When we sat down to write this, our thoughts drifted back to the magic of the
State game, and in the language of old, Here Be Dragons.Â The temptation to
look back is nearly irresistible, but the fact is that this weekend, Duke faces
a surly and bewildered Wake Forest, a team which surely thought the positions of
the two would be reversed and Wake would be at or near the top.Â
This is a proud program run by a proud man, and while
they have been inÂ a skid lately, they will either fade again, which seems unlikely, or do what most teams are doing and give Duke their best shot.
Think about it. Maryland shot poorly but played hard. Virginia and State took
Duke to overtime. Florida State led at the half- not an insignificant
accomplishment.Â And Tech was competitive for part of their game as well.
Duke is getting everyone's best shot. Part of that is due to last season, when
Duke laid whippings around the conference with stunning regularity and
ease.Â This year's team isn't doing that, but what it is doing has a
distinct charm, and we like it more in a lot of ways. Steamrollers and tanks are
fun because people get the crap scared out of them and they tell the other
people to give up and everyone except Cincinnati and UConn did.Â But more
fun than steamrollers are fast cars on tight mountain roads. That's the race
this year's team is running, and the driver is handling the machine superbly,
perhaps as well as he ever has.
We'll get to see Jason Williams continue to introduce himself to ACC points,
this time to Robert O' Kelley.Â We'll get to see Boozer go up against the
guy Dave Odom says is the best defensive center in the conference.Â We'll
get to see Mike Dunleavy, the Swiss Army Knife,Â continue to demonstrate an
uncanny grasp of the game. We'll get to see the three upperclassmen continue to
assert their pride and character.
Does this equal a win? We hope so.Â But none of them have been easy so
far, and we don't expect this one to be either.Â What a lot of people don't
get is that even if this is a down year for the ACC, this is still the ACC.
There is pride involved. There is tradition.Â There is the knowledge of
greatness past and hopes of future glory.Â Even in what may be a down year,
the ACC has the purest rivalries of any major conference. This one goes back to
the turn of the century. Our best regards to our old rivals and friends
from Wake Forest.Â We expect them to fight like hell and hope Duke isn't
still hung over from the greatness of midweek.