College basketball got underway for most teams unaffected by recent COVID cases, which sadly, does not include Duke. The scheduled opener for Wednesday against Gardner-Webb was cancelled due to a case within the opposing program. Of course, we hope everyone is okay there and we know teams on both sides are disappointed to miss a game.
The Blue Devils are case-free at the moment, and the de facto opener against Coppin State, scheduled for Saturday, is currently set to go on. Barring a surprise positive test or other issue, the Coppin State and Duke medical teams worked cohesively to ensure the game could be played safely. There was a positive test within the Coppin State program this week (not a player or coach, but personnel) but everyone else has tested negative multiple times to date. We trust that Duke will do everything possible to make sure this game is as safe as possible prior to tipoff.
And assuming we get to a tipoff… Duke will start today! It’s a wonderful feeling after a long offseason. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last eight months, it’s that we have to stay in the moment and savor it because we don’t know what’s happening to the season next.
An interesting note about the Coppin State program: Maryland’s Juan Dixon is their coach. Dixon was a national champion in 2002 and Most Outstanding Player for that Final Four, too. He was also on the court for the legendary 2001 “Miracle Minute” game. Duke, led by the likes of Jason Williams, Shane Battier, and current associate head coach Nate James, overcame a double digit deficit in the final 60 seconds of the game. That game happened in College Park, but is well-remembered in Cameron. He’ll be back against Duke, this time on the sideline and in Cameron. There was no absence of dislike between Duke and Maryland before the Terps left the ACC.
We can’t wait to watch the game. You can see my season preview here, but we’ll be looking for veterans like Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore to lead while the young stars get their footing. You can catch the game on ACC Network Extra.
Duke Football plays today too, against Georgia Tech at 7pm. Tech is 2-5 to Duke’s 2-6, so hopefully the Blue Devils can get something going over in Atlanta.