November 15, 2005

Du(k)e Return to the Top

After conceding a year to the nemesis down the road a few miles, the best has risen to the top of the charts again. And no, I am not talking about the controversy between the local Fundamentalist and 'New Evangelical' churches in the area. What I am referring to is the Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team. (You may quit reading if you have a conviction about the morality of the mascots of sports teams.) After a disappointing, yet understandable Sweet 16 loss to Michigan St. in last year's NCAA tourney, Duke is again ranked pre-season #1 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls. This is almost undebatable (sorry Big X fans) considering the return of National Player of the Year and 1st Team ACC guard J.J. Redick and the Defensive Player of the Year Shelden Williams, aptly nicknamed "the Landlord."

On top of two preseason All-Americas (Redick, Williams), Duke boasts the #1 recruiting class for 2005. Three of the six incorming freshmen were McDonald's All-Americas of 2004. They are Josh McRoberts, Greg Paulus, and Eric Boateng. They should provide much depth and energy to an already star-studded line-up. Although McRoberts may only be a one-year player, the others should have lasting impact.

To have had an "off-season," according to critics, and to still win the ACC tournament, have the National Player and Defensive Player of the Year, and make it to the Sweet 16, they didn't do too badly. With the best active NCAA coach and arguably the best starting 5 in the nation, Duke is well on their way to Coach K's 11th final four, and (cross my fingers) his 4th National Championship.