Staying healthy is step one

The health and skill set development of 7-1 260 pound Brian Zoubek have the potential to impact the 2008-09 Duke Blue Devils. If Zoubek overcomes the roadblocks experienced his first two seasons in Durham, he has the potential to breakout and have a very good season. The rap on Duke last year was the lack of a serious post presence. Zoubek has the size to develop into a solid post player, but he needs to stay healthy in order to develop the skills necessary to accomplish the job.

As a freshman, Zoubek struggled with turnovers. He turned the ball over 37 times in 235 minutes of action. At times, it seemed as if the refs blew the whistle and indicated traveling before Zoubek even caught the ball. Injuries derailed his sophomore season as he incurred a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot, during a pick-up game, on July 9, 2007, and then re-injured it in early January 2008. Zoubek underwent surgery on the foot twice and is currently finishing rehabilitation.

Being outrebounded 45 – 19 in the season ending loss to West Virginia lends credibility to the “lack of a serious post presence” rap. The single most important skill Zoubek needs to develop is the ability to control the boards. He grabbed 13 rebounds against St. John’s on February 23, 2008, and nine rebounds against NCCU on November 9, 2007. As a junior, Duke needs him to consistently pull down rebounds, especially offensive rebounds that can be converted into points. Zoubek’s career high for offensive rebounds is five, which is a respectable number. A couple of stick backs a game could be vital.

Another required skill development is knocking down free throws. Zoubek must improve on his career FT average of 58.4 percent. As a big guy, battling inside, he is going to get fouled and it is imperative that Zoubek develop the ability to go to the line and knock down the free ones. Two or three extra points a game can make a big difference. Zoubek’s best game from the free throw line was against Columbia on November 12, 2006, when he went 10 – 13 from the charity stripe.

Duke does not need Brian Zoubek to develop into a dominating post player, but of course that would be nice. The Blue Devils need Zoubek to develop into a consistent player who can average 20 minutes a game and produce eight points and eight rebounds per contest. Maintaining a clean bill of health is the first and most important step for Brian Zoubek to develop into the anchor in the middle.