Duke will play three games in Canada as its preseason exhibition tour this August, which the NCAA allows every four years. Kentucky is also taking its tour this summer, to the Bahamas, before the two teams collide in the Champions Classic to officially kick off the season.
The preseason exhibition games will provide much-needed experience for two of the youngest teams in college basketball; as will the accompanying 10 practices that are permitted in the weeks leading up to the international competition.
But I’m here to call Duke out and demand the NCAA strip Duke of three of its 10 additional summer practices.
You see, Duke was all set to take its exhibition tour last summer until the trip was spontaneously canceled only days before the team and its fans were to depart for the Dominican Republic. Coach K said the reason behind the cancelation was for an unexpected knee surgery, but it was quite a coincidence the team stayed home from the DR as the No. 1 player in America, Marvin Bagley, was scrambling to reclassify and commit to a program.
Duke was scheduled to leave the States as Bagley decided he was ready to make his decision. If you want to believe the Duke staff stayed home for Coach K’s impromptu surgery, you’re more than welcome to believe that or whatever else you’d like. I choose to believe Duke didn’t want to be on an island in the Caribbean as Bagley worked to get cleared for college basketball at the very last minute; while UCLA, USC, Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky were in hot pursuit of Bagley’s commitment.
Whether that is true or not, we’ll probably never know. But we do know Duke got in three of the additional preseason summer practices (allowed only every four years) before canceling the trip. Obviously the NCAA couldn’t make Duke “un-practice” after it decided not to go to the Dominican, but it can take those three practices away from Duke this summer. And it should. If not, teams should schedule a trip every fall, practice 10 times, then cancel before leaving so it never counts against the four-year rule.
And Coach K absolutely called off that trip for Bagley. Change my mind.