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Shav needs to fulfill the uber-hype

Against Wake Forest Saturday, Shavlik Randolph played three minutes, scored no points and committed one foul. In each of the six games before that, Randolph played 20 minutes or less and had either four or five fouls. In those six contests he failed to score more than eight points or grab more than nine rebounds.

So what has happened to Shavlik Randolph? In high school, Randolph put up 30 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks per game as a senior. He was regarded as a blue chip prospect—one that would’ve probably been able to jump straight to the NBA and be selected in the first round.

Then he came to Duke and got bigger. And for Randolph, bigger was not better. He was supposed to be a guy who could handle the ball and shoot, as well as bang in the paint.

Instead, he turned into a lumbering, soft big man who struggles to match the physical aggression of other forwards and centers in the ACC. He has also turned into a foul machine and has forced head coach Mike Krzyzewski to play Reggie Love and even Patrick Johnson on the interior.

Even though Randolph hasn’t been scoring, the biggest reason for his decline in playing time has been his poor defensive rebounding. The Blue Devils have plenty of firepower on the offensive end—the team needs bodies in the paint.

In their last five games against Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, the Blue Devils have given up 16.2 offensive rebounds per contest. Many of those rebounds have led to put-back dunks and easy layups. Quite often Randolph’s defensive assignment has done the damage.

Randolph has not been the victim of a few lucky bounces. Even though he seems strong and looks big, he constantly gets pushed around. Randolph also can’t jump at all. It’s almost painful watching him try to get off the ground to grab a rebound. In high school, scouts liked Randolph for his explosiveness around the basket. But ever since he put on weight at Duke, he has lost this ability. It really seems like Randolph is just not meant for his bigger body.

His three minutes Saturday are a sign that Krzyzewski is not going to settle for Randolph and would rather go with Love, a much less talented player. All Love gives the team is an athlete who is strong and can jump, but at this point that is far more valuable than what Randolph can offer.

The bottom line is that Randolph is out of excuses. When he first came to Duke, he played hurt during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Sometimes people cited his propensity for picking up fouls as an explanation for not living up to his hype. At the start of this year, Randolph had mono, which was a legitimate reason why his production was low.

But now, there is really no reason why he shouldn’t be much better than he is. In one of the biggest games of the year, he should be earning more than three minutes of playing time.

Randolph is a very popular player amongst locals from North Carolina who followed him through high school and is also a favorite of the student body. It’s time that he finds a role on the team and lives up to at least some of his hype.

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