Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Duke Has Big Problems

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.

Comments

  1. #1 BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2006

    Good.

    I can’t think of another team’s fans (any philidelphia team comes close though) that show what a bunch of jackasses they are than the Pukies not to mention the constant stream of crybabies that team seems to recruit.

    Go Wolfpack.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    April 10, 2006

    Well BigDumbChimp, I’m a Duke fan. Am I a jackass too? Or are you just being a jackass fan of another team?

  3. #3 Heathen Dan
    April 10, 2006

    While I also have my doubts about a run-and-gun small ball style going all the way, I do enjoy that type of game. Too much half court sets can bore the heck out of me, especially since I don’t really root for any NCAA team. But as long as some of the college teams play small ball, I’ll keep watching their games.

    (And yes, Denver and Phoenix are my fave NBA teams.)

  4. #4 norbizness
    April 10, 2006

    I also can’t wait for Sheldon Williams to be a much better pro player than Redick, who looks like Mike Dunleavy, Jr. without the athleticism.

    Speaking of a big man drought, my beloved Longhorns are losing wildly inconsistent but hugely talented sophomore F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, who is probably making a mistake in going this early to the pros. Unlike Sheldon, he’s going to get pushed around big time in the NBA post.

  5. #5 BigDumbChimp
    April 10, 2006

    I’m definitely a jackass. There’s no question about it.

  6. #6 bourgeois_rage
    April 10, 2006

    Jason Bennett is almost assuredly going to Kansas State to follow Huggins.

    Welcome to the real world, Duke.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    April 10, 2006

    norbizness wrote:

    Speaking of a big man drought, my beloved Longhorns are losing wildly inconsistent but hugely talented sophomore F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, who is probably making a mistake in going this early to the pros.

    I wouldn’t feel too sorry for Texas. Kevin Durant is going to be a stud in the middle for you guys immediately.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    April 10, 2006

    bourgeois rage wrote:

    Jason Bennett is almost assuredly going to Kansas State to follow Huggins.

    Yeah, it’s certainly looking that way. Unlikely that Duke can step in at this point.

  9. #9 Will
    April 10, 2006

    I agree with norbizness, Aldrige should probably stay another year, but I understand his decision.

    Ed is right, Durant looks prime-time already and if we can keep PJ Tucker and Daniel Gibson around I think we have an excellent shot at the Final Four next year. Assuming we aren’t in North Carolina, Florida, or Ohio State’s brackets. :-)

    Go Horns!

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    April 10, 2006

    Aldridge’s decision makes perfect sense. If Noah and Horford stay in school this year and come out next year, that position is loaded in the draft. Oden is almost certainly coming out next year and he’ll be the #1 pick no matter what (barring a plane or a communications satellite crashing into his dorm room and landing on top of him). And he’s not the only terrific freshman big man who could come out next year. Keep an eye on Spencer Hawes and the Lopez twins as well. Tyler Hansborough may well be in the draft next year too. This year is much thinner at his position than next year will likely be, so he’s likely to be drafted higher this year and he would be next year. Another year in college will make him a better player, but not a higher ranked one. He’s a consensus top 5 pick this year. It’s hard to turn down that kind of money.

  11. #11 Will
    April 10, 2006

    Your points about his draft position are the reason it makes sense. I think he has his best chance of being drafted very highly this year for all of the reasons you suggest.

    My only point was that he still has a fair bit of developing to do before he has the ability to be a contributor in the NBA. I don’t know enough about NBA player development, but if I was going into the league looking at being the next Darko Milicic I’m not sure I wouldn’t consider staying in a place where I had the majority of the focus of a good coaching and training staff. I expect Aldrige will be drafted highly and play very little for the next two years, finally blossoming in his third or fourth year in the league. Maybe.

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