We couldn't begin to tell you why, but we had a bad feeling about playing Maryland in Greensboro. Obviously it was justified as Maryland won. But they may have helped Duke as well as themselves.
|Links for this story are here|
As you know, being intensely competitive is something that Coach K has transferred into Duke's DNA and it's why Duke (usually) fights so hard.
This year, though, three games in three days may not be the best thing. For one, we weren't sure Seth Curry could hold up to three straight days of it. And for another, while it may have benefited Ryan Kelly, who is not 100%, it might not have been easy to keep the reconstructed train on the tracks.
Reaching? Maybe overall, but not in the case of Curry. The guy can barely practice; it's hard to see how he can go all out for three straight days.
As it is now, it's back to Durham, back to calculated workouts and film sessions, back to scout three teams per weekend for as long as the season lasts.
As Maryland moves closer to departure - they'll be gone after next season - the less we play them the better. It's not that we mind playing Maryland; we truly don't. When you look at them, the players, generally, are admirable. They play hard and they honor the game. And the games are usually taut and exciting.
What we won't miss are the idiot fans. It would've been nice if Wake could have sent them home early so the rest of the conference didn't have to put up with their crudeness. The good thing is that in the Tournament, no matter where it is played, there are only so many of them and many more of the rest of us. Bottle throwing, heated pennies, opposing fans hiding beneath their seats, riots - that's all out.
Well not the riots. But if they like to live in their own filth, that's their problem.
When we look back and think of the great teams and players over the years, certainly we'll miss that: Albert King, playing like a vengeful wraith; Buck Williams outdueling Ralph Sampson simply because his heart was bigger; John Lucas, so brilliant, so confident, such an Icarus figure; Len Bias, whose talent was to propel the Celtics a decade into the future before he died by his own actions; Walt Williams strapping his team on his back; Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Grievis Vasquez.
We didn't even mention Len Elmore, Tom McMillen, Brad Davis, Mo Howard, Greg Manning or the glorious failure that was Brian Magid.
We'll miss all that. But the fans? Not even slightly. Most Duke fans, we expect, would assume that seeing them as rivals would also put us the same bolgia, watching the vermin fight it out.Â Next time let them burn their whole campus down and then both conferences can be rid of them.
For Duke now, it's 5-6 days of calculated rest and effort and continued re-integration of Kelly. It's film sessions and analysis of whoever the opponent is (as Mason Plumlee noted, seeding is irrelevant as they learned last year).
It's also time for something Duke is usually pretty good at: drawing lessons from failure.
Krzyzewski said years ago that failure was a tremendous opportunity to learn. You'll know if the lessons have been applied the next time you see the Blue Devils take the court.