Is Dar Tucker's NBA jump a blessing in disguise?
It appears that Dar Tucker isn't coming back. Monday is the final day for college players to withdraw their name from the NBA Draft pool, but all indications are that Tucker is sticking with his dream of jumping to the show after his sophomore season.
The question for the Blue Demons though isn't how they are going to replace Tucker, but if they might be better off without him in the lineup. Tucker, for all his athletic talents on the court, had quite a few negatives to his game as well. It's tough to say which were the more overpowering during his second season at DePaul.
Tucker certainly has many physical gifts. At 6'5" 215 pounds with good athleticism he went straight to the hoop on many players. Unfortunately, Tucker's struggles to shoot the ball from long-range during his sophomore season diminished a lot of his driving opportunities. Players sagged off of him and forced him to take ill-advised jump shots, and Tucker was far to happy to oblige.
Tucker's shooting percentage fell from 43.5 percent as a freshman to 39.0 as a sophomore. (A lot of which had to do with poor shot selection.) The decline was especially harmful for DePaul because Tucker also had become the focal point of the Blue Demon offense. He shot almost 200 more attempts during his second season at DePaul. Tucker attempted 17 percent of DePaul's entire shot total during the 2008-09 season.
With Tucker out of the picture, the DePaul offense has a chance to become a whole lot less predictable. Head coach Jerry Wainwright's offense doesn't depend on one star to work. It involves quick passing. Only four times all season did the Blue Demons finish with 15 assists or more. While that's not all Tucker's fault, when one player dominates the ball and uses 17 percent of the team's total possessions he sets the tone for the offense.
For all his faults, Tucker did finish fifth on the team in offensive rating during the 2008-09 season. One of the players he finished behind, Matija Poscic, has graduated. Still, the arrival of swingman Mike Stovall and 6'5" Ohio State transfer combo guard Eric Wallace should give the Blue Demons plenty of options next season.
Ironically, something that might be missed more than Tucker's offense is Tucker's defense. His athleticism allowed him to keep up with a variety of players. He was second on DePaul in steal percentage at 2.6 percent. The strain on defense should be eased by the return of another sophomore who was testing the draft waters, Mac Koshwal.
The loss of Dar Tucker isn't a debilitating one for the DePaul program. Tucker's strengths are offset by the weaknesses he could've stayed in school to work on. This isn't Wilson Chandler leaving after his sophomore season. It's just another marker along the road for Blue Demons.