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Is Not Having Tarik Black A Big Deal?

There have been some reactions posted to Tarik Black's choice of Kansas over Duke and what it may mean for Duke. Our opinion? Not as much as you might think.

Look, obviously Black is a big guy and not without talent. But he hasn't done much with it yet and there was never a guarantee that he would have at Duke either.

He would have at the least helped with depth.

After that, Duke has two main guys to depend on, three if needed.

A lot of people are expecting Amile Jefferson to take over and we could see that. He needs to get a lot stronger, but he's the most natural interior player on the team so far.

We love his court intelligence. He's going to be really good. And it wouldn't be the first time Duke went with an undersized center: Duke went to several Final Fours with John Smith and Robert Brickey playing in the post. You could argue that Elton Brand was undersized at 6-8, but his bulk and long arms more than made up for any lack of height.

Still do.

However, Marshall Plumlee never seems to come up in this discussion or when he does, it's in a sense of "oh man Duke has to count on him." And the writer usually goes on to mention that he only played 50 minutes or so all season.

But here's what they're forgetting: before he was hurt, Coach K referred to him as a sixth man. He also played the entire season hurt, which, you know, might have contributed to his low minutes.

They may also be associating him with his brothers, which is a mistake. He's not nearly as talented.

He's also, we think, correspondingly smarter on the court. Call it the Plumlee Paradox: as the physical talent goes down, as it does with each brother, the basketball IQ goes up.

This is bound to be because the young 7-footers had a rare opportunity to get driveway tiime against other young 7-footers on a daily basis. Marshall, the youngest and least talented, had to figure out ways to do things against the other two.

When you can't dominate physically, you have to find other ways to compete.

Marshall is also, among the three brothers, the only one who sees himself as a center.

A small bit of anecdotal evidence: we watched him in warmups this past season and were stunned - and we don't use that lightly - to see just how quickly he could fake and turn for a jump hook. Completely shocked us. Isn't he supposed to be big and slow? Well, on that move he sure as hell isn't.

What that suggests is that he's put in some really serious time because, unlike his brothers, he can't show up and succeed with a 40" (Miles) or 36" (Mason) vertical.

And we're not slamming his brothers. They're astonishing big men, able to run and jump with the elite. But they've never been, strictly speaking, post players. Marshall is.

Finally, despite a certain level of fan confusion, if our e-mail is any judge, Josh Hairston is hugely unappreciated. He can't fly over tall buildings, true, but he's smart, he works hard and he embraces the dirty work.

Between the three of them, Duke can find a solution.