Duke basketball may not return on time, but it may return at an ideal time.
This summer, due to current world conditions, the Duke basketball program didn’t welcome its players to campus until early August, roughly a month later than in recent years. Yet it doesn’t seem likely at this point that the Blue Devils will end up with significantly fewer preparation days than usual as a unit.
How so? On Thursday, CBS Sports insider Jon Rothstein reported via tweet that the recent chatter among decision-makers pinpoints either Nov. 25 or Dec. 4 as the potential tipoff date for the 2020-21 college hoops season. Duke’s originally scheduled first game is against Michigan State on Nov. 10 in Chicago as part of the Champions Classic.
Therefore, assuming those original plans are now out of the question, the Blue Devils should enjoy at least two added weeks before their regular season to work on getting into playing shape, establishing roles, building chemistry, finding an identity, and all that mess.
Granted, the update from Rothstein surely falls into the “extremely tentative plans” category. The same goes for his tweet a few weeks back noting the talks among power conferences of bubble-type settings for all games, possibly to include the same ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as the NBA’s current Orlando bubble.
But the start dates make sense considering they fall toward the beginning of winter break when Duke and other teams would seemingly have an easier time knocking out a large chunk of the regular season (whether the schedules would include non-conference foes remains an even bigger question mark).
As things stand, like it or not, the late-November or early-December start date probably represents the earliest possibility. Better late than never. There’s no doubt, though, that Duke basketball fans yearn to watch Blue Devils hooping again, especially when considering the program’s last outing finalized a season sweep of lowly rival North Carolina way back on March 7.
What the all-important Duke basketball chief has to say
However, regardless of what the 2020-21 (or maybe just 2021?) regular season entails, 41st-year Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski made clear on ESPN Radio last week the No. 1 priority (outside of player safety, of course):
“We can’t have it where two years in a row you don’t have the NCAA Tournament. I think that’s where you should start. Make sure you have the tournament. It doesn’t make any difference when it is because we don’t even know when the NBA season is going to be next year. And we should look at them to see how they navigate the waters going forward. They’ve navigated them really well with the bubble.”
“Bubble Blue Devils” does, after all, have a nice ring to it.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball news and views.