Its seems like every year I urge my fellow Duke fans to not get too excited about the upcoming basketball season but to very little avail: This year will be no different and perhaps even worse.
Duke is talented, don’t get me wrong. They may in fact have the most talent of any Duke team for quite some time, but they haven’t played a single game yet and some fans of the Blue Devils are already thinking Final Four and National Championships. This is a team capable enough of reaching those heights but I find it best not to start in with expectations.
The last time I was expecting a National Title was 1999 and if you’ve followed Duke for any period of time you now how that ended up. A team led by Elton Brand, that featured Shane Battier, and eventual National Champion, Trajan Langdon, William Avery couldn’t cut down the nets. Some have even gone as far to consider that the best Duke team talent wise ever.
Then in 2011, the heart of the 2010 title team was back with the addition of super freshman Kyrie Irving. Eight games into the season it looked as if that Duke team was unbeatable. Then Irving got hurt. The team had to re-invent itself and did so but couldn’t cut down the nets even when Irving returned for the last two games of the season.
Fast forward to this year’s squad that features one of the most heralded freshman in sometime, Jabari Parker. Parker is a kid that Sports Illustrated put on its cover and called the best high school player since Lebron James. He hasn’t played a single game yet but Duke fans are banking on the combination of he and transfer Rodney Hood will propel Duke back into the Final Four.
These are two very impressive young men, but again they haven’t played a game yet for the Blue Devils. Throwing such lofty expectations on them, even if they have those expectations for themselves, seems a bit much to me.
National Championships are hard things to predict and it seems a bit pretentious to try to predict them this early before you know who is actually as good as they claim or how things like injuries play out. So why John Calipari and his fellow Kentucky follower…err…fans are boasting about a possible undefeated season, anyone who knows anything about sports knows that such bold predictions are usually never right.
And while no Duke fan I’ve spoken with has suggested that this Duke team could go undefeated, many are talking about how great this team is and they haven’t actually proven that yet.
For me the proof is in the pudding. There are a lot of very good players, but greatness is not a term that is given, it is earned and so far this team has earned nothing, won nothing. Do I want them to win, hell yes, do I want nets cut down? You bet your fannies I do, but am I foolish enough to expect anything from this team yet? Nope, I’ve watched too many games, experienced too many disappointments and seen too many prognostications be wrong.
So, while I am fine with fans being optimistic about this year’s team, there is reason to be, just be cautious you don’t get too optimistic and border on cocky, cause that almost always blows up in your face in the end.