It has been a while since there has been this much hype heading into a Duke Basketball season, okay, maybe not that long but there hasn’t been this much hype about a new group of players since perhaps 1999.
The arrival of super hyped freshman Jabari Parker as well as the eligibility of super transfer Rodney Hood has Blue Devil fans everywhere salivating. Only problem is that teams being great on paper doesn’t always translate to teams being great in real life. This year’s Duke team certainly looks great on paper but they still have some work to do before they are great in real life.
After dismantling a clearly over-matched Bowie State in their first exhibition Duke struggled and even trailed against defending Division II National Champions Drury before finally taking a lead and pulling away with just over 10 minutes remaining to secure a 16-point win. The game exposed a few areas that could be weaknesses especially out of the gate.
Defensively, this isn’t your dad’s Duke team, at least not yet. They have the athleticism to be able to apply pressure but they don’t necessarily have the experience and or the size in the post to be as good as some of Mike Krzyzewski’s best teams. That isn’t to say they can’t and won’t get better, but they struggled to close on shooters against a much smaller team in Drury and how they will do against a team with size and a serious post presence remains to be seen.
Rebounding as a result could be a problem, though Amile Jefferson showed some serious skill in that department pulling down 16 boards. But again Drury’s tallest player was only about 6-foot-6.
The expectations are sky high for Duke and with that can coming crushing disappointment if the team fails to meet the very high expectations that fans have set for them the disappointment will be palpable.
From experience it is wise to avoid such expectations see Duke 1999 or Duke 2011 for examples why.
Now I’m not saying that this Duke team can’t win championships but not having played a game and with a few question marks that need to answered before I’m willing to crown them anything more than a really good team with a lot of potential. Will they realize that potential, only time will tell but when the Blue Devils tip off against Davidson Friday night we will all have a better idea of how much his team has to go.
The difficulty in the schedule only get exponentially harder as Duke will take on Kansas and its super freshman Andrew Wiggins in just the second game and flaws could really be exposed against a top tier team.
For now the best thing for the team to do is ignore all the exterior expectations and work on the internal ones that you know Krzyzewski has set for the team. And if that includes a national title you can believe the team has already heard it from him and that is all that matters.
Senior Josh Hairston was named a captain of the team joining sophomore Rodney Hood and senior Tyler Thornton. Duke tips off the season Friday night at 7 p.m. a Cameron Indoor Stadium.