The Westfield Voice

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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Duke’s First Loss May Be a Win

As a lifelong Blue Devils fan who will most certainly name one of his future dogs Duke, I am more glad than anything else that Duke was handed their first loss against then #3 ranked Gonzaga. Duke will fall a few spots in the AP poll, but this will do them nothing but good in the end. There a multitude of reasons that I am happy about this loss so let me list a few:

First, the sports world is finally going to shut up about if Duke could beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in a winner take all, do or die, one game for your life. This was a nonsense argument, and I am glad it is over. Duke only has three players who would make an NBA roster today. As much as I would love to go into that tangent, it isn’t even worth my time.

Second, RJ Barrett’s hero ball was tried and failed. Duke missed their last seven shots after being handed multiple chances by the Zags, and Barrett missed five oft hem. Barrett is the best player in college and I am confident in stating that, but he was walking around like he was the best thing since sliced bread. Reality check, no one can win by themselves in basketball. Tre Jones or Zion Williamson should have had a shot with the ball in their hand, and Barrett will be a better team player after watching the tape of this game’s ending.

Third, the undefeated season label is done looming over the head of these freshman. This team is starting four first years, and there was immense pressure about them going undefeated, and potentially being the best college team of all time. Stop it. They are a historically young team that Dick Vitale would refer to as a bunch of “Diaper Dandies.” In college hoops, experience is proven to win out again and again. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Fab Five how many championships they won at Michigan.

Fourth, Duke will be more willing to play as a team. Now that the weight of best team ever, undefeated season, and the rest of the unnecessary pressures are off this team, they can play normal basketball. They can focus on being a team, and not building their own brands and personalities with every spotlight on them.

Fifth, Duke already has wins against the then ranked #2 and then ranked #8 teams in the country. They have big wins, but this gets a big loss out of the way. They know how it feels to lose to a great team that they know they should have beaten. This isn’t very common for top flight teams, they normally drop a surprise game against a VCU or U Miami. This loss will stick with the players and will only be a positive thing to learn from at the end of the day.

Duke fans and college basketball fans alike, take advice from Aaron Rodgers and “R-E-L-A-X.”Duke will be fine. It also feels oxymoronic to be telling college basketball fans who routinely hate Duke to calm down because they’ll be okay but it is hard to hate this team. There’s no Christian Laettner or Grayson Allen, there is likable Canadian phenom/Steve Nash’s godson RJ Barrett. There is social media superstar Zion Williamson.

Not to mention the humble Tre Jones and Marques Bolden, paired up with the quiet and unassuming third star Cam Reddish. I have a close friend who is a UNC fan who said he loves this Duke team, and if that doesn’t speak volumes on this point, I don’t know what could.

Regardless, Gonzaga earned and deserved this win led by their freshman star, the Japanese Rui Hachimura. They executed a solid defensive game plan, hit over 60% of their shots in the first half, and played as a team. They have Killian Tillie returning to the lineup later this season, and will be a team to be reckoned with come March.

Selfishly as a Duke fan, I would love to see Duke and the Zags meet again in the NCAATournament for some revenge. Yet, I will still pick the same bracket I do every year: Duke over UNC for the championship.

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