Friday, November 11, 2005

Basketball Preview Part I: Meet Jared Dudley

Jared Dudley is the most complete player on this season’s basketball team. If things go according to plan, three months from now, he’ll be the most hated player in the ACC.

Like nearly every Duke star of the Coach K era, Dudley is the type of guy you love when he is on your team and hate when he is on your opponents. He hustles, he’s boisterous, he is always in the middle of things, he will yank a jersey and burry a shot with the game on the line. All these little traits overshadow a great basketball player.

Dudley can do it all. His main strength is his basketball IQ. He knows where he is supposed to be on the floor and knows where everyone else should be. Dudley will make the better pass if it will lead to a high percentage play (95 assists to 49 turnovers last year). Why is this supposed superman not more well known? If he is so good, why wasn’t he recruited by bigger schools? Why did they cut him from Team USA? Honestly, I think it is looks rather than results. Dudley’s slight frame and slow step make him seem inferior. Maybe at each step coaches and scouts thought he couldn’t make the transition to the next level. Dudley is obviously lean. Yet he was able to handle the physical nature of the Big East play. As for foot speed, I don’t think it impacts him that much. BC plays a lot of zone and Dudley has proven he can score without dribbling around people.

Other areas of improvement heading into this season: free throws or his three point shooting (I guess). Dudley shot 75% from the line and 33% from beyond the arc, but I don’t think it captures how clutch he is. In our two toughest losses (Notre Dame and UW Milwaukee) he carried the team in uphill battles. Against UW Milwaukee he was the only one who was able to breakdown their press and get to the line (he went 18-21). His extra work around the basket makes his team better. He averaged 7.5 rebounds per game in addition to his strong assist numbers.

Craig Smith deserves a lot of pub too, but Dudley is the key to the team’s success. I expect a big year from him this season. He’ll play out of position the first semester while we await Sean Williams’ return. But after that I think his continued maturity, the less physical nature of the ACC and improved shooting from 3 will take his game to another level.

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