Takeaway No. 2: Duke basketball has never had a player like Theo John
Not to overreact after one game, but grad transfer Theo John may become the best backup center in Duke history. The fifth-year senior from Marquette provides a much-needed edge and toughness that the Blue Devils sorely missed last year.
His numbers don’t exactly jump off the page when looking at the box score, but the Duke program has never had someone with the type of presence that John brings off the bench. He is a big, strong, tatted-up grown man who isn’t afraid to talk smack. Simply put, he provides an intimidation factor that Duke just has not had over the last couple of seasons.
John certainly had his work cut out for him in the 22 minutes he played in his Duke basketball debut. He had the task of trying to keep Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe off the glass, which is virtually impossible. Tshiebwe destroyed the Blue Devils on the offensive glass, grabbing 12 (!!) offensive rebounds.
Duke’s sophomore 7-footer, Mark Williams, struggled to handle Tshiebwe’s strength and physicality on the boards, which provided the opportunity for John to step up. He did a much better job on Tshiebwe and kept him off the offensive glass on crucial possessions.