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More On Gbinije's Departure

We were sorry to hear Michael Gbinije decided to leave Duke, because we thought that he had a natural role with the team, and one that he could have easily built on.

Obviously his decision to leave leaves people wondering why a talented player couldn't find his way on a team which clearly could have used him.

We've gone over this a number of times, but here is a reminder of the way things are done at Duke.

Some of the requirements are defense, communication and trust. A player earns trust in practice by playing hard, communicating and most of all defending. In fact, it's really hard for us to remember someone who worked hard on defense not getting a role. Look at the list of players we mentioned Monday who left early: Bill Jackman, Christian Ast, Billy McCaffrey, Joey Beard, Mike Chappell, Eric Boateng, Jamal Boykin, Olek Czyz, Chris Burgess and Taylor King.

Do you remember any of these guys being excellent defenders? Possibly McCaffrey; that's it.

We could also have mentioned Elliot Williams, who left for Memphis to be closer to his ailing mother. Early in his freshman year, he sat. Later, he became a starter and (wait for it) a critical defender.

We're not quite sure why Gbinije never got there on defense, but that was an easy way for him to stake a claim, particularly on one of Coach K's weaker defensive teams.

It reminds us a bit of the NCAA loss to Tubby Smith's Kentucky when Duke was up, what, 17 in the second half?

Wojo was a passionate defender, but he ran into his limitations that game as he was neither big enough nor quick enough to stop Kentucky's point guard - was it Tony Delk?

If only Duke had a highly athletic swingman on the bench who might have been able to contest him.

Oh wait, they did. Only Ricky Price, with an altered role his senior year due to an academic suspension and improved talent, didn't embrace a chance to be a stopper. And so Kentucky was not stopped.

Michael Gbinije is a teenager and we don't want to pick on him; in fact we hope things go well for him wherever he ends up.

But we would ask you to consider this.

When Kenny Dennard was being recruited, or not being recruited perhaps, he decided that the best way to draw attention to himself at a summer event was to play defense like a crazy man. So he dove all over the asphalt for loose balls, bled profusely, and never relented. By the end of that day, he had made an indelible impression and offers began to roll in.

Now you may have a better memory of it that we do, but we can't remember seeing Gbinije diving for a loose ball or, for that matter, defending passionately.

We're not ripping him.  It's just a quiet realization. Duke needed defenders; it's why Tyler Thornton ended up starting.

Like Price, Gbinije could have defined his role differently. For whatever reason, he did not. So best of luck to him wherever he ends up.

But to borrow from Dean Smith, who said this to Clifford Rozier when he left UNC for Louisville, a word of advice: "Clifford, Louisville plays defense too."