started, Krzyzewski said Hood and Parker along with sophomore forward Amile Jefferson, who has best deciphered how to excel with the others on the new-look team, would be in the starting unit if the season were to begin at this juncture.
Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils will have to figure out how to play off the strengths provided by Hood and Parker.
"A group of players who has to learn to adjust to those two players," he said.
Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils haven't had this type of roster makeup since the late 1990s and early 2000s.
"This team is very athletic," Krzyzewski said. "It's not your conventional team. I think it's a team with versatility. Guys are going to have to guard multiple positions."
The distribution of minutes could fluctuate dramatically among players, Krzyzewski said.
"It will be very fluid," he said. "The amount of playing time will be based on how you're playing."
The Blue Devils are embracing the altered concepts and learning as they go.
"It's tough to play this new style of basketball," Jefferson said. "It takes work. Not really having a position is fun, but it takes work."