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One Devil Of A Team
Curry Kirkpatrick
March 17, 1986
No. 1-ranked Duke charged into the NCAAs after knocking off Georgia Tech for the ACC title
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March 17, 1986

One Devil Of A Team

No. 1-ranked Duke charged into the NCAAs after knocking off Georgia Tech for the ACC title

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This season Driesell has called Bias "the player of the universe" and suspended "Leonard" for breaking curfew one night in Raleigh. Since Feb. 13 Maryland had only been beaten when Bias's punishment caused him to miss a game at Clemson and when Georgia Tech shot 18 for 21 in the second half in College Park.

But then came the semifinals on Saturday, when Tech again employed the kind of slam-bam, instant-shock, sudden-death, reverse-plot device that makes tournament play so wacky and wonderful. The situation was this: Maryland had taken command at 47-41 on a Bias baseline jumper early in the second half, when the defensive effects of the Yellow Jackets' Salley quickly were felt. Bias started missing shots, throwing away passes, looking frustrated. "Just some cheap stuff," Salley semikidded, explaining his tactics. "Banging his forehead, jabs to his stomach. It's kind of hard to jump over me."

Maryland went 9:23, and Bias himself more than 11 minutes, without a field goal as Georgia Tech rallied to take a 62-60 lead. But then Bias did jump over Salley, not to mention the moon, to tie the game with 12 seconds left.

And now the defenses really got serious. First it was Maryland's turn, with the Terps' double-teaming Price as he flashed into the open court; ball to Maryland, five seconds remaining. This time everybody in the building and on all the ships at sea knew where the play was going, and after two timeouts Gatlin set up to pass inbounds to Bias.

But Tech's sophomore forward Duane Ferrell slipped around a screen much the way he had slipped out of his hometown Towson, Md. to Atlanta. He rushed into the top of the foul circle, where, in full stride, he picked off Gatlin's balloon and roared downcourt unmolested for the winning 64-62 dunk.

"Aw, ha-ell. Thirty-one years of coaching and I never lost one like that. I think that was Dalrymple's only basket of the game, too," drawled Driesell, who has had a difficult enough time figuring out his own name this season (Charles or Lefty), much less the correct names of the heroic opposition.

Duke's path to the finals was equally nonroutine, initially blocked by the magic gnome, 5'3" Muggsy Bogues of Wake Forest, whose speed and elusiveness disrupted the Blue Devils' precision (10 assists in a 68-60 defeat) and who received a standing ovation even from that infamous Duke student section, which usually mocks him as Webster.

Duke also needed two late three-point plays from the corrosive Henderson to subdue Virginia 75-70 after the Cavaliers had benefited from a last-second air-ball boulder by N.C. State's Bennie Bolton to hold off the Wolfpack 64-62. "I set up the perfect clinic play, and my guy throws a curve ball," wailed State coach Jim Valvano. "Now I'm like everybody else out there. Tickets! Who needs tickets? I figure I can still make about $500 tonight."

For Duke, though, blood took priority over money. Indeed, the win over Virginia sweetly underscored how far Coach K has taken his senior Devils. Dawkins, Alarie, Bilas, Henderson and reserve Weldon Williams were freshmen on an 11-17 Duke team when Ralph Sampson and the Cavs knocked them out of this same tournament 109-66. "You think we don't remember? You think our names aren't still in the Duke record book for that?" said Bilas.

"Ralph even said we played dirty," recalled Krzyzewski with a laugh last week. "Imagine how bad we'd have been if we had been clean."

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