No Giles for a while? For title contender Duke, no problem
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Duke packed its roster full of star freshmen. The Blue Devils already will be without one of them for a while.
The presumptive Atlantic Coast Conference favorites won't have Harry Giles for a few weeks after he had his left knee scoped.
Better to take care of cleaning up the scar tissue and loose bodies inside Giles' knee now, coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday, rather than allow it to linger through what could be a special season.
''Will we have all the talent available at the time you have the opportunity to win the championship?'' Krzyzewski said. ''That's why we're making sure that Harry is good right now. The championship is not going to be won in October and November. The championship we want to win is the national championship. ... I don't know how many programs have that (as a legitimate) goal. We do, so we're going to try to conduct our season appropriately.''
The Blue Devils enter the season as one of the favorites to win their sixth national championship, and third since 2010, and Giles is a big - though certainly not the only - reason why.
A centerpiece of what's considered one of the nation's top recruiting classes, the 6-foot-10 Giles had an arthroscopy on his left knee earlier this week, his third procedure on one of his knees. He tore several ligaments in that knee three years ago, then tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the other knee last November and wound up missing his senior season in high school.
This procedure was nowhere near as severe as the previous two - team officials say the typical recovery time is six weeks, putting it close to the Nov. 11 season opener against Marist - but it does create an early test of adversity for a team coming off a season defined by its struggles to replace a key player lost to injury.
Duke was never the same team last season after high-energy forward Amile Jefferson broke his foot in December and eventually was lost for the season. Those Blue Devils essentially went with a six-man rotation, and their lack of depth helped lead to losses to Louisville, Notre Dame and, ultimately, Oregon in the West Regional semifinals.
Depth doesn't seem like an issue on this team, which is full of five-star freshmen - Jayson Tatum, Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden and Frank Jackson, in addition to Giles - and talented returnees including third-team AP All-American Grayson Allen and Jefferson, who received a medical hardship waiver that allows him to play an extra season.
''Really talented - maybe one of the most talented Duke teams here,'' Jefferson said.
Indeed, these Blue Devils have options, and an abundance of them.
They can use the 6-11 Bolden and the 6-10 DeLaurier inside. Or, they could go small with some combination of Jefferson, Allen, Tatum, Jackson, sophomore Luke Kennard or senior co-captain Matt Jones.
''We have to be careful that we don't try to do too many'' combinations and options, Krzyzewski said, ''so that, what are the best things we can do with the group? ... I'd rather have it, instead of doing too many things, doing a number of things with people doing them from different positions. ... It'll take on different looks.''