February 13, 2010
In a game that featured the ACC's top two teams and two leading contenders for conference player of the year, the key to Saturday's Duke victory over Maryland was ... wait a minute ... Brian Zoubek?
Yes, the oft-criticized Duke 7-footer delivered by far the best game of his career at an ideal time, exploiting Maryland's lack of size down low to help propel the ACC-leading Blue Devils to a convincing 77-56 victory. Zoubek made his first start of the season in place of the ailing Lance Thomas and posted 16 points and 17 rebounds, all in just 22 minutes no less.
Anything more than a few altered shots and defensive boards from Zoubek is always a welcome surprise for Duke considering how much the once-heralded recruit has struggled in his four years in Durham. The senior entered Duke as one of the top high school centers in the nation in 2006, but injuries and a lack of explosiveness in the post kept him from ever living up to the hype.
Although Zoubek has become a solid rebounder and defender off the bench as a senior, he still averaged only 4.9 points per game and hadn't scored in double figures yet in a conference game. That's why you can understand the outpouring of surprise and shock on Saturday from Duke fans on twitter immediately after the final buzzer sounded.
• AGoldBuzz Words that have never been uttered: They couldn't contain Zoubek!
• noahpseudonym I had to rewind the dvr but have confirmed that Zoubek dunked the ball in a game
• TheBWN Who is this, and what have you done with Brian Zoubek?
If Kareem Abdul Zoubek, as one Baltimore scribe called him, could build on this effort the rest of the season, the Devils would have a legitimate 7-foot low-post threat to complement their array of athletic quicker big men.
And if not? Well, at least Zoubek got the critics off his back for a night and made a memory he'll probably remember the rest of his life.