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Despite its losses, don't write off Duke

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

June 20
Now that Michael Dunleavy Jr. has decided to stay in the NBA draft, a lot of people have asked me how far Duke will slide next season. Everywhere I go, I'm hearing about the Dukies losing Dunleavy, Jay Williams and Carlos Boozer, baby! Certainly those three would have been legitimate All-Americans. Now they are all gone from the college campus at one time.

Chris Duhon
Chris Duhon led Duke with nearly six assists a game last season.
Wait a minute, fans. Before you get a handkerchief out and cry for Coach K, the Blue Devils are not going to go away that easily. One thing about Mike Krzyzewski, as I have learned about him over the years, his competitive juices are flowing. He feels there is something to prove.

When people write off a program like Duke, that's when it is dangerous. Yes, it is not easy to replace a trio like Williams, Dunleavy and Boozer. But the Blue Devils have a superb recruiting class coming in, and those diaper dandies will be challenged to play as a unit.

Look at what happened to Arizona last season. Early on, there were a handful of veterans teaming up with several talented newcomers. The Wildcats were a solid club last season, getting off to a fast start.

Overall, the Dukies will take a step back, no doubt about it. By the end of the year, they are going to be dynamite. Nobody will step on the floor and say the Blue Devils are down big time by then.

Look at the group coming in, led by Shavlik Randolph, Shelden Williams, Sean Dockery and company. Then look at the experienced nucleus with Dahntay Jones, Chris Duhon and Daniel Ewing; there is a lot of talent in the lineup. The Blue Devils can build this team into something special.

Duke will not be in its usual upper-echelon spot in the preseason top three. This team is still a member of my Dazzling Dozen, capable of challenging in the ACC. I currently rank the Dukies eighth in my latest preseason Dazzling Dozen.

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