Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tudor's take: Counting chickens

INDIANAPOLIS -- As Duke went through Sunday’s Final Four ritual of media interviews, it was easy to draw some comparisons to 1983 and N.C. State.

Against Butler (33-4) on Monday in the NCAA title game at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Blue Devils (34-5) have been made a 7-point favorite.

There’s a feeling, even among some Butler faithful, that a minor miracle would be needed for Duke to lose.

It’s much the same talk that marked State’s ’83 bid against mighty Houston in Albuquerque, N.M. Almost no one gave Jim Valvano’s team a chance.

The Wolfpack won it 54-52, and it did take a minor miracle at the end when Lorenzo Charles turned a Dereck Whittenburg air ball into the winning basketball. That game still rates among the most shocking in NCAA history.

But no one has a better appreciation of basketball history than Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was good friend of Valvano. You can bet Duke’s players will be reminded of that night in New Mexico at least a couple of times before they take on Butler.

Duke’s players made certain Sunday not claim the trophy early, something Houston’s players flirted with doing the day before they faced State.

“They play as hard as anyone and this is going to be a hard game, very hard,” Duke forward Lance Thomas said.

Kyle Singler: “We completely respect Butler. No one on our team is going to overlook them at all.”

The last huge championship game upset was Villanova over Georgetown in 1985 at Lexington, Ky. The Hoyas were favored by eight, but the situation was different from Butler-Duke and State-Houston.

Villanova and Georgetown, both Big East teams, were totally familiar with each other.

“We had the advantage of scouting them several times in regular season,” Villanova coach Rollie Massimino said shortly before Butler’s win over Michigan State in Saturday’s semifinal round.

State was able to surprise Houston in 1983 by using Thurl Bailey to attack the baseline early in the game. When Houston made defensive adjustments, the Pack turned to its dependable perimeter shooting.

Defensively, Valvano seldom gave the Cougars the same look on three straight possessions. Houston was uncomfortable throughout and never generated any offensive momentum.

Butler could beat Duke, but it will not be the result of surprise tactics. Krzyzewski will have his players prepared for everything Butler has done during and before the tournament.

-- Caulton Tudor, staff columnist


Anonymous said...

Go Heels!

@jlandrews said...

Duke will be focused, but it will take a strong performance to beat a strong and determined Butler team essentially playing at home.
It will be another great night of basketball to watch!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sounds like another UNC fan wanting Duke to lose. I wonder if the tarheel mascot will show up at the game to get on camera to pick Coach K up when Duke wins. That happened at the ACC football championship at halftime when the fans played for cash. Coach K 4 titles, Ole Roy 2.

Anonymous said...

You know the tarhole fans will be going to bed early tomorrow night if duke is up big at halftime.I'm sure the heel faithful need their rest as they have been partying it up after celebrating their NIT final 4 :) Duke back to back 1992 and 1993.......back to back 2010/2011.

Anonymous said...

GO, DUKE!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

" You shut up! Your all losers anyways. Go Heels!"

"your'e" (not your) is the first correction.

I like the comment though; "you shut up!" Gimme my ball! I am going home" Mommy they took my jawbreaker away! They were mean to me, but I told them! I told them to shut up while I was running back home. They are so mean!