For the fourth consecutive year, Duke lost in the month of February. And the last three seasons have entailed setbacks to Notre Dame, including last Saturday's 7-3 decision in South Bend, Ind.
But Blue Devils coach John Danowski said he's not worried that the losses are part of a larger trend nor does he plan on adjusting the team's schedule to soften it up.
"We play a great schedule, and teams win or lose," he said Tuesday. "It's Feb. 21, and you can certainly dodge these teams if you want and try to change the schedule. Or you can compete against the best teams possible, and Notre Dame – year in and year out – doesn't lose a lot of games. … They're a terrific team. There's no dishonor in losing to Notre Dame."
Duke has gone 81-20 (.820) in more than five years with Danowski, but only 10-6 (.625) in the month of February. The team has dropped games to Maryland, Penn and Harvard over that span, but Danowski said he has no regrets about scheduling those opponents early in the season.
"Scheduling is a funny thing. You get games when you can get them," he said. "If [Notre Dame coach] Kevin Corrigan calls and says, 'Hey, we've got this date open,' and you say, 'Hey, we've got that date open, too,' let's play. It's not like April 7 is open because they have their conference games. There's no real design. I can't tell you that it's premeditated. You get the games when you can get them, and that's it."
The Blue Devils get a chance to make amends when No. 15 Penn visits Durham, N.C., on Friday night. Danowski hopes that the players will have learned from last week's loss.