Branded by Duke
The Blue Devils left an indelible impression on upstart Maryland
Duke Junior forward Chris Carrawell walked out of the visitors' locker room at Maryland's Cole Field House on Sunday holding an ice bag to his face. His right eye was purple and puffy thanks to an inadvertent poke he had received from Terps forward Laron Profit, but the injury didn't stop Carrawell from saying hello to NBA agent David Falk, who was standing in the hallway. " Mike Tyson's waiting for you," Falk said as the two shook hands.
Tyson might be able to give the Blue Devils a fight, but it doesn't appear that a lot of other folks can. Second-ranked Duke took No. 4 Maryland's best shot and dispatched the Terrapins with stunning ease, holding them to 27 second-half points in an 82-64 win that ran the Blue Devils' record to 13-1. The Terps' faithful, acutely aware that this is Maryland's best team in years, had expected an exciting game, and rumor had it that Tiger Woods and Cal Ripken Jr. would be in attendance. Instead the Terrapins got another humbling from the hated Dookies as Woods's caddie, Fluff Cowan, and Cal's brother Billy watched.
What a letdown. The Blue Devils have now won 27 of their last 32 meetings with Maryland, including 12 of the last 14 at Cole. Sunday's game dropped Terps coach Gary Williams's record against Duke's Mike Krzyzewski to 2-18, a statistic that those close to Williams say is driving him to distraction. "Earlier this season there were some good things said about our team," Williams said after falling to the Blue Devils. "Now there will be some things said that we don't like. We have to use it to our benefit."
There's something to be said for learning from disappointment Duke's only defeat this season was a 77-75 loss to then No. 15 Cincinnati at the Great Alaska Shootout on Nov. 28. The Bearcats converted 57.1% of their field goal attempts in that game, and the Blue Devils had only four steals. Before that loss, Krzyzewski had dedicated much of Duke's practice time to half-court offense, but he decided afterward to shift his focus to defense. The Blue Devils have won all eight of their games since, including a 71-60 decision over then No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 22. "We weren't a good half-court offensive team last year, and I wanted to fix that," says Coach K. "But I found out in Alaska that we weren't that good a defensive team. Now we are."
That was much in evidence on Sunday. Maryland, which had come into the game averaging 90.4 points, sixth best in the nation, made just two field goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Blue Devils broke a 37-all tie and surged to a 61-44 lead. Senior guard Trajan Langdon guarded Steve Francis, the Terps' leading scorer, in the early going, but late in the first half Krzyzewski gave that assignment to Carrawell, who has three inches and 25 pounds on the 6'3" Francis. The move worked so well that even Krzyzewski seemed surprised. Asked to comment on the fact that Francis scored only one of his 11 points in the second half, Coach K replied, "I don't know how that happened, really."
The Blue Devils also got another outstanding performance from sophomore center Elton Brand, who lost his starting job for two games in December because Krzyzewski felt he wasn't being aggressive enough. Brand followed up a 22-point, eight-rebound game against Kentucky with a 19-point, 13-rebound, four-block effort on Sunday.
The only woes Krzyzewski appears to be having these days stem from a severely arthritic left hip, which forces him to walk with a pronounced limp. When it became apparent this fall that he would need the hip replaced, Krzyzewski scheduled surgery for April 5, five days after the national title game will be played in St. Petersburg. Seems he figured he'd probably be busy until then.
The Eagles Have (Splat!) Landed
What's going on in Ypsilanti? Last March, Eastern Michigan was on the rise, having won the Mid-American Conference tournament to earn its second invitation to the NCAA tournament in the last three seasons. Ten months later the Eagles, 0-11 through Sunday, were one of only four teams in Division I without a victory. "We didn't truly appreciate what we had until it was gone," says coach Milton Barnes. "Now we're starting over. These aren't growing pains we're experiencing—these are the labor pains of a team being reborn."