I have officially adopted a new credo in honor of and resulting from the performance of this year’s Duke team: Never expect but always believe. There’s a fine line between between hope and expectation, and if there’s anything the 6 year year hiatus away from the Final Four has taught me, it’s that the former is a much more pleasant and ultimately stable emotional position from which to view things. I knew that it was possible for this team to reach the Final Four based on a number of factors, but having fallen victim to my expectations in the recent past, I also had to acknowledge the stark reality of the difficulty of attaining that goal in the NCAA tournament. As a result, I have completely locked my settings in Survive-and-Advance Mode, appreciating each game for the game that it is, and each success as a progressively magnificent accomplishment in what has been one of the greatest Duke seasons of all time for one of the tightest knit Duke teams of all time.
That being said, Saturday night’s effort against the Mountaineers was arguably Duke’s strongest game of the year against arguably our best opponent and on the biggest stage. West Virginia simply had no answer for anything Duke did on either end of the court. I have speculated of late, that, in order to beat any of the truly elite teams in the tournament, we would need that most elusive of events to occur; having not one, not two, but all three of the big three beast-out in a synchronous manner. And lo, it came to pass in the city of Hoosiers, that the three S’s did rage, and we saw that their raging was good, and nothing was in it that was not good. ( I Devils 20: 4) Everyone else played their role to a ‘T’. Zoubek Zoubeked and wreaked havoc on the boards, Lance Lanced and spazzed out in a highly disruptive manner, and the Plumlees Plumleed and spelled the bigs in a most contributory fashion. The only “negative” about the game was Nolan’s early foul trouble which came as the result of (strangely) being unable to stay in front of Joe Mazzulla and the unfortunate late game injury to Da’Sean Butler’s knee (and the ensuing classless gesture by Bob ” Huggy Bear” Huggins, where he took the moment to berate the official rather than immediately attend to his writhing player. The man is a track-suit-wearing sleaze; the mob enforcer to Calipari’s used car salesman.)
It’s been an unmitigated pleasure to be here in Indy to witness first-hand the culmination of all of the hard work this team has put in and, more importantly, all of the learning and growth that has occurred over the course of this season. These guys are all in all the time and really want to win for each other more than they want to win for themselves. Come win or loss tomorrow, I can definitively say I’ve never been more proud of any Duke team.