All that's left
Battier looks to cap distinguished career with title
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Shane Battier won't look back if Duke fails to win the national championship in Minneapolis. It's not his style. He lives without regrets.
But an NCAA title is just about the only thing the 6-foot-8 senior forward from Birmingham, Mich., hasn't secured in a spectacular college career with the Blue Devils (33-4).
"I think about it a lot because it's really difficult to attain," Battier said Monday as the Blue Devils prepare to take on Atlantic Coast Conference rival Maryland in the national semifinals Saturday.
"It has been my personal unicorn," he added. "It feels great that it's in my sights now. I don't think I've been as excited to play in a set of games. I've trained for this as hard as I can and that's all I can ever ask of myself."
Battier has been a part of more wins (129) than any player in ACC history. The Blue Devils have won 30 or more games three times during his four years and Duke has been a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs four straight years.
He is also a first-team All-American, an A student, an all-world defensive player, and according to coach Mike Krzyzewski, always plays hard.
Duke has been close to Battier's dream, losing to Connecticut 77-74 in the 1999 title game and falling to Kentucky by two points in the 1998 South Regional final, blowing a 16-point lead with 10 minutes left.
"Whatever you don't do when you achieve a lot will always be the thing that people ask you about, but that's a compliment," Krzyzewski said. "Some people look at it like, `Ah, I have to answer that question?' Yeah, you have to answer that question.
"I don't care if you've won four ACC championships, you've been No. 1, people want to know why you didn't so something else. And that's OK, just don't let that be a burden."
Battier hasn't allowed his final quest to consume him the last few weeks. He's played loose and free and produced some of the best efforts of his career.
He has four double-doubles in Duke's four NCAA tourney games, averaging 23 points and 10.5 rebounds.
"Yeah, we've been joking with him, calling him the `Double-Double Man,'" point guard Jason Williams said.
Williams said he and Battier have talked about the importance of winning it all.
"Shane definitely wants it," Williams said. "Is it going to be something that's he disappointed by if he doesn't get it? Yes, he'll be very disappointed. But when it comes to looking at history, he's somebody who has had a marvelous career whether he wins the national championship or not. "I know I want to do one thing that I couldn't do for Chris Carrawell that I'm in a much better position to do right now, and that's to let Shane go out on top."
No matter what happens in Minnesota over the next week, Krzyzewski knows he's coached the consummate winner. Battier has won 69 of the 76 ACC games he's been involved in and Duke's four-year record is a remarkable 131-15.
Two more wins would give the Blue Devils the best four-year record in NCAA history.
But beyond the wins, Battier has given Duke the intangibles not seen in today's player. He's unselfish, giving, caring and humble. And his best asset is his defense.
"He does play-by-play while the offense is trying to attack us," Krzyzewski said of the two-time national defensive player of the year. "If somebody would have a mike on him you would be amazed at all the things he says to assure that people are in the right spots.
"And then during a stop in the action he gives instant feedback to people like `You did a good job there or next time come over more.' I mean, come on, that just doesn't happen. I've never seen anybody do that. It's incredible to watch, it really is. He doesn't do it on the offensive end because that comes a little harder to him."
Battier laughed when asked why he has no tattoos or earrings.
"I like who I am and the way I look right now," he said. "Plus, if I did, my mother wouldn't let me come home."
Of course, Battier also has the perfect answer when asked why he hasn't shot more or sought offensive glory while at Duke.
"I have received mine in different ways, through caring about my teammates, caring about Duke," Battier said. "I have received much more attention than if I would have just been out for myself. That's just the way I've always lived my life."