Duke celebrating second NCAA men's lacrosse title in four years
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Duke celebrated its latest national championship in lacrosse like it had already won one before.
Which makes sense, because some of the Blue Devils already had.
So after Duke beat Syracuse to win its second NCAA title in four years, coach John Danowski had his players remove their championship caps and T-shirts, tone down the party and shake the Orange players' hands with grace and humility.
Danowski said Tuesday that "it just never made sense to me to put on a T-shirt that said, `We beat you"' because "it doesn't seem to be sportsmanlike."
These Blue Devils let their results on the field speak for themselves.
Duke is the only program in Division I to reach each of the last seven Final Fours.
The Blue Devils have made it that far every year since Danowski took over the program in the summer of 2006, and the high point in that run came in 2010 when they won their first national title.
And during the past four years, the freshmen on that team developed into the seniors who delivered a second championship - a 16-10 victory over the Orange after they fell behind 5-0 and appeared headed for their second title-game loss under Danowski.
The win made Danowski the fifth active coach in Division I with multiple national titles.
"I think it proves to everybody that what we do here is right," junior attacker Josh Dionne said. "What coach Danowski preaches to us, the discipline, he makes us mature very quickly. The greatness that he demands of us, that's a bar set so high."
Few expected a second title early in the season, when the Blue Devils lost four of their first six games - including a 16-7 loss to Maryland that came a day after Danowski threw the team off the practice field because the players were lacking energy and sharpness.
"That was the last time that looked like that the day before a game," Danowski said. "One of the lessons that this team had to learn."
By season's end, Duke hardly resembled the team that stumbled out of the gate. The Blue Devils won 14 of their final 15 games, with the only loss coming to rival North Carolina in the ACC championship game.
Duke won its first three NCAA tournament games by a combined four goals, then came up with a timely rally to beat the Orange on Monday and claim another championship trophy.
This one came with a more mellow celebration, after Danowski's request to his team was unknowingly captured by television cameras.
"It just shows everyone who's watching what kind of person coach Danowski is," Dionne said. "It just shows that he is a winner. He knows the values and he's been there and lost so many times that he knows how the other coach feels."
It also marked the latest step forward from the infamous, since-debunked rape case that was brought in 2006 against three players and led to Danowski being hired that summer to replace former coach Mike Pressler.
"I can't help but think we've come full circle here in some ways," Danowski said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd be sitting here. You don't think in terms of wins and losses and championships and sitting here next to the trophy."