BoldenMitchell
Bolden was extremely effective against the Tar Heels Thursday.

Take of the week: Marques Bolden needs to play 12-plus minutes per game



Every week, the Blue Zone will make a take on college basketball—whether that take may be hot, cold or lukewarm. This week's take is in from managing sports editor and men's basketball beat writer Mitchell Gladstone:

Every game this season, Duke has rolled out the same lineup—Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. in the backcourt, with Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. down low. That's nice and there is little question those five will be the most important players for the Blue Devils the rest of the way.

But Duke needs to get something from its bench. 

And although I don't think head coach Mike Krzyzewski will find all that much from his reserves, the most critical backup player as the Blue Devils head toward March will be Marques Bolden.

Thursday night, Krzyzewski was not one for praise—except Bolden. The sophomore was the only name he mentioned with any real positivity. 

The sophomore big man played 17 minutes, the most action he's seen since early December, and scored eight points without missing a shot. He was even part of a new three-big lineup alongside Carter and Bagley that could pose challenges for smaller teams—if Duke can get productive offense and rebounding with the trio on the court together.

Outside of his offensive outburst against lowly St. Francis earlier this year, Bolden's scoring output vs. North Carolina was tied for the best of his career and his defensive effort was the only one that stood out on a Blue Devil team that has seemed clueless as to how to stop opponents from scoring.

All that said, if Bolden averages more than 15 minutes down the stretch of this season, I will be shocked. But at least a dozen a night is more than reasonable—in fact, it's probably what Duke needs. It's not fair to ask five guys to play 35-plus minutes every game, and against the Tar Heels, all of the starters except for Duval did just that.

Javin DeLaurier has shown nothing in a year where I expected him to break out. Jordan Goldwire has disappeared from the rotation. Alex O'Connell will give the Blue Devils some shooting, but it's hard to predict when. And the Jack White era was likely short-lived. 

Bolden is the player that Duke needs to turn to. And if he can deliver, the Blue Devils' can reinforce their biggest strength. 


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