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Next Up - Boston College

How will Duke do after an extended layoff?

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Notre Dame
Dec 16, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Patrick Tape (12) shoots against Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Juwan Durham (11) in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. 
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College comes to Duke with a 2-7 record, a start that puts Coach Jim Christian squarely on the hot seat, but don't let that mislead you about this game.


Here’s why.

First, look at the record. BC has given Villanova, St. John’s, Minnesota, NC State and Louisville solid games and most of them on the road.

Second, Christian has some decent players.

Jay Heath and Wynston Tabbs have the potential to be a really good backcourt. Stefan Mitchell is not a great offensive player but he really works the boards and defends hard.

Makai Ashton Langford transferred in from Providence and is starting.

CJ Felder is starting too and while the 6-7 sophomore hasn’t lit it up yet no one doubts his athletic potential.

Christian is working with a nine-man rotation with Rich Kelly, James Karnik, Demarr Langford Jr. and Frederick Scott come off the bench.

Kelly is a grad transfer from Quinnipiac and the 6-3 guard is a dangerous shooter.

Karnik, a 6-9 Canadian, transferred in from Lehigh where he was a pretty good defender.

Scott is also a grad transfer, in his case from Rider. He’s also a product of Simeon, which means he probably knows Duke’s DJ Steward, a fellow Chicago native. He also spent time at Oak Hill before starting at DePaul where he played for former Virginia coach Dave Leitao. He told this about choosing DePaul and Leitao: “It was close to home, so that’s why I decided to go there. I had a few other offers coming out of high school, but I decided I might as well stay home and see how that is. I was able to get a good experience being in the Big East, but then I had to part ways really quickly.“

Gee, wonder why.

And Langford is a 6-5 freshman who played at Brewster Academy and has real potential.

We can imagine putting these guys together may take some time but consider this: Christian has three grad transfers, five seniors, two juniors and five sophomores.

Duke has more talent, but it’s very young. If nothing else does, experience absolutely gives BC a chance.

Duke also of course will be without Coach K, who, let’s face it, is a great equalizer. Among his many talents, he’s a superb psychologist who can bring a group together and help young players step up to their potential.

And there’s also this. We’re pretty sure that Jalen Johnson is still out. Duke did okay at Notre Dame without him, moving instead to a three-guard lineup with bSteward, Jeremy Roach and Jordan Goldwire joining Matthew Hurt and Patrick Tapé.

Wendell Moore has been in a notable slump while Jaemyn Brakefield, Joey Baker and Mark Williams also came off the bench.

Brakefield has been a really great presence. He prides himself on bringing energy to the team and has added a lot to the team. An ambidextrous player, he’s also an excellent passer and shooter. The guy has really come on.

Baker has been a tough-minded player but it would really help if his shot came around. And Williams could have a big role in this game since he’s by far the longest player on either team.

Or as always, the mismatch could go the other way. Time will tell.

Clearly Duke will be favored, but BC has the advantage of being knocked around a bit, both individually and as a team. They’re really not that far from being a decent one and, like most people right now, see Duke as vulnerable. So you can be sure that the Blue Devils will get their very best shot Wednesday evening. And with Duke really playing minimally so far this season, and with a very young roster and no Coach K, who knows? There are a ton of variables here that could line up in very unpredictable ways. Let’s hope they fall Duke’s way.