Just a bit of perspective since we’re sure a lot of Duke fans are kind of freaking out after the Wake loss.
This team is in third place in the ACC. Its record is 23-5 overall and 13-4 in conference.
And it’s starting 3-4 freshmen every night.
We’re so used to it now that we don’t even think about it anymore, but it’s not 1987 when Duke followed up an epic Final Four run by moving seasoned reserves into starting roles.
Duke’s final starting lineup that year was Tommy Amaker, Danny Ferry, Kevin Strickland and John Smith.
Robert Brickey, Quin Snyder and Alaa Abdelnaby all came off the bench. Later in their careers, all three were starters. Every player on that team stayed all four years.
We’re not complaining or making excuses. It is what it is and Duke has done as well as anyone in the one-and-done era.
Still, this team, like every Duke team for the last several years, relies on freshmen. We’ve made this point since, we think, 1999: teams that have an experienced core, no matter the discrepancy in talent, have an advantage that a team relying on first-year players simply cannot have.
It’s a major change in college basketball, still unfolding, and overall it’s good. Some of the so-called mid-majors have a much better shot at upsets than they would have 20 years ago. That’s healthy and much better than football where upsets like that are much more difficult today.
The other thing is that there’s nothing new about losing on the road in the ACC. It happens every year. It’s just a brutally competitive conference, even now when it seems down.
And the final thing is this: we’ve had more difficult stretches and seasons. This team is still growing. And as we’ve seen in the past, Duke is capable of figuring things out in a big hurry.
Whatever happens, our advice is to just enjoy the ride. There’s a lot more good than bad.