Posted: 12:24 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Playing for Duke is certainly never boring.
The Blue Devils' basketball class of 2013 committed to Duke during a time of uncertainty and anxiety following "The Paulus Years," a time when national Duke-hate reached a fever pitch without any of the results that made previous swells of vitriol tolerable for the Duke faithful. Concurrently, Roy Williams was the new sheriff in town at UNC, and had rattled off two national championships in the span of five years, and, believe it or not, the rumblings within Blue Devil national included wishful chatter about the retirement of hall-of-fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. Fans clamored for a desperately needed image change, and two lanky, white kids from North Carolina private schools and a Liberty transfer weren't exactly going to cut it.
Four years later, Duke fans collectively wonder how they can squeeze another five or six years out of Krzyzewski, a 4th championship banner hangs from the rafters in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Ryan Kelly has a beard. Oh, and by the way, Mason Plumlee is a national player of the year candidate and Duke is a threat to win another NCAA championship. And, of course, Duke is still universally hated. While Blue Devil fans begged for a group to come in and change everything, the biggest accomplishment by Duke's class of 2013 was in keeping everything exactly the same.
Here's a look at the five most memorable games in Cameron during the careers of Plumlee, Kelly, Curry and Zafirovski.
5. February 16th, 2012 - Duke Erases 20 Point Deficit to Top NC State
Just nine days after Duke capped off a late-game double-digit comeback against rival UNC with an iconic Austin Riversbuzzer-beater, the Blue Devils trailed NC State 61-41 with just 11 minutes remaining. Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly combined for 23 points during Duke's 37-12 run to end the game.
4. December 1st, 2010 - Hello, Kyrie
Freshman superstar and arguably the most talented player ever to wear a Duke uniform, Kyrie Irving, had his national coming out party against 6th ranked Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. Irving scored 31 points on just 12 shots, putting together a personal highlight reel in one of the most electrifying individual performances of the season. Unfortunately, it would be Irving's final game in Cameron Indoor as he would go on to injure his foot in the next game against Butler, sidelining him until the NCAA tournament.
3. March 6th, 2010 - #BEATEMDOWN
Coach K will typically leave a one-word message on the locker room white board before each game, and coming off of a frustrating loss on the road to Maryland in the previous game, not to mention a four-game home court losing streak to North Carolina, I'm guessing "Catharsis" was the word on 2010's senior night as Duke curbstomped the Heels by a score of 82-50. Nine games later, Duke would cut down the nets in Indianapolis.
2. February 5th, 2012 - The Birth of a New Rivalry
Anyone surprised at Miami's emergence as one of the nation's top teams this year must not have seen the Hurricanes in Cameron a year ago. Reggie Johnson scored 27 points as Miami outlasted Duke 78-74 in overtime, setting the stage for one of this season's most intriguing rivalries. It was also a game that both Quinn Cook and Mason Plumlee have mentioned at various points during this season as motivation. Start to finish, it was arguably the best game in the ACC a season ago.
1. February 9th, 2011 - The Loudest Noise I've Ever Heard
Ryan Kelly only made one shot against UNC in this game, but it was something I'll remember as the loudest noise I've ever heard in my entire life. Duke was down by 14 points at the half, and while Seth Curry and Nolan Smith did the heavy lifting to get the Blue Devils back in the game, Ryan Kelly hit a three-pointer with just over nine minutes left to give Duke their first lead of the game. It was the kind of game that people make overly dramatic highlight videos of.