Rewriting the narrative on Duke’s basketball season

Often, we judge our experiences based on how we feel at 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 roller coaster highs and lows, we can’t let ourselves fall victim to this tendency. This year cannot be determined by the score of the last game, but rather by the collective memory we share of the season. We still control how we experience the end of this season, and heartbreak should not be the last thing we remember.

It’s easy to give in to the anguish and sorrow of Saturday night. It’s easy to embellish in anger and confusion of the surrounding factors (read: imaginary fouls). It’s easy to think about the pain of not achieving what we dreamt, but don’t bite at the low hanging fruit.

We are students that attend the university where Mike Krzyzewski has brought 5 championships, 13 Final Fours, 15 ACC tournament titles, 13 ACC Regular Season Championships and over 1200 wins in the span of 42 years. Throughout this journey, Coach K’s incredible coaching talent, along with his fiery personality and devilishly good looks, enraptured Duke students and inspired students and athletes alike to be more passionate. And as students left Duke to pursue their careers, their passion and love for Duke Basketball remained. As watch parties among fellow graduates spread around the country, Coach K’s greatness began to transcend beyond the boundaries of our campus. Year after year, students join their fellow graduates in strong, global communities that come together to support Duke each basketball season. Coach K’s legacy of greatness isn’t built upon the championship banners he’s hung –– it’s built through the basketball program he’s constructed and the community he’s fostered at Duke.

This year had countless peaks to recount. It started with Countdown to Craziness when students waited in line for over 8 hours to get tickets. That experience didn’t compare to the madness of tenting this year. If you were lucky enough to pass the entry test, you got to experience the strong camaraderie within KVille. From Cookie Monster slander to late night sing-alongs, the harsh winter and pandemic couldn’t dampen our spirit. Even when the team left campus, opponent attendance increased 54% #DukeEffect.

The post-season also provided countless highlights. The ACC conference tournament brought us basketball over spring break. The revival of Krafthouse as a prime March Madness watch location brought new levels of energy and community that first and second years have never experienced due to Covid. This energy was infectious, as it prompted Duke’s Administration to host parties and campus-wide events to promote spirit campus. This culminated in DSG’s darty on Abele Quad, representing the beginning of a new era of social life on campus.

Beyond the community that Coach has helped us build, this year’s men’s basketball team is something that deserves to be celebrated independently. Mark Williams’ dominance inside the paint left students with near concussions with how much they slapped the top of their heads. He shut down opposing bigs, earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Paolo Banchero became the first college player to be in NBA2K, was the ACC Rookie of the year and will be a top 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Wendell Moore Jr. has emerged as the Nation’s Top Small Forward, showcasing his leadership and poise as he captained 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 battle back from injury and finished as a reliable and hardworking component of late game lineups. Trevor Keels brought “Keel Mode” through lights-out shooting and bullying opponents in the paint. Theo John was our source of maturity and toughness on the court and a needed source of strength. Michael Savarino brought the academic duality, earning NCAA’s Elite 90 award. Our bench, composed of Jaylen Blakes, Bates Jones, Keenan Worthington, Spencer Hubbard and Stanley Borden, were invaluable in ways that the rest of us weren’t always able to see. Whether it was working incredibly hard during practice, providing insights during film review or simply holding their teammates accountable, each of these players contributed to the success of their team. These student-athletes gave us their everything this entire season, and their work has not gone unnoticed.

That 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 that coordinated student event logistics were invaluable as well. Loving Duke Basketball doesn’t simply mean that you love the players or the coach ––it means that you love everyone in our Duke community. We all share in the highs and lows of this season, but the strength of our community is why our heads will never be held low.

The greatest challenge is figuring out how to move on. In these final weeks on campus, take time to find comfort in the communities that have been built and strengthened throughout the year. Challenge the peak-end heuristic by sharing and reveling in memories both sad and happy so that collectively, we can rewrite the narrative on this ending.

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the men’s basketball team is still composed of our peers. We will still see each other in classes, getting food and on campus. Remember to treat the players like the humans they are. They don’t just exist to bring us wins, they deserve our unconditional love and support for their commitment to playing for and representing our Duke community. Be kind, be thankful and allow yourself to enjoy all of the great things that happened this year.

We had a lot to cheer for this year, and a lot to cry about too. It is through the highs and lows that we lean on each other and power through. DDMF.

The Community Editorial Board is independent from the editorial staff of The Chronicle. Their column runs on Tuesdays.

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