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When Tarik Black picked Kansas over Duke as his transfer destination, it all but guaranteed that the Blue Devils wouldn’t have a typical lineup.
Black would have given Duke a traditional center to anchor a lineup replete with guards and wing players. Without the bulk of Black’s 262-pound body, the Blue Devils’ only true post players are Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee.
There’s been plenty of hype around Plumlee, but so far fans who aren’t privy to practices have little evidence that he’s anything more than just a big body. Furthermore, the track record of the other Plumlees suggests that he won’t really develop until his junior or senior year. A pessimistic view could suggest that even that delayed development timeline is optimistic given Marshall Plumlee’s injuries.
Plumlee missed the preseason last year due to injury and had surgery this offseason. That much time off the court certainly won’t speed up his progress.
Amile Jefferson, meanwhile, has demonstrated his skills. While the Duke faithful has reason to be pleased with what Jefferson brings to the table, he isn’t a typical center. Although he has added weight in the offseason, he still won’t be a monstrous post player.
Instead, Duke will have to rely on Jefferson’s mobility and 7’1” wingspan. Defensively those can be advantageous if the defensive system is set up for ball pressure that prevents passes into the post. A highly active defense can make up for a lack of size.
The same formula applies to rebounding. If players crash the boards from different spots on the floor, it won’t matter that Duke doesn’t have a guy who can set up camp under the rim. The effectiveness and commitment to this solution will determine the fate of Duke’s season. For that reason, post play will be the ad nauseam talking point for the Blue Devils throughout 2013-14.