Duke Basketball: Depth next season could rouse dormant chant

Duke basketball (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

A Duke basketball bench that looks to be historically deep next season may call for the revival of a chant that acknowledges such depth.

The Cameron Crazies may want to track down some middle-aged alums for some ideas before the start of the next Duke basketball season.

Most of today’s students weren’t quite born yet the peak year of a certain chant — one coach Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t lately given fans any reason to dust off — which announced an obvious advantage following the Blue Devils’ mass substitutions.

The chant?



During the 1997-98 season, Krzyzewski would oftentimes replace five at a time. And almost every time he did so during home games, the Crazies would respond by belting out the first half of the above chant while pointing to Duke’s bench; then they briefly paused before pointing to the opponents’ bench while poking fun by belting out the latter half.

Blowouts by the Blue Devils often ensued as a result of the team consisting of so many talented-enough-to-play pieces.

The squad in Durham that season, the only one across Coach K’s 39 seasons to have 12 players average at least 2.5 points, finished with a heartbreaking loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight but compiled an impressive 31-4 overall record, including a 15-1 mark for the ACC regular season.

The squad in Durham that season had as its strong suit what next season’s squad will likely share: a balanced mix of experience and youth with seemingly a dozen guys worthy of more than just mop-up minutes (assuming big men Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier return after receiving an estimated value of their professional stock).

But will Krzyzewski, who most every March only plays seven or eight max, regularly delve as deep into his bench next season as he did that season more than 20 years ago?

With 195 days still to go until the Blue Devils open against Kansas in the Champions Classic on Nov. 5, not even the living legend himself may yet know the answer to that question.

However, in order to get the most out of the slew of talents the roster has to offer, it seems he should. It seems that his subbing four or five at a time throughout the season — keeping legs fresh so they can easily maintain a breakneck pace, an aggressive man-to-man, and a frequent full-court press — would pose a threat to every team that will be on Duke’s schedule.

It seems Coach K using double-digit players from the start would be the best way to keep any of the qualified ballers from entertaining thoughts of transferring before the start of the second semester.

Three seniors-to-be who each drew at least a few starts last season — Bolden, DeLaurier, and forward Jack White — have proven when at their best they are weapons any program would benefit from playing double-digit minutes per contest.

Two juniors-to-be, both guards, each established a significant role last season for a 32-6 team that fell a few free throws short of reaching the Final Four. Alex O’Connell added his touch via his outside touch, becoming the team’s most reliable threat from beyond the arc (he’s hit 41.6 percent of his 3-point attempts since his arrival in Durham). Jordan Goldwire primarily contributed with his on-ball defense, often teaming with fellow pickpocketer Tre Jones to stress out opposing guards.

As for Jones, the sophomore-to-be turned down a chance at being a first-round selection at the upcoming NBA Draft in order to lead the Blue Devils as the sure-fire starting point guard for a second consecutive season. And he is the one guy who, if Coach K does choose the mass-sub option, should stay on the floor far more times than not.

Fellow sophomore-to-be Joey Baker played only 18 total minutes last season due to Krzyzewski anticipating he would redshirt — only to have him ditch said redshirt in late February after the injury bug bit Duke.

While Baker’s trace amount of playing time did little to quantify his potential value, the wing had a sensational high school career and came to Duke with a No. 33 ranking on the 247Sports Composite for the 2018 class — after reclassifying from the 2019 class.

Speaking of the 2019 class, the Blue Devils will benefit from five freshmen-to-be next season who each sport a top-35 composite ranking and comprise the nation’s No. 1 recruiting haul.

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Three of the five — center Vernon Carey Jr., power forward Matthew Hurt, and small forward Wendell Moore — are McDonald’s All-Americans and likely to join Jones in the starting five.

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The other two — combo guard Boogie Ellis, who may be Jones’ protege next season, and shooting guard Cassius Stanley, who looks like he plays with an invisible trampoline under his feet — are likely to at least be in the conversation to fill the fifth starting spot.

ALSO READ: Cassius Stanley commits as Coach K crushes his peers

Any of the 12 players this article names, though, could potentially be a starter. And that points to just how deep the roster will be.

Deep enough to bring back the late-1990s chant?

We’ll find out — though, unfortunately for fans like this writer who are already suffering Duke basketball withdrawal, not until at least the first game in Cameron Indoor Stadium about seven months from now.

Next. Coach K's 10 most memorable wins. dark

With so many exciting questions to answer, warranted by such a deep and well-balanced collection of Blue Devils, November can’t come soon enough.