Anybody who knows anything about music heard about Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys passing away on Friday after a battle with cancer. As far as I know there was never a connection to MCA, the Beastie Boys and Duke Basketball, but for me there will always be a tenuous connection.
While in middle school the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head album came out and I listened to one song religiously. It was, So What’cha Want. At the time I was on the school’s basketball team and I remember listening to that song prior to basketball practice and on the way to games.
It was infectious and it was an infusion of hip hop into my typical grunge or college rock listening fare. It was about that time when I was becoming fully ingrained for life as a Duke Basketball fan. I wanted to play for Mike Krzyzewski and be a Blue Devil. The only problem was I had no real talent to speak of and the top college program in the country was not beating down the door of a 5-foot-8 (at the time) power forward.
But I still had my basketball dreams, or delusions depending on your perspective. Duke had just won its first national title in 1991 and followed it up with a second in 1992. When the album came out in 1992 the Blue Devils had become the first repeat champions since UCLA had done it in the 1970s.
Duke Basketball and to an extent that one song, became a symbol of my middle school years. A sort of sports/musical bookmark in my memory. When I hear that song I think of that time in my life.
With the news of MCA’s passing, I again think back to all my favorite Beastie Boys songs and they are timestamped in my head. So’What’cha Want takes me back to 1992 and I almost automatically think to that Duke Basketball team and how good they were.
Fast forward 20 years and the Duke program is in a way, at a cross roads. They are only two years removed from its last national title, yet a rough offseason has forced many to wonder where the program is heading and in the short term there are a lot of question marks about next season.
So as a kind of tribute to one of my favorite Beastie Boys songs and a reminder of the golden era of Duke Basketball, I asked myself the question What’cha Want out of this team in 2012-2013?
Well for starters, if you don’t say you want them to compete for a national title then you aren’t trying hard enough. Obviously that might not be that realistic but it is what I want. A more realistic goal would be for them to achieve more than what many, including some Duke fans see as possible.
Most have Duke picked in the middle of the Top 25 and some don’t think they’ll be in it at all.
The Blue Devils have missed out on all but one of their key targets for the class of 2012, and with only one (Amile Jefferson) remaining the odds are good they might miss out on that one too. Still they have talent.
For starters I want Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton to grow into a solid point guard tandem and I’d like to see Cook make the team his own. He has shown flashes of the kind of game changing talent he can be when healthy and add Thornton’s leadership and you have two solid floor leaders.
Seth Curry needs to become a super star. I want to see him channel some of his older brother’s swag and play with confidence and become a dominant scorer. I want to see Rasheed Sulaimon be the impact player I believe he can and will have to be for Duke to become a Top 10 team next year.
I would also like to see Andre Dawkins playing, but more importantly I want to see him become stronger even if he doesn’t suit up in 2012-2013.
Alex Murphy needs to be the type of player that Krzyzewski has hinted that he can be and that all Duke fans are hoping he will be, especially seeing how thing the Blue Devils will be on the wing. I want to see Mason Plumlee become a dominant low post player and not have long periods where he is invisible.
I would really like to see Ryan Kelly become dominant and continue to be that match up problem that gives Duke a decided advantage against their opponents. I want Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee to be serviceable backups and be able to give the team effective minutes.
And it would be very nice to see Duke get back to playing Duke defense, something they didn’t do much of last season. I want all of this and much more because my expectations of being a Duke fan are always sky high, even if the facts to the contrary are staring me in the face.
So, What’cha want from Duke in 2012-2013?