Now it’s crunch time when we flush out the true die hard Duke basketball fans.
Some may look at the three ACC losses in a row and come down on the Blue Devils hard, or even count them out. Hey, even if, God forbid, they do not make March Madness we should still cut them and Coach K some slack.
Coach has switched philosophies regarding one-and-dones and it worked for him last year. It may not work this year.
However, part of the reason for the present situation has to relate to the loss of Amile Jefferson, and no one even seems to know if he’ll come back and rejoin the team later.
I like to compare Marshall Plumlee and Jefferson somewhat to Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek of the 2009-10 team. In their senior seasons, Thomas averaged 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds; Zoubek averaged 5.6 points and 7.7 rebounds.
So far, I believe Plumlee is averaging 8.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. Before the injury, I believe Jefferson was averaging 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds. Both pairs are not stars but role players, primarily expected to yank down rebounds, clog up the lane, limit opposing bigs, and keep teams honest by scoring a few short jumpers, dunks, and such.
There is no question the team sorely misses Jefferson, not only for his play but also for his smart and stabilizing influence as a senior captain. Especially in these close losses, it would be expected that Jefferson’s presence might definitely have changed the outcome.
Note that in no way am I implying that Jefferson’s presence would possibly take this team to a championship as in 2010. Matt Jones and the talented freshmen seem a far cry from 2010 upperclassmen like Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Jon Scheyer.
In any case, let’s give this team our full support. I agree with what Coach K reiterated in the post-Syracuse loss–that these kids are playing their hearts out right now.
Who knows? There might be some amazing wins before this season is over and done… and some important lessons to learn.
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