After their early exit in the NCAA tournament yesterday I wanted to wish Duke a happy St. Patrick’s Day. The boys blue now have the day off to enjoy all the festivities this day has to offer, the parades, green beer, corned beef, and Irish Car Bombs. In fact it has been a rough year for the Dookies, they need to have today off.
There is an old Irish myth that says St. Patrick drove all the snakes off of the island of Ireland (say that ten times fast). Now the myth says the he banished them from the island and that they have never returned. Historians however believe that it was a figurative sense meaning that the snakes representing of evil was what St. Patrick drove away from Ireland. He ushered in a new age for the Irish Catholics. I thought this story seemed fitting seeing as how Lehigh banished the evil from this year’s NCAA tournament.
Now enough with the history lesson let’s focus on the team at hand. Duke has had a rough year: they finished second in the regular season conference play to their big brother down the road in Chapel Hill, exited the ACC tournament in which they like to call the “Duke Invitational” after beating Virginia Tech by four, getting bounced by Florida State, loss to Carolina at Cameron by a wide margin of eighteen, and now this loss to Lehigh yesterday. In fact I would say that the crowning moment of this season was their win over Michigan St. when Coach K passed his mentor Bobby Knight’s record for most Division I wins, way back in November. One could say the one point win over Carolina in February or the come from behind win against NC State was their marquee game this year, but none of that means a whole lot right now, does it? The fact of the matter is that Duke over achieved all season and fell apart down the stretch losing three of their last four games.
In fact looking back Duke hasn’t had all that great of success in the past decade in the NCAA tournament. Sure they won the championship in 2010 but other than that they only have one other final four appearance in the past eleven years. They haven’t made it past the sweet sixteen other than those two years in the past eleven years to go along with a second round exit and two first round good-byes. In the age where we measure teams by the NCAA barometer this is not a good look for Duke. Seems like a small succession rate for a team that deems themselves as elite.
Lehigh simply outplayed Duke yesterday, CJ McCollum had 30 points, the Blue Devils really had no answer for him on defense. Other than Mason Plumlee going 9-9 from the field they couldn’t get much else going on the offensive side of the ball either. The Blue Devils were 6 of 26 from beyond the arch and the Mountain Hawks outscored them 19 to 4 in transition. Now Duke fans will try to call foul and point out that they had 26 penalties called against them or say that not having Ryan Kelly on the court was the determining factor, but don’t believe it. Lehigh was by far the better team yesterday; Duke did not beat themselves they simply got beat.
So when you are out and about today reveling in Irish tradition and you see a Duke fan out give them a hug they need it. Don’t remind them of the loss to Lehigh, or their loss to Florida State in the ACC tournament, or the fact that Carolina owned them on their own court, or the fact that NC State made it further than they did. Remember Lehigh being like St. Patrick and banishing the evil from the tournament. When you see the Duke fans simply smile tell them top of the morning, toast them a Guinness and remember no matter what team you cheer for there are still 32 teams better than them.
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