scholars Said the sarcastic sign that was waved at the UNLV team by the Blue
Devil mascot. "We try to draw off that stuff emotionally," said
Anthony, the vice-chairman of Las Vegas's Young Republicans, who last summer
worked for Nevada Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich in Washington, D.C.
slightly more than 16 minutes left, UNLV led 57-47. In the next 2:51, the
Rebels scored those 18 straight points while Krzyzewski frantically tried to
halt the deluge by calling two timeouts. During the run, Hunt, a 6'1"
sophomore from Detroit, sank two treys and three other baskets. Previously best
known as the rebellious Rebel who had been suspended for a game for being
delinquent in making payments on his student loan, Hunt finished with 29 points
on 12-of-16 shooting and was voted the MVP of the Final Four.
The surprise was
that he had none of UNLV's 16 steals. He didn't need any. Duke committed seven
more turnovers for a total of 23. "This wasn't a game of X's and O's,"
said Krzyzewski. "It was one of complete...domination."
While the Rebels
burned, Tarkanian fiddled most of the second half, undoubtedly wondering how he
could get out of taping an instructional video in Tulsa the next day so that he
could participate in a parade back home in Vegas. Nobody asked him if there
would be a float reserved for the Two Ay.
defeated Loyola Marymount in the West Regional final on March 25, Augmon spoke
about the tournament's morality play, in which his team has had the leading
role. "Good versus bad?" said Augmon. "We don't mind what anybody
thinks of us. The Detroit Pistons were the Bad Boys, too, and look where they
Having ended the
tear-stained run of Team Courage (Loyola Marymount), which had touched the
heart of the nation while playing without its fallen leader, Hank Gathers;
having worn down the tournament's most compelling player, Georgia Tech's
teenage Ninja monster, Kenny Anderson, in the semis; and now facing everybody's
favorite Dookies-next-door, those clean-cut guys from the postcard campus who
had taken all those sentimental (that is to say, losing) journeys to the Final
Four—well, you get the picture. If ever there was a perfectly cast villain, it
was UNLV trying once again to win the NCAA trophy and simultaneously escape
NCAA probation. "Sure, I'll be back next season," said Johnson, in
answer to speculation about whether or not he would jump to the NBA. "If
there are any games."
But wait. As much
as this was a tournament of the buzzer-beaters—28 games won by four points or
less, including five decided in overtime before Monday's blowout—it was also a
season for muddying images. Both Vegas and Duke barely escaped elimination in
regional competition at the hands of those legendary national powers, Ball
State and Connecticut, respectively. And off the court, the Blue Devils may
have forever rid themselves of their boring reputation, while their unangelic
fans were losing their devilish rep.
First, back in
January, Krzyzewski dressed down the student sports staff from the campus
Chronicle in front of his team because the newspaper had dared to write
objectively about the Blue Devils. Of course, the young journalists secretly
taped Coach K's profane outburst. Later Henderson was reprimanded by the ACC
commissioner's office for criticizing a referee, and following Duke's loss to
Georgia Tech in the conference tournament, Henderson ripped into his teammates,
calling them "babies" and "cop-outs." Was this actually Duke or
put up your dukes? Finally, the Blue Devils' notorious student rooters toned
down their harassment of visiting teams (who can forget their enchanting
reference to Navy as "pond scum"?) and because of a new ACC rule had to
cease throwing items onto the court lest Duke be penalized with a technical
Not to worry. The
Blue Devils blew away the other three teams in Denver with lightning-fast
breaks of elocution. Abdelnaby, for example, credited Duke's success to
"the maturation process." A typically cynical national press corps,
having endured far too many charming, sensible, polysyllabic sentences from the
Blue Devil intelligentsia at this event over the years, responded in kind.
"This good-versus-evil story line?" said one writer. "I'm not sold
on it. Duke isn't so evil. Annoying, maybe."
outside the Southeast, the chant of "ACC! ACC!" for member schools Duke
and Georgia Tech must have seemed especially irritating during this Final Four.
Sure enough, Arkansas heard its fill of it as the anticlimactic seconds ticked
off in Duke's 97-83 semifinal victory. Razorback coach Nolan Richardson had
spoken of the "Five P's—preparation prevents piss-poor performance."
But how could Arkansas's Lenzie Howell have been prepared for what he faced
when he went to the foul line with six minutes remaining and his team behind
78-77? Not only did the Duke band sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm ("And on
this farm he had some pigs"), but the Georgia Tech band chimed in with