Next Up - Notre Dame

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

4:00 On CBS

Next up for Duke is a trip to Notre Dame, the first time the two have played as ACC rivals and Notre Dame's first ACC game ever.

There are a number of subtexts here, not least of all the teacher vs. pupil angle.

A lot of people forget, but Mike Brey must have made an impression to move from a DeMatha assistant to one at Duke. It only took him eight years to rise from a high school assistant to the head man at Delaware, where he did an absolutely phenomenal job.

Five years after that, he followed Matt Doherty at Notre Dame when Doherty left for UNC, and he's been there ever since.

And he's done a solid job, winning nearly 70% of his games.

Brey was hired by K's boss, Kevin White, before he left for Durham.

There's more than the Obi-wan-Anikin thing here though. There's the potential collapse of Notre Dame's season following the forced separation from Jerian Grant and the transfer of promising sophomore Cameron Biedscheid, who by the way attended the same school as former Blue Devil Chris Carrawell, St. Louis's Cardinal Ritter.

Even with those guys, Notre Dame was struggling, and the collapse against Ohio State was a disaster.

As Brey said, it's a program opportunity, a chance for Notre Dame to make an early statement in the ACC. The fans are going to be off the charts, not least of all because of the splash Jabari Parker has made. People want to see how good he really is (and he seems to be at his best in big games).

There's at least one more angle though, and we suspect this one may be more critical, if understated than the others. And that quite simply is Mike Krzyzewski's team knows he's suffered a heartbreaking loss this week. Nothing can be done about his brother Bill's death, and a sense of perspective is key here, but our guess is that his team doesn't want to hand him a loss on the court right now. Not that they ever do, but now least of all.

That said, you can't guarantee anything but effort. That shouldn't be a problem here.

Both Krzyzewskis tie in to an older definition of manhood, one which is largely lost on today's youth. Mike tried to coach his way through a debilitating injury in 1995; Bill never missed a day of work as a Chicago firefighter.

One wonders how often the average fireman gets burned, or something falls on his foot. Most all of us take a sick day here and there. How many accountants go their entire working life without ever missing a day?

It's an old school mentality, and when you're in a company with a guy who always shows up, who never backs down, what else can you do but try to do the same?

Same with his brother. He's always had an extraordinary hold on his teams, able to connect with just about everyone, and working extraordinarily hard every day.

His team, we think, win or lose, will return that Saturday.

We are a bit concerned about Rodney Hood, who ran off the court just prior to tipoff against Eastern Michigan. He finished that game 3-8 and against Elon was just 4-12.

Really, though, he hasn't shot well for awhile: Hood has only cleared .500 once since the Vermont game. Interesting but not that important: he's been really consistent about how many shots he's taking. Other than EMU, where he was sick, Hood's taken between 12-14 shots every time out.

A return to form would be really helpful.

The best thing about the holiday games though were that suddenly, Duke's depth is superb. Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson have dramatically upped their games. Andre Dawkins is playing his best basketball at Duke. And Marshall Plumlee is playing like a hybrid of, well, a Plumlee and Brian Zoubek. He's much more of a center than his brothers, but much more mobile than Zoubek ever was. He's also moved from playing like an overgrown puppy to, at times, playing like a junkyard dog.

Not that Notre Dame will roll over. It's a proud program in a tough spot.That team is coming after Duke in a big way.

Then again, Duke is coming hard, too. Could be a great one.

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