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DUKE UPDATE: DECEMBER 16th

 

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DEVILS FEELING BETTER

by Austin Maloney

 

Its been less than a month since Duke kicked off its 2003-2004 basketball campaign, but Mike Krzyzewski’s squad has already gone through a season’s worth of emotions. The Blue Devils looked very shaky in their season opener at home against a scrappy Detroit team that led the game for 30 minutes. Coach K and his team vowed that this was just a good team combined with opening night jitters. Apparently the jitters made the six hour flight to Alaska as well. The Devils made it to the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout, overcoming their sloppy play to beat two lesser opponents. The Blue Devils weak efforts finally caught up to them in the finals when they were upended by unranked Purdue. Since then the Blue Devils have looked like the team they were supposed to be this year, as they have romped to wins over #6 Michigan State, St. Johns, and Portland. Post-Alaska the Blue Devils have been sensational shooting 55% from the field and finally finding more scoring sources than just freshman sensation Luol Deng. But what lies ahead for this talented bunch?

 

On December 17 the Blue Devils will play host to the Princeton Tigers in what should be a good warm-up for ACC rival NC State as they try to defend the Princeton offense. The Blue Devils have struggled in the past against this offense when playing NC State.

 

Duke will then head to New York for the Dreyfus Classic, where they will square-off against the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns even without TJ Ford are one of the most talented teams in the country. Mike Krzyzewski loves bringing his kids to Madison Square Garden and this will be another opportunity for Duke to play an NCAA tournament style game on a neutral floor.

 

After a nine day layoff for the holidays Duke returns home to play their annual game against instate rival Davidson. Bob McKillop’s Wildcat’s always give Duke a tough game and never fail to come out with intensity. The Duke coaching staff knows how dangerous a team like Davidson can be coming off a long break so look for Duke to come out with intensity even if they aren’t as sharp as usual.

 

After this game Duke heads in to ACC play, opening on January 3rd against Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum. As usual every ACC game will be a test for the Blue Devils. Some highlights include:

 

February 5th- Coach K meets Roy Williams for the first time since his Kansas Jayhawks dismissed Duke from the Sweet 16 last March. Except this time Roy will be coaching the baby blue of UNC. Look for one of the most intense games in recent history in this cutthroat rivalry. Duke fans feel that they had one stolen from them last year when Dahntay Jones buzzer-beater didn’t count. UNC fans are filled with hope for a winning year under Williams.

 

February 15- Duke returns to the RBC Center, site of last years loss to NC State. The Blue Devils won’t be caught off guard this year and will be ready for the Wolfpack’s Princeton offense and their emotion.

February 29- The Blue Devils will have to block out the past two years as the return to the Leon County Civic Center, where some of the weirdest games of the past two seasons have occurred. Duke has lost two in a row in this building, both times as a top 5 team facing an unranked Seminole team. Don’t think that Coach K won’t let his players know this improved FSU team is no pushover. .

 

The Blue Devils have one of the nation’s toughest schedules ahead of them as they have at least eight games against ranked teams on their way to the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils are a team that has the potential to go undefeated for the rest of the year or finish with 10 losses. Either way Mike Krzyzewski teams always find a way to win games in March.  They can win from a #1 seed as they did in the NCAA Tournament in 2001 or they can surprise everyone from the #3 spot as they did in last years ACC Tournament. 

 

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