The news that former Memphis basketball player Tarik Black has opted to transfer to Kansas instead of Duke means really one thing for the Blue Devils: They’ll be small, very small.
Black the 6-foot-9 big man graduated from Memphis and opted to transfer for his final year of eligibility. Apparently he found a home in Kansas, who along with No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins who selected the Jayhawks just a few weeks ago, has had a nice haul this off season.
It is a big gain for Kansas and a loss of a potential big for Duke who are now looking at going into the 2013-2014 season with no real true back to the basket post player. The only player on the Blue Devils roster taller than 6-foot-9 is redshirt sophomore Marshall Plumlee who has hardly looked ready in the limited action he has seen to contribute right now.
To make matters worse for Plumlee, he has to recover from off season surgery which is likely to slow any real development he could have had over the summer to put himself in a position to be a guy that might be able to give Duke some minutes off the bench.
With Black, Duke could have had a guy who had proven he could be a banger in the post. He wasn’t necessarily a guy that would have lit up the stat sheet but he was a guy that would have been able to rebound and play and potentially start. Instead Duke will look at going small and quick.
They have the athletes to do it but what remains to be seen is how the team will fare against a team with a solid, in terms of skills an girth, front court.
Right now Duke is likely to start Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood. That fifth guy remains to be determined but it won’t be a back to the basket post player.
Amile Jefferson could step in but he is more of a slashing wing/forward. Alex Murphy is a stretch forward, but again, didn’t play much this past season and isn’t a real post player.
The only guy who kind of fits the bill is Josh Hairston and he is 6-foot-7 at best. He has the body but not the height to play as a true center.
So, that means Duke will be a much smaller team and offer a less traditional lineup than most teams. That doesn’t mean Duke won’t find success. To the contrary, they are chock full of talent, they just don’t have many options in terms of going down low and getting points or even rebounds.
Duke has won without a dominate post scorer– see 2010– but they have usually had a big or bigs that could get rebounds and that is something that remains to be seen with next year’s team.
Black would have ideally been able to step in and be a potential force on the boards but that ship has sailed and barring a big man falling out of the sky on to the quad, the Blue Devils will likely be a team full of wings that will run and gun next season. They will win a lot of games but ultimately the real test will come when they play those bigger teams and right now no one can really say how they match up.
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