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Tar Heel Pundits
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Reacting to Adversity

Of course, the flip side of the difficulties that the Pack has been having is the success of Duke this year. Notwithstanding their loss last night, the Blue Devils are way ahead of anyone's expectations this year. Even Dookie V had Duke ranked 8th in his Nov. 22nd top 25. As much as it pains me to say it, Coach K may be doing the best coaching job of his career. Consider the players K lost to the draft last year. Chris Duhon, senior All-American. Shaun Livingston never enrolled at Duke. Luol Deng entered the draft after his freshman season. While Duke's schedule has not been the toughest in the nation so far, it is amazing that their first loss was last night. Coach K has done a remarkable job creating an atmosphere where every player, whether one of the "Big 3" of Ewing, Williams, and Redick, or one of the role players can step up each night and contribute in any number of ways for a win. These players buy into the team idea, and it has shown with their play on the court. If I remember correctly, Coach K is playing with something like seven scholarship players, and still is 15-1. That is how a good team faces down adversity.

A team that has not done well this year, as pointed out by Ryan, is N.C. State. State finished 20-9 last year and lost in the second round of the ACC tournament to the eventual winner (Maryland). They were then a three seed in the NCAA tournament, only to lose to sixth-seeded Vanderbilt in the next round. It seemed that State would only get better this year. Their best player, Julius Hodge, decided not to declare for the draft, and they returned most of the core of the previous players. Yet, their season is on the edge right now. Conference losses to Miami, Va. Tech, and Fla. State have really hurt their chances of making the NCAAs.

Why has Duke succeeded this year while State has not? Comments are open...

posted by John Branch @ 9:19 AM

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