Duke was among the finalists to land Memphis-transfer Tarik Black, but yesterday the 6-foot-9, 262-pound big man announced that he would play out his final year of eligibility at Kansas.
The Chronicle’s Daniel Carp and Andrew Beaton sat down to discuss how Duke’s roster could shape out without a dominant post player and how that could impact the team’s style of play next season.
Andrew Beaton: Dan, Duke was in on the biggest transfer of the summer and missed out. What was your reaction to the news?
Daniel Carp: This has to be a deflating feeling for Duke. After failing to land a true post player in this year’s recruiting class, the Blue Devils had a chance to land what many believe is the final piece to their championship puzzle. As Duke looks forward to the 2013-14 season, the team is still stocked with young talent but has a lot of questions about its size and physicality in the post.
AB: The three true frontcourt players—Josh Hairston, Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson—have a lot to prove going forward. A proven body up front would’ve been great, no doubt.
But when you look to how next year’s team will play, missing out on a 260-pound forward who doesn’t excel in running the floor isn’t the worst thing in the world.
It may be unconventional, but I think we’ll see lots of lineups next year that won’t include any of those three. Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood may be the two most talented players on next year’s team and are both 6-foot-8. Put them on the floor with Andre Dawkins, Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook and it’ll be the most exciting show in college basketball. That includes Kansas and Kentucky.
DC: If one thing is for sure, you know that Mike Krzyzewski is familiar with running this system. Tyson Chandler was Coach K’s only true center on the 2012 Olympic team, and that team was a prime example of a squad that played to its own strengths. They ran the floor and utilized their superior athleticism by using Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James at power forward and even center. It was a scheme that gave opposing defenses nightmares.
It is likely that Coach K will model this year’s team after that system. By no means are Parker and Hood true, back to the basket post players. But players that talented will create matchup problems regardless of their size.
Luckily for Duke, the ACC has seen somewhat of an exodus in terms of its dominant big men this season—no more Alex Len at Maryland, no more Kenny Kadji or Reggie Johnson at Miami, no more CJ Leslie or Richard Howell at N.C. State. If the Blue Devils can take consolation in one thing, it is that although they are getting smaller, so is everyone else.
AB: And this makes no mention of Alex Murphy who is also a wing-forward who has size and has put on muscle during his two years at Duke. Incoming freshman Semi Ojeleye is a physical specimen as well.
That brings up another reason why it’s OK to have missed out on Black: this team already has 12 players who expect to be getting minutes on next year’s team. Parker is the only incoming freshman that will be a shoe-in for playing time, but Matt Jones and Ojeleye are top recruits too. Then there’s Murphy, Tyler Thornton, Dawkins and a number of other guys who can rotate in and out. Lots of mouths to feed next year for Chef Krzyzewski.
The team may be small, but it has the depth and talent to run-n-gun.