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What A Weekend, What A Season

As Duke claws back to the top of the ACC and looks around.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Championship Duke vs Virginia
Mar 11, 2023; Greensboro, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Jon Scheyer celebrates after the Blue Devils win the Championship of the ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. 
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a bit early to really take stock of this season - perspective comes when it’s over - but it’s hard not to admire what Duke has accomplished.

Duke had a lot to overcome: first incorporating seven freshmen and four transfers, then an injury to Dereck Lively that set him back, an injury to Dariq Whitehead that required foot surgery, an injury to Jeremy Roach that clearly slowed him and forced him to miss several games, another injury to Whitehead, Tyrese Proctor got to Durham late and kind of got thrown in willy-nilly and just as he was really beginning to contribute, Jaylen Blakes broke his nose and hasn’t really played much since.

And of course young Jon Scheyer was tapped to succeed Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach of all time, a man who won five national championships and 15 ACC championships and who is widely regarded as the G.O.A.T. of college basketball coaches.

Who has ever faced so many challenges in his first year?

One thing that this really underscores is that the meticulously planned transition from Mike Krzyzewski to Scheyer has worked about as well as it possibly could have. There have been a lot of criticisms, most of them stupid, including the people who thought that Coach K announced his retirement and Scheyer’s succession so that he could have a farewell tour.

He spent more than four decades building something and wanted to to make sure that it didn’t crash and burn when he retired.

It also gave Scheyer a long runway and while he had to essentially start over roster-wise, he had a team that was almost entirely his own.

Compare that to Hubert Davis, who like Scheyer was promoted from within. But Davis’s goal was to modernize the UNC system that Dean Smith and Roy Williams developed and that’s complicated. You can’t really judge Davis until he has his own players and his system in place.

For that matter, as delirious as Duke fans are right now, you can’t really judge Scheyer in one year (which is still not over) either.

He’s done a brilliant job and people should be happy. But like Davis, and any coach really, you can’t form a realistic judgement for a few years.

That said, Duke fans should be delirious. Duke has overcome a tremendous amount and the future looks bright. What a remarkable season this has been. What a job Scheyer has done.

And we should add this too. There has been a certain amount of grumbling, including at least one Twitter idiot who called for him to be fired midway into his first season, but for the most part, Duke fans have been highly supportive. It’s easy now of course, but it wasn’t so easy when Duke was struggling. Duke fans stuck with their coach though and have been incredibly supportive.

It’s exactly what we hoped for, honestly. We wanted the world to see that Duke was very different from UNC and Kentucky, among others. Well, so far so good.