Over the last 10 years North Carolina has won two championships, that is one more than Duke, but they have yet to win it back-to-back. Should Duke win the NCAA championship again next season it will be a significant plus in the argument of which team is better.
At the moment, Mike Krzyzewski will happily leave these debates to the fans as he focuses on the upcoming season. On the surface it sounds unbelievable when he says that they are not looking to repeat, but it is a new dawn and a new day.
"Why would you want to repeat the same experience?" Krzyzewski said. "What you want to do is have the same result of winning the national championship. But figure out what journey you're going to be on along the way."
What Coach K is saying, is that he will happily have the same result as last season but using a different style, one more suitable to the current roster he has while rightfully downplaying expectations.
Duke may be favored to win this year, but last year anyone who had serious money on Duke winning it all were either family, die-hard fans, or people a whisker away from the looney bin. This is what NBC columnist Rob Dauster had to say when choosing his favourite teams to win the tournament:
"This is Duke. Are we supposed to have faith in them winning a big NCAA tournament when they haven't shown that ability in recent seasons? They've also struggled away from the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor this year. Forgive me if I have my doubts about the Blue Devils succeeding in March."
Indeed, Duke normally wins at home and last season they took that to another level when they went undefeated at Cameron Indoor Stadium, with all five of their losses coming on the road. Give Dauster credit as he did pick Duke fourth on his list behind Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse, effectively making Duke the weakest of the four number one seeds.
This year, Duke will no doubt start the season as the team to beat with the addition of Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving. But as Coach K cautiously points out, these guys need a chance to come together. Roles need to be assigned as to date the starting line up has yet to be made public.
The general consensus is that Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving will be in the backcourt with Singler and the Plumlee brothers, Mason and Miles anchoring the frontline. However, Curry might be an enigma as he fully intends to challenge for a starting position.
"He [coach Krzyzewski] hasn’t really talked about the rotation,” says Curry. “But I’m just gonna try and go in and get as much playing time, earn a starting spot, and stuff like that. I’m just gonna go in and do what I do. Be aggressive on the offensive end, put points on the board, and defensively put pressure on the ball like all his guards do."
Curry, who averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 34.7 percent on three-point attempts his one season at Liberty before transferring to Duke, has a legitimate chance of cracking the lineup.
Chad Ford sees the younger Curry as more of a point guard when comparing him to his brother Stephen who plays for the Golden State Warriors. However, at this point there is just too much hype surrounding Irving to relegate him to the bench.
If Duke wants to stay in the framework for top five recruits in the future bringing Irving, a top-three recruit according to ESPN.com, off the bench will be unproductive—especially since he is widely considered a one-and-done prospect.
Not to suggest that Duke borrow a page out of John Calipari’s book and start a farm system for the NBA, but it is to their benefit that Irving stays on track to leave in a year. If he chooses to come back after this season on his own accord then all is well. Hence, the only way Curry could start is if Duke goes to a three guard line up with Singler getting some much needed experience for life after college, by roughing it up with the bigs.
With Miles or Mason filling the last spot as Nolan has the shooting guard spot locked down after his performance in the tournament last season, Duke can be the running team coach Krzyzewski expects them to be.
"We're going to run more," Krzyzewski said. "We're going to try to force a few more turnovers, try to get more possessions in a game. Most people expect us to win right away," Krzyzewski said. "The people who expect that won't get that, so we don't expect that."
“We need to develop like our team last year developed and give them an opportunity to do that. We can't play for the national championship in every practice and every game. What we need to do is give them a chance to grow in a system and, by the time you are in a position to do that, be ready for it."
Duke may currently have a lot of offensive fire power, but it will be their attention to the smaller issues that will determine the outcome of games in their favour.