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? Virginia (17-11), which didn't get an NCAA bye, exited the ACC tournament ignominiously, especially guard Othell Wilson. He drew a technical foul for bumping referee Joe Forte early in the second half against Wake Forest and charged after Forte when the game ended. Coach Terry Holland had suspended Wilson early in the season for losing his cool on the court.
? Duke (24-9) beat Carolina with a defense that coach Mike Krzyzewski, who pronounces his name shushef-skee and mercifully lets his players call him Coach K, swears by: a halfcourt prekrzure man-to-man that has become the Blue Devils' trademark. In 1982-83 that doctrinaire D often did in Duke. Krzyzewski acknowledges that he could've won a few more games last season by using a zone in certain situations, and at least one player criticized his inflexibility.
Back then Duke also had three seniors, all of whom had been recruited by Bill Foster, Krzyzewski's predecessor and a zone-oriented coach, and all of whom had been first-stringers. They didn't like seeing four freshmen starting in their stead. The Devils found themselves split into two camps. A few of the seniors even took to barking in the locker room in mock reference to their status.
This season, with 14 of their last 16 games decided by five points or fewer and/or in OT, the young Devils have been whipped into a unit. The nucleus includes guard Johnny Dawkins, Krzyzewski's first blue-chip recruit; guard Tommy Amaker, whose development has let Dawkins move off the point and who buried a 20-footer with eight seconds left to beat Georgia Tech 67-63 in the first round; Alarie, who averaged 20.1 points in conference play to make first-team all-ACC and outplayed Perkins with 21 points on Saturday; Dan Meagher, the bruising junior from Canada with the Wayne Gretzky hairdo; and Henderson, a poor man's Michael Jordan.
The ACC's unusual strength was a popular topic of conversation, if not debate, in Greensboro. Asked which he thought were the country's toughest conferences, Veal said, " ACC, ACC and ACC, in that order." Indeed, never had the conference's regular season been studded with so many overtime games (nine). And the ACC is the only league in which each team finished regular-season play with a record of better than .500. Every conference school but Clemson has been in someone's Top 20 at one time or another. The league's non-conference record was a phenomenal 100-11 (.901), and all of the losses were to NCAA-or NIT-bound teams.
There was a time, Driesell said, when he'd ready his screwdriver for each ACC tournament. "I was going to get my car down here, screw that trophy to the hood and drive around North Carolina for two weeks," he said. "But I'm too old for that now." But on Friday he let something slip. What, he was asked, would winning it mean to him?
"Answered prayers," he said.
When it was over, the Maryland pep band played the Amen chorus.