How do you replace the guy who was supposed to be a replacement?

By Steve DiMiceli
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Losing Damian Saunders and Bill Clark will be devastating for this team but so is life in the NCAA where turnover after  4 or 5 years should be 100%. It should not be 50% within two years like it has been under Ron Everhart. Joel Wright is just the most recent Duke to leave well before he was supposed to. We don't know the events that lead up to his dismissal and based on what we experienced about Duquesne men's basketball under RE, we probably never will. However, it's just another loss in a pattern of losses.

Presumably, Wright would've filled a portion of the roles previously occupied by the departing seniors and his experience, however slight it was, would've come in handy in a very green front court. Chiehk Fall would've filled some more, but I'm confused that he still has not signed.  The Dukes do not have any proven options down low at this point with Andre Marhold yet to live up to his three star rating and Derrick Martin still without a minute of NCAA action. Of course, Rodrigo Peggau could make an unexpected return but he has was unsuccessful holding down the middle this past season. So what are the Dukes to do?

There are a few options:

1) Recruit, Recruit, Recruit

With the departure of Wright, it comes as no surprise to me that the Dukes were linked to 6'9'' PF  Alexandre Gavrilovic and a 6'11'' C Youssou N'Doye in the past week after pursuing nothing but swings. However big men take time to develop (see Aaric Murray and Kenny Frease). While they might be able to eat some minutes, I don't think I would what a true freshmen playing the 4 or 5 unless we're looking at an undersized athletic PF ala Wright or possibly Herrera. Still it would be nice to have at least one more guy with the right body type that we can throw under the hope.

2) Try Daniel Herrera at the 4

He might be able to take a role similar to Bill Clark where he played inside and outside on the offensive side of the ball and than played to the best of his abilities out of position on the defensive side. Again not an ideal situation, but it might be better than starting a true freshman big.

3) Mitigate the thin front court with our deep back court.

It was discussed even before the Joel Wright departure that Ron Everhart should consider going with a 3 guard set to give his best players more time on the court. Now, I'm almost certain this will be the best option at least for the non conference portion. Sean Johnson and TJ McConnell both rebound well for their size, and PJ Torres would provide good length at the 3rd guard position in the minutes that he plays. The team will need to rely on steals to help even out the opportunities, and thankfully, TJ should become one of the best in the NCAA next year. BJ Monteiro emerged as a ball hawk towards the end of the season and a healthy Eric Evans should get his as well. With three guards, the team would likely cut down on it's own turnovers and keep the assist numbers up around where they were this past season.

While I seem optimistic here, I think we're going to get killed on the glass and we'll really struggle to guard the post all year from a three guard set. We're going to give the other teams a lot of easy buckets.

4) Hybrid 10/40

We saw a modified 10/40 in the CBI and I suspect we could see a lot more of it moving forward. I'm not sure if this team will have a true star next year, so we might just want to spread the minutes around and run like crazy. I'd love to see a little more structure though and not just chucking three's. Moving the ball and speeding up the tempo could help to counter inevitable size and experience disadvantages in the post.

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