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Jon Scheyer’s Next Big Challenge Is Following An Outstanding First Year

Dealing with expectations is a must for coaches at elite programs. Let’s see how Scheyer does this in Year II.

Duke v Tennessee
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 18: Head coach Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils looks on against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first half in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 18, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you may have seen our theory that Duke and UNC are somehow mysteriously entwined. Things that happen over there tend to happen over here, and not all of it good although, thankfully, UNC’s academic scandal was not repeated in Durham.

Duke won national championships in 1991 and 1992; UNC got it in 1993. Duke won in 2015; UNC made the title game in 2016 and won it in 2017.

We should have mentioned that both teams made the Final Four in 1991 and 2022 and we could have mentioned that both teams played Michigan in the finals in 1992 and 1993. We could have mentioned that both teams lost in Raleigh in their first NCAA games in 1979 too for that matter, a dark day that’s known locally as Black Friday.

There are constant coincidences and the programs tend to mirror each other broadly.

In the latest parallel, UNC had a sensational first year under Hubert Davis - well, actually, the Heels started slow and finished brilliantly. And in Durham last year, Jon Scheyer’s Devils started slowly before registering a brilliant final kick. Duke didn’t make the Final Four but all in all, it was a highly impressive year. UNC got the Final Four bragging rights but that team started quite slow. Wire to wire, Duke arguably had a better first year under its rookie coach.

And now of course, we await Scheyer’s second season to see how he follows his highly impressive first season.

As Brett Friedlander points out here, Duke is fully aware of the challenges ahead and while no one in dark blue likes to talk about UNC much, they’re certainly aware that last season was a major dud for the Heels.

Having watched Mike Krzyzewski for many years, we have a pretty good idea of how he would have approached this situation and we’re sure Scheyer’s approach will be somewhat similar. But exactly how he manages expectations is going to play a major role in how his second team performs.