Over at CBSSports.com, the writers have their predictions up about how Duke will do in Coach K’s final season.
It’s hard to say but certainly it won’t be anything like last season and curiously, while the panel gets some things right about last season and the upcoming one, they miss one really important thing completely. We’ll get to that in a few.
Overall, everyone acknowledges that this year’s freshmen are going to be very, very good and that Duke should be vastly better. We’re telling you guys now that Paolo Banchero is going to really impress people. He’s the real deal. But the guy who may surprise people more is AJ Griffin. Both of those guys are immensely athletic, bouncy players who appear to have a deep understanding of the game. And Trevor Keels, by all accounts, is a terrific guard.
That’s going to make a big difference, but that’s the one we’re talking about.
So what is it?
It’s pretty simple really.
We’ve talked before about how Duke is always at an advantage in the early season because the program is so disciplined and organized. And one of the ways Duke has done so well during the one-and-done era is that same level of organization.
We don’t remember when this started, but quite some time ago, Duke started to get the freshmen in for summer school which allowed them a much longer time to get them up to speed.
Obviously you’re not allowed to practice all summer, but you are allowed to work with players, you can get them in the weight room, you can start to focus on the benefits of, for lack of a better phrase, prescription nutrition and your older players can spent time with them and teach them the many aspects of Duke Basketball.
Last year’s team had some great pieces, but it never had that. If Duke could have done what it usually does over the summer, Jeremy Roach would have been much further along in November than he was, for one thing, and the other freshmen, including Henry Coleman and Jaemyn Brakefield, who both opted to transfer after the season, might have been further along and might have made different choices. Who knows? Where would Mark Williams have been?
We’d bet that if Duke could have prepared as it usually does, and no games had been canceled due to Covid, Duke would have won at least 25 games in the regular season and would have come close to 30 when all was said and done.
This year’s team should have all those benefits along with a serious influx of talent. Draw your own conclusions.