"It was a great game for your conference," said Krzyzewski.
"Yeah. Hey, you guys need any movie tickets?" said Harrick.
But the Blue Devils remained mostly business. They ate dinner in Marina Del Rey on Saturday night, played the game and then caught the red-eye on Sunday night in time to make Monday classes. Oh yes, the Blue Devils did pause after the game to do a team guest shot on Roy Firestone's ESPN interview show, but Duke was within the friendly confines of California for only 34 hours. "Not a lot of time for partying," said Murray.
Not that the Duke players wouldn't have had friends with whom to party. Murray played with Laettner and the Hills (both Grant and Thomas, Duke's 6'5" junior swingman) last summer on the bronze-medal U.S. team at the Pan American Games. MacLean and Hurley palled around at the '89 Olympic Festival. Laettner and UCLA guard Darrick Martin met at Duke during a recruiting visit. UCLA once intimidated teams on name alone; now Duke does. "I don't know any of 'em, but I feel like I do," said Madkins.
One of Krzyzewski's L.A. friends, a TV producer, wasn't quite so generous in his scouting report on the Bruins. "UCLA has two problems," he told Coach K. "Neurological and cardiovascular—no brains, no heart."
In the first half on Sunday, though, neither team exhibited wares to be proud of. At one point the score remained frozen at 16-14 for almost four minutes, and then Duke went without a field goal for nearly four more minutes. On consecutive possessions, UCLA's Sean Tarver shot an air ball and Duke's Kenny Blakeney threw a two-hand overhead pass that sailed into the stands. What was this? The effects of the sun-dappled afternoon outside? Of the UCLA cheerleaders' cat-woman outfits? By halftime Laettner and MacLean had two baskets apiece, their teams had shot a combined 29%, and UCLA took a pitiful 29-24 lead into the locker room.
Duke had handled Hurley's injury exit well. What the Blue Devils weren't handling well was his reentry. They didn't take advantage of their bullwhip on the fast break because they weren't used to his being there. Finally, Krzyzewski simply told his team, "Guys, he's baaaack."
When Hurley joined the race after intermission, and Laettner and Davis began banging bodies, the result was that MacLean got into foul trouble while UCLA's Mitchell Butler (busted lips), Tyus Edney (bruised back) and Tarver (sprained ankle) all came up hurting. "We got what we expected," said Madkins. "They take away a lot of things."
With UCLA ahead 54-50 and Hurley bringing the ball up, Edney, the Bruins' tiny freshman point, made the costly mistake of looking at his bench for instructions. Zip. Hurley drove down the pipe for a lefty layup. At 54-52 Lang's missed free throw was tipped out to Hurley, who fired from behind the three-point arc. Bang, Duke leads 55-54. Moments later, with the score 56-56 and UCLA in a zone, Hurley again let go a trifecta. Swish, Duke 59-56. Duke's poise, confidence, experience and hunger were too much for the Bruins. "We thought of this as an NCAA Sweet 16 game, possibly a Final Four game," Laettner said afterward, "and we want another championship."
Big game, Coach K? Yes.