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The Duke-Arizona Series Is Going To Be Interesting - And Different

Without Coach K and Lute Olson, the rivalry will not be the same. And that’s okay.

TCU v Arizona
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 20: Head coach Tommy Lloyd of the Arizona Wildcats reacts during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena at San Diego State University on March 20, 2022 in San Diego, California.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The news that Duke and Arizona had set up a home-and-home series is great for college basketball. The schools have had some tremendous matchups over the years, with the biggest one obviously being Duke’s 2001 national championship win over the Wildcats.

The other high point was Arizona’s double-overtime win in 1991.

Duke fans are intimately familiar with Mike Krzyzewski, who stepped down after this year’s Final Four but Lute Olson was also a phenomenal coach and his teams played beautiful basketball.

When the teams meet in 2023 of course, Tommy Lloyd will be coaching Arizona and Jon Scheyer will be coaching Duke.

We have an idea of Lloyd, who had a phenomenal first year at Arizona, finishing 33-4.

We’re not sure, but he may be the only coach to win 30 games in his rookie season. Keep in mind that he was not a popular choice: Olson’s former players really wanted to “keep it in the family,” but presumably everyone is happy with him now.

Scheyer, obviously, is a family hire. He played for Coach K and coached under him as well and as much as Duke partisans like him, the jury will be out until the results are in.

There is a lot of respect between these programs and some great history. But the games aren’t likely to be quite the same.

Krzyzewski’s great strength was as a communicator and a guy who got his teams to fight. Olson’s was that he had elegant offenses and adaptable defenses. When he had Kenny Lofton, who went on to a brilliant MBL career, he did something that, to us, was just amazing.

He ran a 2-2-1 and had Lofton run baseline to baseline at the bottom. And he cut off any penetration. It was a brilliant use of personnel.

Lloyd of course is a master recruiter internationally and his style resembles that of Gonzaga’s Mark Few, where he worked for 20 years. It’s fun to watch.

And Scheyer?

He has said he wants to recruit versatile players who shoot and pass well. That’s only a starting point but it’s an insight into where he may be going.

In other words, the teams may have fairly similar styles. So the games in Cameron and McKale Center should be really, really fun and also revealing.