Dave Telep: When you bring in a class that large, inevitably some guys will work out more so than others, statistics tell us that elite programs like Duke convert 70% of their top 100 players into good college players. Doc, JJ, Shelden were Top 100s that played to their billing (Dockery more so in the 2nd half of his career) while Randolph and Thompson didn't quite meet expectations. On the same note, Melchionni wasn't a Top 100 player and he proved to be a valuable role player throughout his career.
Having said that, this class did its job. It produced the greatest scorer in the history of the ACC and Shelden Williams, a first-team All-American. There are some who will be disappointed that no title followed this group but these kids, collectively, raised the profile once again of Duke basketball and their four-year run was complete with special moments, stretches of greatness and chances to capture titles. Any coach in America, would have felt honored to coach this group.
Was Redick great or was he a really good player who became a byproduct of the Duke system being bended to fit his game? Did that bending of the system effect other players?
JJ Redick elevated his game year after year and that's about all you can ask out of a player. Shelden Williams was a first team All-American who routinely hit double-doubles. Anyone who wonders whether or not Redick was a great player needed only to watch the last 5 minutes of this year's ACC championship. No system is able to provide the heroics that this guy manufactured.
Did the 2005-2006 Blue Devils get the most out of what they had or did they fall short?
I think they pretty got really close to maxing it out. There were more talented and deeper teams overall in the tournament that on any given day you could have flipped a coin to determine the winner. Against LSU, the Tigers team athleticism really created opportunities and Duke came up just short. They captured the ACC regular season and tournament titles and there is plenty to celebrate with this group.
Duke's 2005 recruiting class was ranked very highly in the final Scout rankings. So what happened to Boykin, Boateng, Pocius? Did their disappearance surprise you? What does the future hold for these three?
They'll have to continue battling for minutes because as you know, year in and year out, Duke targets and signs elite talent. These guys are good players who are capable of filling roles on the team. Having said that, there is fierce competition for minutes in Durham and the challenge for them will be to have the kind of off-season that raises their level of play. The way I see it, there could be four guys fighting for reserve minutes next season in Duke.
What do you think of the three (or four if Lance commits) players coming into the system next year? How do they fit in?
Henderson's athleticism and rebounding will be a big assist. He's a stud. Scheyer is a player. He's been through so much already as a high school player that he's equipped to be successful in college right away. Zoubek will have to continue advancing as an athlete to help them inside.
I think Thomas provides them with more bounce inside and the ability to play a few different positions. To me, his value as a recruit for Duke has increased as the season has gone along.
Only Josh McRoberts can answer that. He's going to make money someday. Business wise I'm sure he'll evaluate his options but having watched his reaction at the end of the game yesterday I think there's a collegiate fire burning in him for another run at it. Plus, he really began playing to his capabilities as the season progressed. He made great strides.
How good can Duke be next season? Who will need to step up?
I'm not sure if its just one person that needs to step up. Paulus and McRoberts will have some freshmen friends that they'll need to assist in bringing along. Talent is heading to Durham as it always has and this team's identity won't be forged this March but rather next fall.
On the recruiting trail, Duke already has two players in the truck in 2007. They still await Lance Thomas' decision. Where do you see Duke concentrating throughout the summer?
I think Duke will probably continue evaluating players and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get aggressive with another athlete with size. That's just my initial post-season thought. Thomas could be that guy or he could come in 2007. At this point in the season emotions over the year ending are raw, especially with this team because of the seniors. Programs usually take a week or so, step back and evaluate the personnel and then draw up plans for the spring.
In your opinion what role do Coach K's extra activities (USA, commercials, etc) play in the recruiting game? Do they help Duke (extra exposure) or are they used against him by other schools (opponents citing his numerous commitments as distractions)?
There isn't a rival recruiter on the planet that could have success trying to sell that in recruiting against Duke. Mike Krzyzewski is the most powerful college basketball coach in America. He's never too busy to coach his team and the added exposure, combined with the fact that Coach K isn't about to let Duke's recruiting slip insures Duke will motor right along. Exposure promotes the brand and the brand of Duke basketball is probably near an all-time high.
After Thursday night a lot of Duke fans are understandably skiddish in regards to the future. Duke has a lot of question marks going forward and with several ACC programs loading up. Has Duke's place as a recruiting power taken a small step back in any way?
No. They are one of THE recruiting powers. Do they have the most weapons right now? No. Can they close that gap and fast? Absolutely.
Finally, on negative perception that has been bandied about amongst the recruiting world is that Duke has become more of a system based program than one that caters to players. Is that a common description you hear form players?
No, and it's a bad perception. Different teams take on different complexions. Mike Krzyzewski has said it himself numerous times that you don't coach every kid and every team the same way. What Duke looks like today might not be the product they roll out tomorrow. Based on what personnel they have in the program at the time dictates the makeup of the team. If Duke is a "system" school, it's a hell of a system!