Was the Blue Devils Season a Failure?

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David Facaros

Considering Duke had just escaped consecutive rounds of the NCAA tournament thanks largely to two point-blank, last-gasp shots that rolled precipitously off the rim, it was not altogether unsurprising that the Blue Devils’ 2018–19 season ended with a loss to Michigan State. The Spartans beat Duke 68-67 in an Elite 8 thriller that ended in tears and disappointment.

There was a belief around the country that when healthy, this team was one of the greatest teams of all-time. They had the three highest recruits in the nation coming into this year along with the best coach in college basketball. Senior Adam Hascher said, “This year was definitely a failure considering they had the top three players in the country.”

This year Zion averaged 22.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 1.8 blocks while RJ Barret averaged 22.7, 7.6 rpg, and 4.3 apg. Also, Zion won the Wayman Tisdale Award and was the ACC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year while RJ was First Team All-ACC.

If you followed the team from start to finish, it made enough sense that Krzyzewski’s approach from the start was to simplify, rather than complicate. When you have a big, athletic team of freshmen that can destroy people in transition and dominate within controlled chaos, led by a superstar in Williamson who does both better than perhaps any player we’ve seen do in a college uniform, you let them play.