Yesterday we told you that Reggie Love will
rejoin the basketball team. Love is back in school to finish the second part of
a double major after being cut by the Packers.
Love, who came over from the football team in 2001, played a key role in the
championship drive, helping out up front when Carlos Boozer went down with a
broken foot. He turned in a stunning effort vs. Brendan Haywood,
dominating UNC's big man despite giving up eight inches and a bunch of
weight. He also turned in a tremendous game against Missouri.
We hear that he has been listed at 6-4 and 240, which means he's even more
powerful than he was in 2001, although basketball conditioning may slim him
What does this mean to the team? A lot of things.
First of all, he'll walk into the lockerroom with a ring and with the
knowledge of how to get one: instant elder statesman. Secondly, experience
aside, he'll be a valuable and versatile player, mostly up front we're guessing,
and can help spell Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph and provide some muscle
and potentially matchup problems as well. He'll also pound those guys in
practice, which is great news.
Secondly, and this may sound funny, but he could be the difference between a
Sweet Sixteen team and a Final Four candidate.
Duke has some really tremendous players, but unfortunately, they only have
eight. Love can, to a lesser extent, play the role Mike Dunleavy played as
a freshman, substituting for possibly three or four players: Williams, Randolph,
Daniel Ewing, or JJ Redick (not to mention the other players in the rotation -
Lee Melchionni, Dave McClure, DeMarcus Nelson, and Sean Dockery. He can't
play directly for Dockery, who will get the first shot at point, but he can
relieve him while Ewing or possibly Nelson handles the ball).
This team now has significantly more depth than the 2000 team did, and the
early thoughts of playing zone (at least as discussed in the press) and doing
other somewhat radical things for a Krzyzewski-coached team will likely not
happen, unless there are injuries.
Other nice benefits to having Love around: aside from beating up the
big guys and putting practice pressure on them (meaning they aren't guaranteed
to start), he'll accelerate the development of Melchionni and McClure. We
know from watching him that Melchionni is a tougher-minded player than most
people realize, and we suspect McClure will prove to be hard-nosed as
We got a number of e-mails suggesting reservations about Love rejoining the
team, in light of some well-publicized problems earlier in his Duke career,
including a DWI charge which was dismissed with Prayer For Judgment, and an
incident in Chapel Hill which saw some disgraceful behavior by some UNC students
who really should have been charged with something.
We understand those concerns, but our belief is that Love has matured, or he
wouldn't be invited to rejoin the team. Certainly the football staff has
never indicated a concern with Reggie, and they're the ones who have dealt with
him the most.
Secondly, we're sure he understands that he has a rare second chance, and as
a guy who was a legitimate basketball recruit coming out of high school
(Georgetown was after him, among other schools), he must be enjoying the
prospect of being able to focus on basketball.
So welcome back, Reggie, and good to see you. We haven't forgotten what you
did for Duke basketball, and here's hoping you can write another chapter.