Okay, what next? Shaved heads? Rationed pork rinds and gruel? Pre-dawn reveille? Forced marches to -- ugh! -- Chapel Hill? Surely the Duke Blue Devils are in for some kind of additional punishment, considering the results of their most recent discipline.
As you may have heard -- it was all over the Pentagon, banner headlined in Stars And Stripes; Don Rumsfeld thought he might copy the trick -- ever since Kapitan K totally humbled his troops, the troops have totally humiliated the opposition. Essentially, stripping the Dookies of the engraved nameplates over their lockers, the action pictures off their walls and the very chairs from under their weary bodies -- which is exactly what Mike Krzyzewski did following that shocking 77-76 loss to Florida State a couple of weeks ago -- has re-invigorated the NCAA’s once and future rulers.
Not that they weren’t going to defeat Georgia Tech and N.C. State anyway. But 26-6 on the way to 104-79 against the Yellow Jackets? (K earned his first technical foul in that one, slammed his clipboard to the wood with a 34-point lead, and shook hands with the Tech coaching staff so viciously they almost had to check for broken bones.) Or 76-57 over the Wolfpack, in which Mike Dunleavy outscored the entire State team in the first half, 22-21?
Those were mere appetizers in Duke’s twin-peaked, 48-hour feast of last Thursday and Saturday during which the nameplate-less and chair-deprived Devils rocked both Maryland and then Wake Forest, 202-158. That’s combined, of course, in a Punkarama that -- with the other usual suspect, North Carolina, having turned into a soccer school -- means Duke (16-1, 5-1 in ACC) has just about wrapped up the ACC regular season already.
"We’re starting over ... refocusing," Jason Williams said somewhere in there, before he accomplished one of his characteristic takeovers by dropping a 34-point, 8-assist, 7-rebound masterpiece on the Terps in a game that was a masterpiece itself (30 lead changes in the first 23 fascinating minutes) -- until J-Will and the formerly skinny, sand-kicked, now power forward, Dunleavy (19 points in the second half) buried the Terps with offense and the unheralded transfer from Rutgers, Dahntay Jones, shut off Maryland’s Duke-killer, Juan Dixon, holding him to a mere 10 points.
The Duke and Maryland participants didn’t even shake hands or look each other in their fiery eyes before they engaged in their fifth soap opera in two seasons -- can we hope for three more in 2002? -- continuing the Blue Devils’ collective nasty mindset since their perfect season was ruined in Tallahassee.
Not long after that hiccup: "Everybody has been disrespecting us ... saying we’re not tough ... calling us soft," Duke guard Chris Duhon told writers who politely did not follow up with "Say what?" but were almost as perplexed as Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt.
"They won the national championship ... they’ve got the player of the year [Williams] ... I know I have a lot of respect for them," said Hewitt. "Maybe they need to contrive some things to get themselves motivated after that [FSU] game."
Krzyzewski himself reacted to the contrivance, uh, the loss, by closing himself off to the media -- other than weekly conference calls and post-game briefings. Then, of course, he contrived to steal away with all those nameplates and pictures and chairs. (Don’t ask where Cameron security was.) As for the disrespect, the rumor that both Seton Hall -- which had nearly pulled off an upset in Hawaii -- and Florida State had murmured something about Duke’s "softness" was believed by absolutely nobody -- except apparently the Devils themselves.
To wit, when the Georgia Tech team dared to gather at center court, standing atop the Duke logo before the national anthem, Blue Devil center Carlos Boozer pointed and screamed at the whole Jacket team. Think C-Boo was PO’d he couldn’t sit down in the locker room?
To wit -- two: On Saturday when the Wake Forest game was still a contest, the perhaps still-incensed Boozer (20 points, 18 rebounds) bullrushed the Deacons’ point guard, Broderick Hicks, on a loose ball, practically crashing him into the Cameron Crazies and ultimately out of the game with a deep thigh bruise. "WHOA! WHOA! I GOT ONE EYE AND EVEN I CAN SEE THAT [was a foul]!" roared even Dick (Dukey) Vitale when Boozer was not whistled for any violation.
On the previous play, after Wake’s inside star, Darius Songaila, was called for a cheapie foul and sassed the referee, he was called for an even cheaper technical foul and was promptly removed from the game by Deacons coach Skip Prosser. With both Hicks and Songaila unavailable -- what, did the Deacs think they’d get a break? What, like the Raiders in the snow? -- Wake Forest disintegrated from a 33-all tie at 8:08 to a 49-61 deficit at halftime, as the finally-feeling-his-athletic-oats Jones continued to dominate the proceedings, scoring 18 of his 22 total points.
Prosser kept Songaila on the bench until about 12 minutes were left, whereupon he re-entered, spun into the lane several times and singlehandedly cut Duke’s lead to 76-73. But as close as Wake came -- all hail the remarkable quick-strike killer instinct of the champs -- that’s where the Deacons stopped. Snap ... Crackle ... Pop. Williams drove to the iron, scored and drew Songaila’s fourth foul; as the Deacs’ powerful Lithuanian had to take the pine again, Duke started on a 16-point run and the game was over.
As the two teams left the court following another Duke 103-80 blowout, Krzyzewski stopped for some consoling words with the wounded Hicks.
Lucky for Wake -- or maybe unlucky -- the Kapitan didn’t rip the poor kid’s name right off his jersey.
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