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I’ve been reading a lot of articles in the past few days (since my beloved Blue Devils were embarrassed at Cameron by the Miami Hurricanes), and they all say basically the same things:
- Duke’s perimeter defense is terrible
- the shooting stroke that was there in the early season is gone
- the passion and intensity has visibly decreased since the Christmas break
- the team once considered a lock for the Final Four is now showing glimpses of the type of “bounced in the first few rounds of the NCAA Tournament” play we’ve seen in the past few seasons.
You know what…all those things may be correct. But as a true Duke fan, I always find a way to find any possible positive explanation.
With that being said, here are my Top Five Totally Improbable and Untrue (but Optimistic) Explanations for Duke’s Recent Struggles:
- Icing on the Cake. Coach K is a legend – a legitimate icon in the game of basketball – who is approaching a milestone that has never been reached: his 1000th win. What could make this milestone even more fulfilling? Reaching it in a win against your biggest rival, the UNC Tar Heels. Coach K obviously instructed his team to take their feet off the gas and lose a few games so he can set the record in a blowout victory on February 18th in Cameron.
- A Star Returning. Jahlil Okafor is a guaranteed Top 5 pick in the upcoming draft, with most draft boards having him in the #1 spot. There’s only one problem – he loves college and wants to come back next year. Since the appeal of being picked first in the draft is too much for any player to pass up, he has been intentionally missing shots (that he normally could make with his eyes closed) and allowing easy buckets around the rim to lower his draft stock and make his decision to stay at Duke next year less absurd.
- Out with a Bang. Quinn Cook is the lone senior on this year’s team and he has never won an ACC Regular Season Title, ACC Tournament Title, or been to a Final Four. He wants to leave his mark on the program, and this team definitely has the talent to compete for a championship. The only thing that would make a NCAA championship better would be to cement his legacy by making history. Quinn obviously did some research and found out the lowest seed to ever win the NCAA Tournament was Villanova in 1985 (8 seed), and he has convinced his teammates to tank a few games and hopefully get a #9 seed this year. Then, they’ll start clicking on all cylinders and win the tournament, with Quinn being named MVP.
- Homecoming. Semi Olejeye recently transferred. While he never reached his full potential on the court at Duke, he developed a strong bond with his teammates and became part of the Duke family. The team got together after the Christmas break and decided they should fight to get their brother back to Durham. They hatched a scheme where they would lose a few games and then each call and beg for Semi to reconsider his transfer. Semi will agree, and the NCAA will allow him to rescind his transfer and suit up for the Blue Devils again. Mission accomplished.
- Master Recruiter. Duke has already received commitments from some awesome players for next season, but is still actively recruiting a number of talented wings. As a part of his recruiting pitch, Coach K needs to be able to show players they are needed and can therefore play immediately if they don the Duke blue and white. With the eyes of the nation watching these past two games, he told his team to abandon their normal defensive prowess and start playing like last year’s team, with the hopes of enticing another package deal of fabulous freshmen to commit.
What do you think? Are any of these at all possible, or is our team just going through some growing pains? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below or reach me via Twitter at @bluedevilauth!