“It’s February now; I’m not a freshman anymore.”
“Every once in a while he goes to being a freshman.”
-Mike Krzyzewski on Rasheed Sulaimon
Sunday seemed like family day at Cameron, packed with a crowd both younger and older than usual, grandparents and grandkids skipping their naps for the 2 p.m. start. They say that most teams get a six-to-eight point edge at home, but against Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the advantage looked like six to eight months.
Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson aged up, racking up 41 points between them, while BC’s kids were kids again, ditching turnovers across the court like unloved toys.
All in all, it was a tortuous game, as in BC was tortured by Duke, the refs, the crowd and themselves in a herky-jerky game that was pocked with fouls, clock stoppages, floor scrubbings, and replay review, lasting over two hours that felt like four.
“Not that I want to get our asses kicked,” said BC coach Steve Donahue, musing on the afternoon his 11 freshman and sophomores had just spent. “[But] I think when they get back here as juniors and seniors, that they’ll be way better for this experience.”
Post-game, Coach K looked ahead, repeating his recent mantra about the much-anticipated return of Ryan Kelly, soon. “What does soon mean, I don’t know,” Krzyzewski explained. “We have to make sure when he does come back that the good things we’re doing now are paid attention to and not just getting him back involved.”
By the end of the game, you could almost hear the deep hope swelling in the building, what with these freshman growing up before their eyes, the Kelly news and those recent cracks showing in the armor of ACC leader Miami. It was so hopeful that no one seemed to notice the final plays of the game for each of the freshman heroes: an avoidable fifth foul for Jefferson and a forced drive and turnover from Sulaimon. They might be old in Cameron, but it’s the road games that tell you whether they can leave their security blankets at home: Thursday, Feb. 28, at Virginia. Stay tuned.
Box score is here.