Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Duke running short of big bodies

A broken bone in 7-foot-1 Brian Zoubek’s foot leaves Duke without a true center on its roster.

Zoubek is out indefinitely, leaving the Blue Devils to rely on Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas and Taylor King in the post. The only thing coach Mike Krzyzewski can do to address Duke’s lack of muscle underneath in the short term is rely more on the fast break and 3-point shooting.

For the long term, Duke’s recruiting is reflecting that need for big bodies on the boards. Olek Czyz is a 6-foot-7, 235-pound banger who is a native of Poland and will join the Blue Devils next season as a freshman.

The real prize for Duke could be Greg Echenique, a 6-8, 240-pound junior center at St. Benedict Prep in New Jersey. All-Star Sports recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons spotted Mike Krzyzewski and his assistants watching Echenique at a tournament during the holidays.

Echenique is somewhat overshadowed on his own team by Louisville-bound senior big man Samardo Samuels, but could become a focal point of Duke’s recruiting nonetheless.

North Carolina already has commitments from 6-10 juniors John Henson of Round Rock, Texas, and David and Travis Wear of Santa Ana, Calif. Duke needs some big bodies, too, if it’s going to remain competitive with its rival.

– Ken Tysiac