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Duke Is Not Doomed

Some people just love to get carried away...

Al Bello

Well this was inevitable: after Duke's loss to Arizona, people were going to ask if Duke's inside play would be the team's doom. Short answer: no.

First of all, we expect that at some point the light will come on for Amile Jefferson and he'll kick it to a higher level. And the same for Rasheed Sulaimon. And when he starts clicking, the defensive pressure will go up correspondingly.

And it's not like it's the first time Duke's been small inside. The '86 team had Jay Bilas and Mark Alarie, but remember in 1986 guys like David Robinson stayed in school for more than a year. Brad Daugherty too. And Duke also faced Len Bias, Danny Manning and John Salley.

Being smaller then was a real challenge. Jay Bilas told us once that as a young player, Brad Daugherty turned to him when someone was at the line and said "I'm going to beat you like a rented mule."

A few years later, Duke went with 6-5 Robert Brickey and 6-7 John Smith in the post. Those teams did okay.

So did the Illinois Final Four team with Marcus Liberty and Kendall Gill, among others. Everyone was between 6-4 and 6-8.

Butler did okay too.

So don't buy into this idea because it's stupid. And even if it weren't stupid, it's November. There's lots of time to evolve.