THE DUKE GAME
The coaches know a lot of things have to go right for St. John's to win without Grant. A lot of things do. Thornton, who's actually more of a scorer than a classic shooter, makes 7 of 11 three-point shots and finishes with 40 points. Duke gets its share of help from the officials, but Avery fouls out on a ticky-tacky call, and the Blue Devils play the final 4:27 of regulation and all of overtime without their floor leader. Jarvis has drilled into his team's head the concept of "locating number 21 [Langdon]," and the Johnnies do a good job. Langdon finishes with only two three-pointers and 15 points. For all of Thornton's scoring, it is Attest who makes perhaps the most indelible impression with his late-game heroics. During a 40-second stretch that almost defies belief, he 1) makes a diving steal and calls timeout in midair before falling out-of-bounds; 2) makes another steal and, all in one motion, draws a three-shot foul on the same play; and
3) sends the game into overtime with an off-balance three-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining.
Ultimately, though, depth is the difference, just as Jarvis had warned. Even without Avery and Brand, who fouled out at the end of regulation, Duke has five bona fide offensive options in overtime; St. John's has only Thornton, Artest and perhaps Barkley, who plays a steady all-around game at point guard but lacks a consistent outside shot. Final: Duke 92, St. John's 88.
In the locker room there is understandable grumbling about the refs, but it is muted. "Got the 'Cuse on Wednesday," Thornton keeps saying. "We've got to forget this. Got the 'Cuse on Wednesday."
Jarvis motions the team to a corner of the locker room, pulls up a chair and talks quietly. "You guys played with tremendous emotion, poise and belief," he says. "This game will help us win more games down the road. I'm proud of this team, and you should be proud of yourselves." He smiles. "I know, there's a birthday party tonight, so we're looking for some... some...."
"Moderation," Artest answers.
"Amen," says Jarvis. "Moderation."
MONDAY, JAN. 25, SOMETIME AFTER MIDNIGHT
Grant has chosen for his party site a downtown club where patrons are patted down for weapons as they enter and where Mariah Carey is said to often make the scene. She doesn't on this night, but, at 1:30, Grant finally does. "Hey, I don't have any classes on Monday," he says. Center Albert Richardson and Thornton, accompanied by Baltimore homeboy Sam Cassell of the New Jersey Nets, are already studying the beautiful people inside the club, but Barkley is among a small group of St. John's players and managers morosely congregated outside.
"They won't let me in," Barkley says. Twelve hours earlier, in one of the world's basketball meccas, this freshman had played in one of the best college basketball games in recent history. Super-fan Spike Lee had worn a number 12 St. John's jersey bearing Barkley's name. But none of that matters on the club scene if you're not 21.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27, SYRACUSE PREGAME
Jarvis is trying to convince his team in the locker room that getting two points in a spacious Dome is no different from getting them back at Alumni Hall, St. John's on-campus gym. "The hardest time to shoot at a place like this is right now, when there's no one in it," says the coach. "It'll get warmer when the fans start packing in. And, remember, these big, wide-open facilities are the kind where they hold tournament games."
The team seems a little tighter than it had been on Sunday at the Garden. Suddenly a persistent ringing disturbs the quiet. Thornton and backup point guard Collin Charles stare at each other before they begin rustling through their clothes in search of their cell phones. It turns out to be for Charles. You may recall that cell phones helped drive Magic Johnson out of coaching, but Jarvis accepts them as a way of life. "I have one, too," he says, "so I'd be a hypocrite to say my players can't"