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October 5, 2006

New-look Dudley ready to carry load for B.C.

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Losing weight has become all the rage in college basketball.

LSU's Glen Davis and Pittsburgh's Aaron Gray - both former members of the 300-pound club (Davis was closer to the 400-pound club at one time) - showed up with slimmer physiques last year and the thinner-but-still-big men proceeded to have two of the best seasons in the nation.

J.J. Redick's move from a good shooter to one of the best players in college basketball was ignited by a 20-pound weight loss between his sophomore and junior seasons, when his scoring average jumped from 15.9 points per game to 21.8 ppg.

Boston College senior small forward Jared Dudley is one of the latest hoping to be part of a similar transformation.

Never considered overweight, the 6-foot-7 Dudley was still determined to trim down this past summer. He eliminated fried foods from his diet, stopped snacking late at night, replaced Gatorades and sodas with propels (lightly-flavored waters made by Gatorade) and also gave up Mexican food, his favorite cuisine.

The result: Dudley is down to 220 pounds from 238 his weight at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.

"I'm trying to change my body a little," Dudley told Rivals.com. "I wanted to drop weight and get in better condition. It's a new season. I'm going to have a different look and so will the team."

The alterations to the roster will be much more dramatic than Dudley's makeover.

Star power forward Craig Smith, last season's leading scorer (17.6 ppg) and rebounder (9.4 rpg), has headed off to the NBA. Dudley and Smith who was selected 36th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves - were the face of the program the last two seasons. They took turns carrying the team offensively, and led the Eagles to the Sweet 16 in March.

Dependable point guard Louis Hinnant is also gone. Hinnant started 94 of 95 games the last three seasons and helped guide the the Eagles to three NCAA Tournaments.

"Personally, Craig made it a lot easier on me, but I have waited for the chance to show what we can accomplish with me as the leader of this team," said Dudley, who stayed on campus for the first half of summer and also attended the Jordan and Nike All-American camps. "I want to make that leap to one of the best players in the country, not just the conference. That means making my teammates better and getting them more involved."

Dudley, who averaged 16.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, will get that chance. A well-balanced group surrounds the versatile veteran. The Eagles look like a contender again in the ACC despite the heavy losses.

Senior wing Sean Marshall averaged 11.1 points per game in each of the last two seasons.

Junior center Sean Williams (6-10), a shot-blocking specialist, looks poised for a breakout season after swatting a school-record 63 attempts while averaging just 17 minutes per game.

Dynamic sophomore guard Tyrese Rice is also back. He averaged 9.3 points while playing 20 minutes per game. Rice scored 16 points at North Carolina, 23 at Wake Forest and 19 versus Maryland last season, all wins for the Eagles.

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"Sean has to stay out of foul trouble," Dudley said. "That is the No. 1 thing. We have to have him on the court and he has to give us something on offense.

"Tyrese came in as a change-of-speed guy not being a starter last year. Now, he'll come in and run the show. If no one knows him now, by the end of the year they definitely will."

Dudley says sophomore guard Marquez Haynes, another name that most fans aren't familiar with, will have a big impact as well. Haynes played a limited role in his first season, averaging 2.5 ppg.

"Marquez is going to play a lot more minutes and he's got to step up," Dudley said. "He can open up shots for us and is also a very good on-ball defender."

The personnel changes will also mean a significant change in style of play for a program that's developed a reputation for overpowering opponents on the inside under 10th-year coach Al Skinner.

"I'm not saying we are going to have an up-and-down tempo, but we aren't going to come down court and take a lot of shots down low anymore," Dudley said. "We are going to take quicker shots. We are a lot more athletic than last year. We have to take advantage of that quickness."

Thanks to his new, thinner frame, Dudley will be well suited to do just that.

Trivia Question:
What team has led the nation in blocked shots the last five seasons? Hint: They lost five starters from last season. (Answer at the end of the column)

Adding and Subtracting more pounds in Austin
Texas strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright is working his magic once again.

Three members of the Longhorns' highly touted freshmen class which came in at No. 3 in Rivals.com's team rankings have undergone large weight gains or losses.

None are as dramatic as 6-10 center Dexter Pittman, who has lost more than 50 pounds since June, going from 366 to 315.

Mega-talented small forward Kevin Durant doesn't look nearly as lanky as when he showed up on campus at 202 pounds. He's added some muscle and recently weighed in at 222, scary news for the rest of the league.

Point guard D.J. Augustin trimmed down, going from 192 to 175.

We'll have a full story on how Wright and the newcomers pulled it all off in the coming days.

Walking Wounded
Louisville guard Brandon Jenkins, the team's third-leading scorer last season, had a screw removed from his broken leg on Monday and is expected to be out for four to six more weeks. He was originally feared to be lost for the entire season.

Jenkins' recovery will have a big impact on the Cardinals. If he can return to full strength by the time Big East play starts, they have a good chance to contend for the league title. If not, they will rely heavily on freshman guards Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith.

Arizona guard Jawann McClellan (knee) and prize recruit Chase Budinger (tonsillitis) both began practicing again recently, but Budinger looked sluggish and will have to work his way back into playing shape in the coming weeks.

One of Stanford's 6-foot-11 twin centers, Brook Lopez, won't be available for the start of practice on Oct. 13 because he had minor back surgery two weeks ago.

Nebraka point guard Jamel White will also miss an undetermined number of practices with a fractured collarbone.

Maryland freshman center Jerome Burney will miss four to six weeks with a fractured left foot.

Quick hits
The eligibility of Connecticut's 7-foot-2 freshman HaSheem Thabeet is being looked at by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Thabeet can't practice until the NCAA makes its ruling.

Dayton junior guard Norman Plummer and senior forward Rich McBride were both indefinitely suspended after being arrested for recent DUIs. Plummer averaged a team-high 6.5 rebounds last season. McBride, who averaged 10 points per game, was expected to play a key role for the Flyers this season.

Answer to trivia question: Connecticut

Note: Information from editors within the Rivals.com network and other media outlets were used in this report.

Andrew Skwara is the national college basketball writer for Rivals.com, and he files his national notebook every week. Click here to send him a question or comment for his weekly mailbag.

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