Thus, the fact that Duke upset the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament semifinals last March—at the time North Carolina was 27-1, unbeaten in the conference and No. 1 in the nation—wasn't the only reason for Smith's message to his charges at their first team meeting this fall. "Remember," he said, "always keep Duke in the backs of your minds."
Smith grew into his career with the Blue Devils as the target. In style, concept and basketball program, Duke was the original Carolina. And a Blue Devil coach, Vic Bubas, was the original Dean Smith—the first of the three-piece-suit organization men who also could round up good athletes and coach the dickens out of them. Bubas was building a dynasty in Durham with three Final Four teams in the mid-'60s, when he quit at the age of 42 to become a Duke vice-president. He's now commissioner of the burgeoning Sun Belt Conference.
And now the Blue Devils are suddenly back, the gauntlet having been retrieved by Krzyzewski, a prot�g� of Smith's old friend Knight. Coach K's favorite advice came from Smith's old rival, Bubas. "Know who you are," Bubas told Krzyzewski. "Don't worry about anybody else or their program [meaning Smith and Carolina]. It's irrelevant."
Well, not quite. Krzyzewski has criticized the "double standard" in the ACC, and he and Smith have had a little mad-on going since they exchanged harsh words during a postgame handshake last year.
"I don't look on it as a feud," says Krzyzewski. "I respect Dean for the competitor he is. Then again, it's not as if we get together socially...to smoke a few cigarettes."
Last week the handshakes were pleasant enough except, of course, that Duke kicked the tar out of the Heels—the 16-point margin was Carolina's worst home defeat in four years. " Duke was supposed to win the league, and now they probably will," said Smith.
"Good. I'll take that as a concession speech," said Krzyzewski.
But don't touch that dial. These guys may shake hands, and their teams may come out smoking a few more times before the season is over.