Rewriting of the story of Duke’s basketball season

We often judge our experiences by how we feel in the most intense moment and at the end of an experience. This is known as the peak-end rule, a common psychological heuristic. After an incredible season of ups and downs in roller coasters, we can not allow ourselves to fall victim to this trend. This year can not be determined by the result of the last match, but rather by the collective memory we share about the season. We are still controlling how we experience the end of this season and heartache should not be the last thing we remember.

It’s easy to give in to Saturday night’s anguish and grief. It is easy to embellish in the anger and confusion of the surrounding factors (read: imaginary mistakes). It is easy to think of the pain of not achieving what we dreamed but not biting into the low-hanging fruit.

We are students going to university where Mike Krzyzewski has brought 5 championships, 13 Final Fours, 15 ACC tournament titles, 13 ACC Regular Season Championships and over 1200 victories over 42 years. During this journey, Coach K’s incredible coaching talent, along with his fiery personality and devilishly handsome appearance, have captivated Duke students and inspired both students and athletes to be more passionate. And as the students left Duke to pursue their careers, their passion and love for Duke Basketball remained. As primaries among other graduates spread around the country, Coach K’s greatness began to transcend the boundaries of our campus. Year after year, students join their fellow graduates in strong, global communities that come together to support Duke every basketball season. Coach K’s legacy of greatness is not built on the championship banners he has hung up – it is built through the basketball program he has built and the community he has fostered at Duke.

This year had countless highlights to report on. It started with Countdown to Craziness when students stood in line for over 8 hours to get tickets. That experience could not be compared to the madness of camping this year. If you were lucky enough to pass the entrance exam, you got to experience the strong camaraderie in KVille. From Cookie Monster slander to late night singing, the harsh winter and pandemic could not dampen our spirits. Even when the team left campus, the attendance increased by 54% #DukeEffect.

The off-season also provided countless highlights. The ACC Conference Tournament brought us basketball over the spring break. The revival of the Krafthouse as a premier March Madness location brought new levels of energy and community that first and second years have never experienced because of Covid. This energy was contagious as it got the Duke’s Administration to host parties and events across campus to promote the spirit campus. This culminated in DSG’s darty on the Abele Quad, which represented the beginning of a new era of social life on campus.

In addition to the community that Coach has helped us build, this year’s men’s basketball team deserves to be celebrated independently. Mark Williams’ dominance inside the paint left students with almost a concussion with how much they hit the top of their heads. He shut down the big opponents and got the ACC Defender of the Year. Paolo Banchero became the first college player to be in the NBA2K, was this year’s ACC Rookie and will be a top 3 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Wendell Moore Jr. has emerged as the country’s best little striker, showing his leadership and balance when he was captain of our team this year with Joey Baker. Jeremy Roach left opponents in the dust with his finishing ability and explosiveness around the rim. AJ Griffin embodied resilience to fight back from injury and finished as a reliable and hard-working component in late game lineups. Trevor Keels brought “Keel Mode” through light-off shooting and bullying of opponents in the paint. Theo John was our source of maturity and toughness on the field and a necessary source of strength. Michael Savarino brought the academic duality and received the NCAA’s Elite 90 Award. Our bench, composed of Jaylen Blakes, Bates Jones, Keenan Worthington, Spencer Hubbard and Stanley Borden, was invaluable in ways that the rest of us were not always able to see. Whether it was working incredibly hard during training, providing insight during film review or just holding their teammates accountable, each of these players contributed to their team’s success. These student-athletes gave us everything this season and their work has not gone unnoticed.

The same recognition goes to the students who supported the team. From the basketball managers, the band, the cheerleaders and the dance teams that performed, there were so many people who made this year memorable for all of us. The countless members within the university who coordinated logistics for student events were also invaluable. Loving Duke Basketball does not just mean you love the players or the coach – it means you love everyone in our Duke community. We all share in this season’s ups and downs, but the strength of our community is the reason our heads will never be kept low.

The biggest challenge is figuring out how to move forward. During these final weeks on campus, you can take the time to find comfort in the communities that have been built and strengthened throughout the year. Challenge the peak-end heuristics by sharing and enjoying memories both sad and happy, so that together we can rewrite the narrative of this ending.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the men’s basketball team is still made up of our peers. We will still see each other in class, get food and on campus. Remember to treat the players as the people they are. They exist not only to bring us victories, they deserve our unconditional love and support for their commitment to play for and represent our Duke community. Be kind, be grateful and allow yourself to enjoy all the great things that happened this year.

We had a lot to cheer about this year, and also a lot to cry over. It is through ups and downs that we lean on each other and power our way through. DDMF.

The Community editorial staff is independent of the editorial staff of The Chronicle. Their column runs on Tuesday.

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