FanTake is a place for you the fan to get your opinion out. If you are interested in writing your own FanTake, just send us an email.
This may feel like a stretch to the few pessimistic Duke fans out there but these are the five reasons why you should feel optimistic that Duke will be headed for glory in the midst of March Madness.
Jabari Parker + Rodney Hood = Success:
This may seem like the most obvious one but the truth is that these two guys are both All-American caliber players and it’s only December! If these two stay away from the injury bug and continue to improve under the masterful Coach K they should be the best duo in College Basketball heading into the tourney, period.
Yes Duke has lost to Kansas and Arizona this season that doesn’t mean they didn’t take any gain out of these two matchups. Heading into the March, Duke will have played Kansas, Arizona, Michigan, UCLA, Syracuse twice, UNC twice, Notre Dame (on the road), Pitt (on the road) and some other tough road games as well. I do believe Duke will lose some of these games, but with a mostly young and hungry team losses can help tremendously because you LEARN from it. That is what the regular season is all about when you have a team like Duke, learn, learn, and learn some more. Then once you are on the big stage you have all this gained basketball knowledge and you know what to do when situations come about (Foul Trouble, Sloppy Starts, Coming From Behind, Dealing With Mismatches, etc.)
Now even though I just pointed out above that Duke is a mostly young team our few veterans (Cook, Thornton, Hairston, Dawkins) will pull us through some sticky situations in early round games. The experience of these four guys is pretty good. Dawkins was on the 2010 Championship team so he knows what it takes to achieve that goal. Thornton and Hairston were around when Kyrie got injured and they had to adjust to a different style of play. All four of these guys were here when Duke was upset by the team whose name I will not spell out, they have essentially been through it all. They should be able to handle things if Duke is riding on a roller coaster when March gets here.
This year’s team may be one of the deepest and talented benches Coach K has ever had during his career with the Blue Devils. This will be a huge advantage for Duke. Matt Jones is a good early season example, wasn’t expected to get too many minutes. Now he has proved himself as the best backcourt defender on the team behind the scrappy Tyler Thornton and showed a glimpse off that needed energy and offense off the bench in the game vs Alabama when the Blue Devils couldn’t get anything to drop in the basket. Along with Matt you have guys like Rasheed, and Andre who can give you a spark when things may be falling in the other teams direction. The Devils also have a nice little committee coming into form in the frontcourt. You have the veteran smarts of Josh, you get rebounding and ability to challenge shots at the rim with Marshall, and Amile who just finds a way to get the team fired up every time he steps on the court along with being able to take advantage of slower forwards and centers by blowing by them and finishing at the rim.
This is probably the main reason I’m extremely confident Duke could go all the way this season. When you have this much talent under possibly the best teacher this sport has ever seen it makes for good situations. Coach K will have this team ready for a deep run in March. Guys will be completely bought into whatever Coach K says by now (if they haven’t already), and quite frankly if our guys perform what K believes can lead Duke to number five then there should be no doubt that they can’t accomplish what is on the road ahead. Whatever disadvantages Duke may seem to have according to the experts and analyst in March can be overcome by the pure talent this team possesses along with the GOAT himself sitting on the bench guiding them throughout everything.
You can follow Zachary on Twitter at @Z_Lyon741.