On the Brink

"Get your licks in now. In thirty years I'll be the champ."

To begin, Sports Illustrated has a wonderful gallery of Mike Krzyzewski pictures located here. Anyone who has paid attention to the sports world this year has noticed an increased amount of attention placed on Coach K this year.  Why? Coach K is about to be the winningest coach in college basketball history.  His next victory, #903, will put him above his old coach Bob Knight.  This record may never be defeated because 903 is a huge number and Coach K has numerous years of coaching ahead of him.  He will continue to win 25-35 games a year and the number will only grow larger as time passes.  His career has been nothing short of remarkable.  Early struggles almost sent him into coaching obscurity, but Duke stuck with Coach K and has been wonderfully rewarded.

Anyone who watched the aftermath of the Duke-Presbyterian game on Saturday was able to witness a wonderful interview with Coach K’s wife, Mickie.  She was extremely well-spoken as she described the path to #903 and the changes Coach K had to make along the way. One thing she focused on was Coach K’s adaptability to new situations.  She acknowledged that Coach K would have preferred to stay steady and unchanging in his career, but instead he rose to new challenges and adapted along the way.  Coach K has typically been brilliant when he finds himself in an arduous situation and he responds quickly and intelligently.  I love watching Duke basketball because Coach K makes every year exciting and interesting because of what he brings to the table.  As Duke fans we are extremely lucky to witness him in action and it will be a sad day when he retires.  However, Coach K has numerous years left and I plan to savor them as much as possible.

Lets get down to business!  Duke has played their first two games.  They survived a scare against a good Belmont team and laid the smackdown on a not so good Presbyterian team. It’s too early to jump to any conclusions regarding this current team, and this season will be full of ups and downs, but this team has a lot of potential. This team is deep, Marianas Trench deep. They have a variety of players who can play a variety of positions and I’m sure will see a lot of experimentation before the line-up is solidified for conference play. Two things to note: Alex Murphy did not play in either game because of a concussion he suffered during practice and Marshall Plumlee did not play in either game and I predict he will redshirt. If my prediction comes true I’ll be disappointed that Marshall will not be able to dunk like his brothers this year, but this does mean an extra year of Plumleeness.  Plus, Marshall cheering on the bench for his brothers was an amazing thing to witness.  He loves his brothers, he wants them to succeed, and he is vocal about it.

I was impressed by both of the Plumlee’s in both of the games.  They had their typical moments of impressive basketball juxtaposed with boneheaded plays and poor defensive maneuvering, but I’m extremely optimistic for Plumlee play this year.  I especially enjoyed that Duke ran a lot of post offense in the game.  They passed it into the Plumlee’s like I’ve never seen before.  I know that Duke played short teams, but Mason looked remarkably skilled out there.  Against Presbyterian he had a wonderful up and under post move that made me wax nostalgically about Hakeem the Dream.  However, they did have some terrible plays. I don’t remember which game it was, but there was a sequence where Mason shot a terrible layup, Miles got the rebound and bricked a point blank dunk.  In another sequence Mason took the ball up the floor (which he is remarkably good at) then tried to dunk it from around the free-throw line.  He bobbled the ball and got a charge called on him.  I shook my head and yelled “Plumlee!” at the top of my lungs.  The word frustrating keeps running through my brain whenever I contemplate Mason and Miles because they have the potential to be incredible.

Today Duke takes on Michigan St. and Coach K has the shot at #903.  The game will be tough but I think Duke will pull it out in the end.  Hopefully the Plumlee’s will be throwing hook shots and dunking all over the place.

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