Duke's Far From Dead

By David Scott - February 15, 2007

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – There were smirks and whispers and more than a few pre-mature shovelfuls of dirt tossed on the grave of the 2006-07 Duke University men’s basketball team earlier this week.

Dropping out of the Top 25 for the first time since 1995-96 and losing four in a row will start the vultures a picking at the supposed carcass - especially when the motionless body is wearing blue and black and hails from Durham.

So, it only seemed appropriate when one distinguished member of the media informed Duke’s Greg Paulus after his team’s 78-70 Valentine’s Day win over No. 21 Boston College that the Blue Devils are not dead.

“We never were,” said Paulus, who matched his season-best assist total with seven, while scoring 15 points and pilfering three steals. “We still believe in each other and we don’t pay any attention to that stuff. We wanted to get back on track and to do it against the first place team, at their place, in a hostile environment, it’s a big win for us and hopefully we can build on this one and get things going again.”

Big win doesn’t begin to describe it - season-saving for a program that expects nothing but Sweet 16s and national titles, might.

“Obviously losing four straight is not something we do at Duke, so we needed to come up here and get a win,” said Josh McRoberts, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. “We worry about people in this locker room and nothing that anyone says outside this locker room really matters to us. We prepared well we were on a mission coming up here to try and get a win.”

The mission was to get even in conference play, get a big road win and stop the babble about Duke being dead. What Mike Krzyzewski’s mission didn’t include was “circle the wagons.”

“I think you ‘circle the wagons’ with veteran groups,“ said Coach K, who turned 60 on Tuesday. “That (term) kind of means, you’ve done something before and it’s being taken away from you. These guys haven’t done it before. It’s a different approach. If you go too heavy with them, I think you lose them. We’re trying to keep an even keel throughout and we’ve played so many close games all year.

“We’re still learning . In this league, you’re learning while you go through the league. Hopefully you win enough to put yourself in a position to play in March, which I think we’re doing.”

Same as they always do - whether the vultures are circling or not.

Duke dead? Hardly.

Posted by David Scott at 12:12 AM on February 15, 2007

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