OMAHA, Neb.—As I walked into the Duke locker room Sunday night, Trevon Duval was taking a lap around, dapping each of his teammates up as he made his way to his chair with a towel over his head.

I'd seen these emotions before. I was in Greenville, S.C. last March when the Blue Devils were rocked by South Carolina on their way to a second-round exit. So sure, this time around was a completely different scenario—one with new faces more than a thousand miles from where I stood just more than a year ago.

Yet the sadness and shock, the disappointment and frustration, they were the same.

"I gave it all I got and that’s what we’re supposed to do every game," Duval said. "When you give it all you got, it just hurts a lot more knowing that you put it all on the line for your team, even for the University. For us to go out like that, it just sucks."

In those final three poignant, albeit not necessarily eloquent, words, the freshman summed up all the emotions in that small locker room underneath the CenturyLink Center. For a point guard who had about as up-and-down of a season as any Duke player to play arguably his best game of the year and still come up short of a Final Four, that certainly stings.

But it sucks for Grayson Allen, too. The lone senior had a chance to put one in at the buzzer and make at least one more signature moment before his Blue Devil career would come to a close.

And it sucks for Wendell Carter Jr. to play for as long as the freshman did in that second half with four fouls and still make an impact was huge for Duke, and yet, Carter still fouled out with the game in the balance, relegating him to the bench at the game's most crucial juncture.

There is something about finality, especially when it comes so abruptly, that no one can prepare for, even if some form of that feeling will be the way most seasons end.

In three years, my class at Duke has experienced about as little in terms of basketball accomplishments as any group in recent memory. Sure, we may not have the pair of ugly first-round stunners that the Class of 2014 lived through, but like that grade, the Class of 2019 has not witnessed a Final Four and can only celebrate one ACC title and one Elite Eight appearance.

The Class of 2015 would have been similarly disappointing if not for the efforts of senior captain Quinn Cook along with three superstar freshmen, and maybe next season will provide the highest peak of this four-year cycle as well, with the top three recruits in the nation coming to Durham. But there will be no Cook to lead the team with the urgency of one last chance after years of coming up short—reserve big man Antonio Vrankovic will be the Blue Devils' only senior.

For a lot of this team's starters, the highs and lows of a typical four-year career were condensed into one. From Chicago to Clemson to Brooklyn and lastly, Omaha, I've been lucky to get a front-row seat and a ticket to the locker room to witness a wide range of emotions.

The most memorable part of this season, however, was watching a group of freshmen struggle and still find a way to come together at just the right time.

"It was obviously rough at first. There’s so many strong personalities in this locker room and guys that have good egos about their game, and I’m saying that in a positive way," Allen said. "It takes time to get that to blend and mesh. All these guys wanted to do that. All these guys were open to becoming a team, but it takes a while. It’s not something that happens right away. But we did that and I’m very happy to say that we did."

After six long months covering Duke, it's nice to know there is an end. At times, my life would become absorbed by basketball, but that was okay.

Now, my classmates and I will anxiously wait for October, ready to walk back into Cameron for one last go-around. Until then, though, it's hard not to think about what could have been.