GREENSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – All Duke wanted was a chance. Five wins in five days is what it needed for an ACC championship and to make the NCAA tournament.
Through two games, the Blue Devils showed they have the talent, but talent, no matter how great, has a limit. However, a chance is boundless and capable of anything. It was by chance, despite some of the strictest protocols, someone in the Duke program tested positive for COVID-19 after Wednesday night’s game, stopping their season in its tracks.
“That blew my mind,” said Wake Forest fan Branden Hagar. “I was telling my dad before this that I thought that team (Duke) could maybe win the game and the tournament.”
The Blue Devils looked like they were on their way. Boston College was no match on Tuesday as Duke topped the Eagles. DJ Steward scored 17 points and Mark Williams added 13 points as Duke beat Boston College 86-51. In their second game, against Louisville, Williams set season highs with 23 points and 19 rebounds for his second double-double while Matthew Hurt added 20 points in a 70-56 win.
“They were on a roll,” said Jeff Neal. “They were playing well, and I think this gives FSU a huge advantage coming in because I guess they will sit until tomorrow evening.”
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski released a statement saying, in part: “While our season was different than any other that I can remember, I loved the 2020-21 Duke Basketball team and was honored to be their coach. We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are.”
Duke Director of Athletics Kevin White released a statement: “Unfortunately, after going an entire season with no positive COVID-19 tests among our men’s basketball student-athletes and coaching staff, one member of our program tested positive following Wednesday’s ACC Tournament game in Greensboro. After working with our medical professionals and following Duke and ACC Medical Advisory Group health, safety, and contact tracing protocols, the student-athletes on our team are now in quarantine. Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition. As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season. We wish every team still playing college basketball good health and the very best during the next few weeks.”
As the Blue Devils players and coaches end the year with the bitter taste of what could have been for the team, the fans have no doubt.
“Yeah, we had it for sure,” said Mike Craig. “They had it for sure.”