A Fine Line
You Heard It Here Last
What classifies a sports season as a success or failure? Stephen A. Smith recently said he believed the Duke basketball season was a failure because while they may have won their conference championship, they failed to even make the final four, let alone win the tournament.
I personally disagree with this sentiment, but it got me thinking. In the years when the Broncos had Peyton Manning, this was the mentality that permeated throughout the organization and the fanbase. We didn’t win the Super Bowl in any of his first three years and each year seemed like a failure because of it.
We were spoiled, and seemed to entirely ignore the records broken, division titles and rapid accumulation of wins unseen by the franchise since the days of John Elway.
When we finally did win it all, it seemed more like a logical conclusion than anything else. But the team immediately fell off and it seems like the fanbase (myself included) would consider a trip to the playoffs a successful season at this point. In college basketball, though, with the one-and-done players cycling through every year, championship windows are a lot smaller. That is why it could be easy to class the Duke season as a failure; they failed to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime talent and a very solid supporting cast and now their window (at least with this group of players) is closed. But I don’t think that makes the season a failure. Duke won a lot of games. They put together a fantastic season. They beat their rival UNC in the conference championship after losing the first two meetings during the regular season.
They also managed to promote the Duke brand through great players, coaching, and ultimately, by winning. This will help them to recruit more high-quality prospects and continue to be a perennially dominant force in college basketball.
However, it’s difficult to classify Duke’s season as a success. The ultimate goal is—after all—to win the big dance and they fell significantly short. But that doesn’t make it a failure.
I think the season should be classified somewhere in the middle, perhaps as merely disappointingly average.
But I’d bet that’s a much tougher assessment to make for a player or a coach than it is for someone on the outside looking in.
Tyler Dean is a senior studying finance and math.