And I don’t mean the rape controversy on campus, I mean the basketball team for next year. They’re already losing JJ Redick, Shelden Williams, Lee Melchionni and Sean Dockery to graduation, but now they’re likely going to lose the only two big men they had returning next year. Eric Boateng, a freshman big man who would have seen a lot of minutes next year, has announced that he’s transferring, and it looks virtually certain that Josh McRoberts is going to declare for the NBA draft. Ouch.
That means they’ll have no one over 6’7 coming back next season, with only one big man coming in with the freshman class, 7-footer Brian Zoubek. They’ve got one other possible commit in Lance Thomas, a 6’8 forward who is deciding between Duke and Rutgers. If they miss on him, they’re in major trouble unless they can pull something off. Duke doesn’t take Juco transfers, so that’s not an option. And even if they get him, that’s two freshmen who have to start immediately, with 6’7 sophomore Jamal Boykin being the only other guy even close to being an inside player.
There is one elite big man still undecided in Darrell Arthur, but Duke hasn’t been recruiting him at all so it’s not likely they could jump in this late and get him. 7’2 Jason Bennett and 6’10 Phil Jones are also uncommitted prospects, but again Duke hasn’t been recruiting him them and neither is highly rated. Duke does bring in Gerald Henderson, who is going to be an immediate starter and a big time star, but he’s only 6’5.
There’s no doubt that Coach K is gonna have to be very creative to hide the size problem next year. On offense, he’ll have to go to a serious run and gun style and rely even more on the 3 point shot than normal. He won a national championship in 2001 by playing small ball after Carlos Boozer got hurt at the end of the ACC season, but I don’t know if you can win playing that way all year long.
Meanwhile, all three of Florida’s top players say they’re returning to school next year, which will immediately make them the preseason #1 team. North Carolina adds a monster recruiting class to their returning top 10 team, Ohio State adds an absolutely incredible recruiting class to their big ten championship team (and mark my words, Greg Oden is first team all-American as a freshman next year). This may be Duke’s worst season since 95-96, when Coach K was out with back problems.