College Hoops

Duke’s season ends with encouraging signs, big questions ahead of star-studded recruiting class’ arrival

Duke's season ends with encouraging signs, big questions ahead of star-studded recruiting class' arrival


When you don the iconic navy blue, play in front of the Cameron Crazies and follow in the footsteps of some of the sport’s all-time greats, the expectations are high. Championship-level high. Every year, no matter the names on the back of the uniform. When the name on the front reads “Duke,” moral victories are fleeting … if they exist at all. 

Jon Scheyer knows it as well as anyone. He played in 144 games for the Blue Devils and was twice a team captain. In his senior year (2010), Scheyer played the most minutes in ACC history and captained the Blue Devils to a national title.

Scheyer returned to Durham, North Carolina, in 2013 after a brief pro career. He hasn’t left since, gradually moving up the ranks. In June 2021, Mike Krzyzewski didn’t just announce he was retiring after the upcoming season, but he appointed Scheyer his successor. The man synonymous with the sport’s most recognizable program was leaving impossible shoes to fill but knew exactly who he wanted to try and fill them — an enormous honor with enormous pressure.

Duke has no reservations about Scheyer’s accomplishments. On the second page of the team’s 2023-24 media guide is a massive overlay of Scheyer smiling wide next to a headline that reads, “John Scheyer By The Numbers.” National championships and ACC championships. Recruiting numbers. All-Americans and NBA Draft.

But there were no smiles after Sunday’s loss to NC State in the Elite Eight. This wasn’t just a loss to a conference rival but an in-state rival, often the forgotten member the Duke-North Carolina-NC State “research triangle.” It came half a month after NC State stunned Duke in the Blue Devils’ ACC Tournament opener, after which Scheyer said his team didn’t have the “competitive fire you need to have in the postseason.”

There was no lack of competitive fire this time, but rather a lack of composure. Kyle Filipowski, in likely his last game with Duke, shot 3 of 12 and fouled out. Mark Mitchell fouled out. Tyrese Proctor missed all nine of his shots. Team captain Jeremy Roach needed 13 shots to score 13 points. These were the veterans expected to carry the Blue Devils. Duke’s offense was “probably the most disjointed game that we’ve had all year,” per Scheyer, and completely fell apart late. The defense was a mess throughout the second period as NC State shot a stunning 19 of 26 in the final 20 minutes of game time. 

Two years into the…

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