HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - No team in the country is more fun to watch than the Duke Blue Devils. And it’s not even close.
From the pre-game warm up dunk contest to the electric atmosphere from the Cameron Crazies that travelled all the way from Durham to Lahaina and everywhere in between, the Blue Devils had the entire country watching and they knew it.
But in reality, it really didn’t matter. They were going to put on a show regardless of who packed the auditorium on Monday afternoon.
Freshmen R.J. Barrett was a picture of consistency, finding his range from perimeter while finishing at the basket through contact with ease. Zion Williamson, at times in the first half, seemingly drew triple-teams on the perimeter from San Diego State’s defense, leaving fellow freshmen teammates Tre Jones and Cam Reddish open to make plays.
Williamson didn’t need to shoot 82 percent from the field, nor pull down double-digit boards and score 25 points. In fact, his presence alone drew excitement from the crowd in attendance as evidenced by the roaring cheers when his name was called during the introductions for the starting lineups.
The star power of Duke’s starting lineup was enough to sell out the 2018 Maui Invitational all while driving up resale prices of tickets - which were sold to fans who travelled to Lahaina empty-handed.
Hawaii News Now spoke with multiple basketball fans and families who flew to Maui specifically for this tournament, and none of them had tickets. It was a risk worth taking by many, no matter how fiscally irresponsible and nonsensical that may seem.
But perhaps that sense of spontaneity is a direct result of the unpredictable nature of this explosive Duke team, that remains steadfast and humble in its approach to gameday.
Talks of an undefeated season will surely radiate through the halls of the Lahaina Civic Center if the Blue Devils take down No. 9 Auburn on Tuesday and, if fortune favors Gonzaga, the No. 3 team in the country in a proposed championship game.
By Wednesday night, it’s very possible that Duke would have wins over former No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Gonzaga and No. 9 Auburn through just six games this season.
That’s a resume that speaks for itself.
Enjoy the highlights and breakaway dunks while you can. This Blue Devils team won’t be around forever. In fact, it more-than likely will be over after this season. College basketball’s most exciting team is Duke, thanks to a bunch of teenagers that play above their age.
Duke will take on Auburn Tuesday at 3 pm HT at the Lahaina Civic Center.