What They Missed?

Often, late at night, when I’m all alone lying on the couch, I stare at the hole in my ceiling and wonder, what would Scarlett Johansson look like wearing nothing but my ’88 Alaa Abdelnaby jersey. I also often think about the ‘What If’ scenarios of Duke basketball with either former players who left early, or more recently, how good would the Blue Devils be if they had landed just one of the five-star big men that have passed on Duke the last two years. /

However, as Duke sits in the top ten again this season, preparing for their 13th straight tournament trip, I thought to myself, why am I doing this to myself? Why do I continue to torture myself? I need to stop thinking this way. Maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t be the one asking the question.

The three players I’m thinking about are; Patrick Patterson, Greg Monroe, and Gregory Echenique. All three are power forwards/centers who were heavily recruited by the Duke coaching staff. All three knew they had a starting spot just waiting for them the day they walked onto Coach K floor. Yet all three players went elsewhere.

Now with the NCAA tournament only two weeks away, I wonder, do they ever ask themselves, did I make the right decision? Do any of them realize, that if they had picked the Devils, they’d be starting on team headed to the tournament as one of the favorites? Note: I’m not calling Duke a favorite heading into this year’s tournament. I’m saying they would be one of the favorites if they landed one of these big men.

Anyhow, I only ask this question because all three, despite their solid play this season, will most likely be watching the NCAA tournament from home.

Yeah, I know, I’m sounding a bit like a bitter Devils fan. I have to say though, I have no ill will against these guys. Each one is a great player, and all three will soon be playing at the next level. However, with the tournament just around the corner, do they ever think…man, I could be playing in that. Yep, I definitely sound like a bitter Duke fan. How can I not be though?

Patrick Patterson – Two years ago I felt like we had a 50/50 chance to grab him. He had a great visit to Cameron, incoming freshman Singler, King & Smith were preaching Duke to him at the McDonalds game and Kentucky was breaking in a new coach, yet he decided to go Wildcat blue. After two seasons, he’s lost 24 games, and thanks to a recent three-game slide, UK (19-13) will probably miss the opportunity to be bounced out of the first round again (barring a great run in the SEC tournament). If Duke had his 19/9 with Singler and Henderson, UNC would be looking up at them.

Greg Monroe – Although I always knew Georgetown was the favorite to land Monroe, I held out hope, even though I expected him to be a one-and-done. While his stats don’t compare to Patterson’s, you have to believe they’d be better if he was running-n-gunnin’ with the Devils. Instead, the Hoyas have lost 9 of 11 (sitting at 15-13 for the year) and unless Georgetown stuns the world in the Big East Tournament, he’s only a couple more games away from going pro.

Gregory Echenique – Not a name the casual basketball fan would know, but trust me, he’s no worse than Monroe. Word on the street was Echenique was a smart kid, so a good education was something that mattered to him. The last time I checked, Duke University could deliver in that department, so I was feeling good about this one. I was wrong to feel good. Gregory decided to stay close to home and went to Rutgers. This is when I knew things were bad. The Scarlett Knights are currently riding a 8-game losing streak and have dropped 16 out of their last 17, all while I’m left to wonder how much better Duke would be with his eight points, eight rebounds (as well as 74 blocks).

While none of these guys have been able to make their respected teams great (or even good in some cases), I’m stuck wondering if one of them could have been the difference and turned a good Duke team into a great Duke team.

Wait, the point of this post was that I was going to stop thinking that way. Shit.