Duke basketball now without several men versus Boston College

Duke basketball (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) /

Two players and one coach are out for Duke basketball’s anticipated return.

The good news is, unlike the past two scheduled Duke basketball outings, there has not yet been any word of a postponement to the home game at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Knock on wood.

Assuming No. 21 Duke (3-2, 1-0 ACC) does take the floor against Boston College (2-7, 0-3 ACC), the 20 days that have passed since the squad’s win at Notre Dame on Dec. 16 will mark the program’s longest stretch between contests in the same season since the 1911-12 campaign (29 days, Dec. 13 to Jan. 12).

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The bad news is, for a few different reasons, the Blue Devils won’t have the services of a few important weapons against the Eagles.

Mike Krzyzewski is out. After recently coming into contact with a family member who tested positive for COVID-19, the 73-year-old head coach is continuing to quarantine all week. And per the Hall of Famer’s chat with media on Monday, it is iffy whether he’ll be on the bench when Duke hosts Wake Forest at noon Saturday.

Jalen Johnson remains out indefinitely. The five-star freshman forward, who is averaging 11.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, hasn’t played since the Dec. 8 loss in Durham to Illinois due to suffering a foot injury just before Duke’s trip to Notre Dame.

Now, Patrick Tapé is out as well and day-to-day. According to a Wednesday afternoon press release from Duke, the grad transfer injured his back in practice last week. Against the Fighting Irish, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound big man, who is averaging only 1.3 points and 1.3 rebounds but has seen only 16 total minutes of action thus far, earned his first start as a Blue Devil.

Fortunately, Duke basketball has a deep bench of players and coaches

Associate head coach Jon Scheyer, along with fellow assistants Nate James, Chris Carrawell, and Nolan Smith, will hold down the fort in terms of in-game coaching duties until Mike Krzyzewski’s return.

As for the pieces that the staff will be working with for Duke’s first game of 2021, the Blue Devils look to be a bit thin in the paint minus Jalen Johnson and Patrick Tapé.

However, there are still seven active players who have each already drawn at least one start this season: senior guard Jordan Goldwire, freshman guard Jeremy Roach, freshman guard DJ Steward, junior forward Joey Baker, sophomore forward Wendell Moore, sophomore forward Matthew Hurt, and freshman center Mark Williams.

Plus, it’s conceivable that, with both Johnson and Tapé out, Jaemyn Brakefield will earn his first starting nod at Duke; after all, the freshman forward has been consistently productive off the bench the past four times out. Furthermore, freshman forward Henry Coleman might enjoy an increased role.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on the game against Boston College plus other Duke basketball news and views.