By Colin Ogburn, Staff Writer
Duke has had its fair share of misfortunes this season. Predicted by some to compete in the finals this year, however, Duke was instead plagued with unlucky setbacks taking hit after hit and being pushed farther from making these predictions a reality.
The first of these setbacks were the injuries of all three of their top recruits: Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Boldon. Giles was out after a knee surgery before the start of the season which had him sitting out 11 games at the very beginning of the season. Tatum had a sprained food and had to sit out the first few games as well. Bolden was out with a lower leg injury which he also picked up before the season had started.
“It was like a sucker punch having those three players being out before the season had even started,” said Reynolds senior and Duke fan Austin Smith.
All three of these freshmen have since made their debut for Duke this year, but none of them had memorable performances.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with bad luck, it had to do with the fact that they had three inexperienced freshmen who came into the league and did not perform the way they had hoped,” said Reynolds basketball coach, Billy Martin.
The next problem that Duke faced was the suspension of star player Grayson Allen. Grayson Allen was suspended after tripping Elon player, Steven Santa Ana, in a game on December 21. Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, stated that Allen’s suspension would be indefinite. This was seemingly the worst luck Duke had been given yet. However, Allen only ended up serving a two week suspension. During these two weeks Duke only played in one game against Virginia Tech, which they lost, due to the suspension happening mostly over the holiday break. Allen was then back in the starting line-up in their next game against Georgia Tech. This outraged many people who pull against Duke, but was a relief for Duke’s supporters.
“Having Grayson Allen out seemed like it was going to be the end of the season. It was such a relief when he came back,” said Smith.
The relief did not last very long though. Just as Allen came back, Coach Krzyzewski was going to be out for back surgery. The game after Allen’s “return”, Krzyzewski had to undergo back surgery and will be out for at least four weeks while recovering. His substitute was former Duke player Jeff Capel who had stepped in while Krzyzewski was on leave before and lead the team to a win.
Duke has done surprisingly well given the events of the season.
“I am proud of how the team has done in spite of all the bad things that had happened to them this year. I think this could still be a good year for Duke,” Smith said.
They still hold on to a record of 16-5 and getting better each game. If they keep it up they still could have a good shot at the finals.
“As much as I am a Carolina fan, I think Duke will be fine,” said Martin.
Photo from ESPN