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The Aftermath Of The Filipowski Punch

Duke took a body shot at Virginia Tech, but it will payoff in the long run.

Duke v Virginia Tech
BLACKSBURG, VA - JANUARY 23: Center Kyle Filipowski #30 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs his neck in the second half during a game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum on January 23, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Photo by Ryan Hunt/Getty Images

As you probably know, near the end of Monday night’s Duke-Virginia Tech game Hokie MJ Collins hit a key shot and turned around and punched Duke’s Kyle Filipowski in the throat.

The refs ruled it incidental/accidental because he was celebrating. That part seems clear, but it had consequences and will be talked about for a long time.

For Filipowski, the consequences were immediate. Getting hit in the throat, as it turns out, has consequences. For the game, it was critical.

For Filipowski, it staggered him and made him throw up in the huddle.

Then he went back out and finished the game.

It left an impression on Jon Scheyer, who said this about his young star: “He was full-on throwing up and he wasn’t about to be out for a second. He’s a big-time warrior, man.”

The whole situation instantly reminded us of something. Remember when VCU upset Duke in 2007? The enduring image was a bleeding Jon Scheyer. It kind of symbolized young Duke being taught a painful lesson by the Rams who, well, rammed his head.

The following year, West Virginia manhandled Duke in the NCAA tournament, 73-67. And it wasn’t that close. The Mountaineers bullied the Blue Devils.

Two years later, Duke, no longer young and inexperienced, returned the favor, 78-57. That team went on to win the NCAA tournament.

We’re not saying that will happen now, but it’s worth looking back for a number of reasons.

First, the beating heart of that 2010 team was Scheyer, who had moved to point guard and was ridiculously competent. We used to watch him closely, looking for mistakes that were fan-level obvious. We’re sure Mike Krzyzewski saw plenty, but those were on a different level and still relatively minor.

And second, the differences between 2007 and 2010 were profound. The team had grown up.

This season, the team is young in more ways than one. Scheyer, who was a teenager in 2007 and still not of legal drinking age in 2010, is building his first program. He’s doing it with seven freshmen, one junior and two key transfers.

This team - this program - is going to get punched in the throat a few times until it learns to punch back harder.

That time will come, just as it did during Scheyer’s playing days. Games like Monday are inevitable as it grows.

Good things are coming.