Saturday, March 22, 2008

The end of Duke's season

I can't say the West Virginia game was that surprising.  Duke was barely favored and half of's Sportsnation pool expected Duke to lose.  That being said it is still disappointing.   Duke never got in a rhythm and once they got behind they never really stood a chance.   I would have liked to see a game that didn't closely resemble football (Does Bob Huggins teach grabbing and bumping during his defense drills?), but honestly I don't think it would have mattered.  I think West Virginia played well, hit more shots, and for some reason has been a better tournament team lately.

The loss this late in the season really helped make clear the differences from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.   In the early part of the season Duke beat Wisconsin (in the Sweet Sixteen) handily, beat Marquette (a shot away from the Sweet Sixteen), beat Davidson (alive in the 2nd round), and god's gift to college basketball the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The Duke team from November through February would have beat the Duke team of the past 30 days by at least 25 .   

If Duke would have been lucky enough to win this game they almost certainly would have lost to Xavier.   That is besides the point though as Duke isn't a program that celebrates Sweet Sixteen appearances.   I didn't see any Sweet Sixteen banners when I went to Cameron.  The goal every year at Duke is to win the ACC championship, make it to the Final Four and win the national championship.   This Duke team had a good chance at the first, a slim but possible chance at the second, and a next to nothing chance at the third.   

In the end this year's team was a team that provided a building block for next year.   In a previous post I had compared this year's team to the 200o Duke team.  That team finished the year 29-5 compared to this year's team record of  28-6.   That team lost in the Sweet Sixteen, while this year's team lost in the 2nd round.   I am hoping that next year's team is able to duplicate what the 2001 team accomplished.   All the team needs is a post player (has to be a transfer or a recruit) and a stud slasher/scored (could be Gerald Henderson) in order to be at a national championship level. Scheyer, Paulus, King, Singler etc. would all be great complimentary players, but none of them have the athleticism or skill to take over a game in a way that Elton Brand, Grant Hill, or Shane Battier used to do and Gerald Henderson could possibly do.   As fans of most teams think at the end of the season there is always optimism and hope because there is always next year.

Woo Pig Sooie.   

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