clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Landlord Still Holds The Lease In Cameron - Williams To Return!

As you surely know by now, on Monday Shelden Williams
announced that he would pass on the NBA draft and would stay at Duke for his
senior year. He released this statement:

"From the time I arrived in Durham it has been my goal to earn my degree. For that reason along with others, I am going to pass on the opportunity to enter the NBA
Draft. I am looking forward to finishing off my academic career with a degree and also returning to the playing court to help Duke compete for the National Championship next season."

On Tuesday he is expected to talk to the press and obviously
say a lot more. And there's a lot more to be said.

For the rest of the ACC, it's not good news, but for Duke,
it's great.

Duke starts next season with seniors Williams, J.J. Redick,
Shavlik Randolph, Lee Melchionni, Sean Dockery, and Patrick Johnson.
DeMarcus Nelson will be a sophomore. So will Dave McClure, though his status is
not yet clear because of his lingering knee injury.

Then the freshmen - 6-11 Josh McRoberts, point guard Greg
Paulus, 6-4 Martynas Pocius, 6-7 Jamal Boykin, and 6-10 Eric Boateng.

All but possibly Boateng will contribute early.

Duke will go from a razor-thin bench to, barring another wave
of injuries, one of the deepest teams in the nation. A number of other
things will change as well.

With Williams to anchor the defense, and a lot more bodies to
throw at opponents, Duke won't have to play tactically on defense anymore.
They'll be able to play defense with abandon - more so since Shelden will be
behind them to bail everyone out.

This past year, everyone had to do things that they had never
done before because of the depth issue. So you saw things like a 6-3 guard
playing in the post and a 6-10 national defensive player of the year bringing
the ball upcourt.

Everyone's role will change, and that can be a good or bad
thing, individually and collectively.

For a guy like DeMarcus Nelson, it could be either. On the one
hand, he won't have to do the things he was required to do this past year - and
may we say, which he at times did magnificently. His rebounding was
unreal, and he had some amazing inside plays. At 6-3, that's normally a
bonus, but last year, it was a Godsend.

This year, with three (five counting Patrick Johnson and Eric
Boateng, who will both likely be deep reserves) big men, and then Jamal Boykin,
Nelson will have to be a more traditional guard. It means working on his
ballhandling and shooting and like everyone else, his defense.

For a guy like Shavlik Randolph, it'll mean changes as
well. Although his offense has come in for a lot of criticism over his
career, his defense has been very good, and his rebounding has been pretty
reasonable as well.

That said, McRoberts is a gifted young big man and will bull
his way into some serious minutes quickly.

Sean Dockery, who most people thought couldn't handle the
point, did it and did it well enough that his injury posed a serious blow to
Duke's late season chances. But with Greg Paulus putting on dazzling shows
in the All-Star games, Dockery may not be the starting point guard come

Then again, his defense will earn him minutes, and he has at
times been a one-man wrecking crew on defense. Paulus could take the ball
away from Dockery and at the same time allow him to be vastly more effective in
a different role.

Redick will have a lot less pressure on his shoulders, and a
lot more support, and with Paulus distributing (someone - Bob Gibbons?
Howard Garfinkel? called him a young Cousy recently), he should greatly

We're not sure how Lee Melchionni's role will change in terms
of what he's asked to do on the court, but the one thing that will change is his
status: he'll go from an unsung hero to a captain, and given his history, we
have no doubt he'll carve out a role on this team as well.

Pocius and Boykin will push for minutes, too. Boykin has
been compared, attitude and personality wise, to Shane Battier, so you have some
idea of how he is regarded. Like Steve Nash, he works very hard on
overcoming what are perceived as liabilities, and he's going to have an impact.

Pocius has stunned some people with his athleticism, and if he
can play defense in the Duke tradition, will push for big minutes also.

And although Boateng will likely be brought up to speed over
the course of a year or longer, he has some nice potential as well.

If you remember the movie "Dead Poets Society," that
was filmed at his prep school. Beautiful school, lousy basketball.

For Eric, while the education was no doubt superb, the
basketball competition was far from it. And at least one coach we know of
sees that as a major liabilty, believing that you actually get worse when the
competition is so inferior. Having several skilled big guys to kick him
around for a year will be a huge help for Boateng.

With Williams back, Duke is almost certainly at least a
preseason Top 3 team, possibly pre-season #1.

He'll set the tone defensively, and of course will start,
along with Redick. The other three positions are up for grabs, but if you
know Duke, you know too that whoever starts will have to play great defense.
Right now, today, that would give an edge to Randolph and Dockery. But a
lot will change between now and the first exhibition game, which we wish was
tomorrow. Can't we speed the offseason up??