Duke basketball’s inexperience could be a major problem in 2021 Tourney

Duke basketball guard Jordan Goldwire (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball guard Jordan Goldwire (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament could have a lasting effect on the Duke basketball program entering the 2021 Tourney due to the team’s youth and inexperience.

On the outside, it doesn’t seem many things have changed: another crop of players leaves Duke, a different crop of players enters Duke.

However, next year is different.

The Blue Devils will be losing Tre Jones, Cassius Stanley, and Vernon Carey Jr. early for the NBA, and seniors Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson have used up all of their eligibility.

More from Ball Durham

However, regardless of the claims Stanley made about Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore returning to Duke for their sophomore seasons, the Blue Devils could be in trouble once March rolls around.

It’s common knowledge that veteran teams do very well in the NCAA Tournament as well as in the team’s respective conference tournaments, and Duke teams are not immune to that.

A veteran Blue Devil team won the National Championship in 2010 while a core of freshmen, sprinkled with upperclassmen, did the same in 2015.

However, Duke will have only one player who has ever stepped foot on the court in the ACC Tournament on its 2020-21 roster, rising senior Jordan Goldwire.

The Blue Devils will only have two players who ever stepped foot on the court in the NCAA Tournament, Goldwire and rising junior Joey Baker.

Goldwire has logged a total of 47 minutes in the previous two NCAA Tournaments he played in as a freshman and sophomore, and he’s logged a combined 51 minutes in four ACC Tournament games.

ALSO READ: Duke roster looks set after freshman claims two will return

Baker has never played in an ACC Tournament and only saw seven minutes in the Round of 64 in a 23-point blowout in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

That’s two of fifteen players, scholarship and walk-on, playing in meaningful college basketball postseason games.

For a program that usually has a young roster, that’s a startling number.

Graduate transfer Patrick Tape has not even played in a conference tournament game as the Ivy League just put its tournament back into place in 2017, and Columbia has yet to finish in the top four of the regular season standings to qualify.

ALSO READ: The projected Duke starting five for next season

Thinking about a March Madness in 2020-21 is a long way off, especially considering the current state of the United States, but the six-man recruiting class paired with the two sophomores returning could be put in a very difficult spot trying to navigate the postseason for the very first time together.

But one thing Duke fans can take solace in is that they will have the right man at the head of the ship in the five-time National Champion and Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski.