I already know what you’re thinking. What does he mean “the 3rd Duke basketball season?” The Duke basketball season started back in late October. It’s now the end of January.
The past three months of Duke basketball has taken fans on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
The season had high points of Duke winning big away games at Wisconsin and Louisville. Another high point was watching Coach K get his 1000th win on the big stage at Madison Square Garden. Krzyzewski even acknowledged that other than Cameron, MSG was the next best place to land that win.
Fans have also experienced some lows during the past three months. Semi Ojeleye transferred. Duke had back-to-back losses playing at NC State and Miami at home.
The Miami loss was a beatdown given to Duke in which Miami exposed the defense to win by a score of 90-74, snapping the 41-game home winning streak by Duke, which was the longest in the nation at the time.
This past week, Duke lost to Notre Dame and Rasheed Sulaimon was dismissed from the team.
It’s been quite the ride so far.
Coach K has been known for looking at a season and being able to break it down into chunks. The NCAA Tournament is one of them. Most people see the NCAA Tournament as a six-game survive-and-advance marathon.
Coach K has been known to break it down as two-game tournaments. Don’t look ahead, but survive the first weekend of two games and you will live to play the next weekend. Looking at this thought process, I look at today being the start of the third season for Duke basketball.
The first season started in October and lasted until the Miami loss. Duke was undefeated at 14-0 before the consecutive losses to NC State and Miami.
After the Miami loss, the second season began for the Blue Devils on the road at Louisville. Duke started to use the zone defense more and was able to pull off an epic win at Louisville.
It felt like a fresh start for Duke basketball. The Blue Devils went on to win the next home game with Pittsburgh and win at MSG against St. John’s for Coach K’s 1000th win.
The team then went on the road to play Notre Dame. At one point during the game, Duke led by 10 points and appeared to be in good position for another road win over a Top 10 opponent.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame chipped away at the score and pulled off the upset over Duke on their home court.
On Thursday afternoon, news broke that Rasheed Sulaimon had been dismissed from the team for not consistently living up to the standards required to be a member of the program.
It was a sad day for Duke fans as they expressed their feelings through message boards and social media. This past Thursday is when the second season came to an end.
The third season begins for Duke on the road, playing #2 ranked Virginia in Charlottesville.
The loss to Notre Dame and the dismissal of Sulaimon has most certainly been on the minds of coaches, players, and fans these past couple days.
One could look at this from a psychological point of view. Many humans struggle in life being stuck in two phases. One is living in the past and the other is living for the future. They struggle because they aren’t being in the now or living in the present moment.
You also see this in sports all the time. A player misses a few shots and hangs his head. His body language shows he’s down on himself. The player either continues to focus on the past missed shots or comes back to the present moment. You also see this happen when teams get upset by an unranked team because they were looking ahead on the schedule to a weekend matchup against a top ranked team. The team was living for the future and not playing in the present moment.
With what has happened the last couple of days, Duke basketball now faces a task of how they will respond to adversity.
Will the team get caught living in the past, still focused on the loss of Notre Dame and not having Rasheed Sulaimon? Will it get caught living in the future with a home rematch next week with Notre Dame and the series still to play with UNC in the near future?
Or will this talented Duke team embrace the present moment of playing on the road in Charlottesville against undefeated Virginia?
ESPN College Gameday has brought their road show to Charlottesville. The Duke vs Virginia game will be the second biggest sporting event this weekend, with of course the Super Bowl taking the top spot.
Here’s to hoping Duke is living in the present moment and comes into Charlottesville ready to battle and start the third season off with a win.