The Duke men’s basketball team won this year’s NCAA Championship thanks in large part to 7’1″ senior center Brian Zoubek.
Plagued by foot injuries throughout his college career, the 2009-2010 season greeted the 22-year-old New Jersey native with tepid expectations. A defensive-minded reserve entering the season, Zoubek won a starting role by February because of his effort and work ethic on both ends of the court. Zoubek remained a solid contributor for the Blue Devils during their regular-season stretch run, but reached another level of performance once the NCAA Tournament hit. In the Big Dance, it seems, size truly matters.
Perhaps one of the most self-aware players in all of college basketball, Zoubek was renowned for his ability to grab an offensive rebound and immediately turn and face the three-point arc, looking for a more offensive-minded teammate to pass the ball to. Many big men, talented or not, would prefer to grab a board and look to create their own scoring opportunity. Not Zoubek. He did whatever it took to secure a second chance for his teammates. Any points he provided were a bonus for a Blue Devil ballclub that wasn’t relying on their center to score.