For diehard fans of any sport, the time leading up to the start of a season is often filled with optimism. There is plenty of excitement as the season starts: Fans are hoping for improvement from returning players and stardom from new ones.
This is especially true in the culture of college basketball, where the best freshmen are often the best players on a team and veterans often make large strides in the offseason.
For fans of elite teams like Duke basketball, the optimism is multiplied. We have seen our teams easily handle roster turnover and players come into their own so many times we usually just assume our team’s top returning players will be All-Americans.
But as Duke fans know all too well, you really have no idea how a season will unfold until it starts.
In 2009 Duke was expected to have a solid team but not a vintage one. When the season started, Jon Scheyer turned into an All-American, Nolan Smith became a scoring machine, and Brian Zoubek became the enforcer the team needed on the way to the national championship.
The following year Duke returned Smith and Kyle Singler and brought in stud Kyrie Irving, the Devils were No. 1 in the preseason polls and there was even speculation about the team going undefeated. Unfortunately, Irving went down after just eight games, and the team failed to adjust to his return in the NCAA tournament, losing to Arizona in the Sweet 16.
This year Duke will likely enter the season with a lofty ranking and championship aspirations from team members and fans alike. However, for all the strengths this team may have, there are also reasons for caution.
Here are the top things Duke fans should worry about in advance of the 2014 season.