In the midst of a November to remember I’m urging Duke Basketball fans to take a deep breath and use just a modicum of caution when it comes to assuming that the Blue Devils are the best team in the land.
As a Duke fan, it is easy to get wrapped up in the Blue Devils 7-0 start, but this isn’t their first rodeo or the first time its fans have seen the Blue Devil start the year out fast. It is one of the more impressive schedules that any team has had to navigate through and they came out unscathed after beating the No. 3, No. 2 and No. 4 teams in the span of 16 days.
But Blue Devil fans need to perhaps chill just a bit, act like Duke’s been here before, because they have. Last season they had a strong start to the year and we all saw how that ended. This isn’t meant to be a cold shower, but it a way it really is.
Duke is good, perhaps very good, but it is just way too early and there are still a few too many unanswered questions to pencil this team into the Final Four. That said there has been a lot of positives.
Mason Plumlee has become a star and Quinn Cook has stepped up to be the effective point guard Duke has been needing and didn’t have last year. Rasheed Sulaimon has been a solid defender and is scoring in double figures and Seth Curry, has fought through injury to be a solid contributor in his worst games and a top offensive threat when he is at his best.
And then there is Ryan Kelly, who has simply picked up where he left off plus he has improved his ability to defend and rebound in addition to his smart play and ability to hit a jump shot.
Still Duke has some concerns. They are getting practically nothing in terms of points or any desirable statistics from their bench and most of the Duke starters have played a lion’s share of the minutes in all of the tight games with the exception of Tyler Thornton. The Blue Devils came out miserably flat in a few games and doing so against Ohio State nearly got them blown out.
They have, however, shown a lot of guts, played with a lot of passion and regardless of what I say or anyone else says, this is a Blue Devil team that has earned its No. 2 ranking. They are clearly better than they were last year but that doesn’t guarantee anything.
Still you have to be realistic and expect that this team can’t possibly keep it up. Now that doesn’t mean that they won’t have success down the road, but they will lose at some point.
The days of teams going unbeaten are over. If the 1991 UNLV team didn’t go unbeaten, this Duke team isn’t going unbeaten. It will happen just a matter of when and to whom.
Many of Duke’s detractors will use their past early season successes coupled with their past post season flops to try and convince themselves and others that we shouldn’t take this team seriously. You shouldn’t make that mistake either; this is a team that is a contender but it isn’t one that is infallible. It also is not a team that is done getting better or growing, the potential for growth is certainly there.
For that reason you have to like Duke’s chances come March, but the early season success doesn’t always guaranteed late season success. So for now it is okay to rejoice that the Blue Devils are 7-0, No. 2 in the country and looking like one of the teams that is most capable of competing for championships, but don’t let that pull you too far away from reality because come March, reality can come much sooner than you think or want.
Don’t believe me? Just ask the 2011-2012 Duke team if I’m not right. Just enjoy the early success, but keep some perspective because it is a long season.
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