For anyone eager to see the crowning of a fresh NCAA champion,
dispiriting news comes in the form of a course offered at Duke
this fall. Three returnees from the defending champions, Carlos
Boozer, Chris Duhon and Jason Williams, sat raptly in Phys Ed
180: Performance Enhancement. The rest of college basketball
might be forgiven for asking, "What's to enhance?" Although the
Blue Devils lost player of the year Shane Battier and consummate
glue guy Nate James to graduation, their holdovers and newcomers
are formidable enough to repeat.
A recent lecture in Phys Ed 180, during which professor Greg Dale
outlined the four stages a group goes through to become a team,
offers a guide to assessing this Duke edition. First, teams form.
Consider the cast the Devils have mustered: the speed and skills
of Duhon and Williams in the backcourt, Boozer's inside muscle at
center and Mike Dunleavy's inside-outside game from the wing. All
four grace the preseason list of 30 Naismith Award finalists. The
new element in the lineup will be swingman Dahntay Jones, a 6'6"
slasher who transferred from Rutgers.
After forming, teams storm, or go through a period of
interpersonal conflict and resistance to control. Though Duke
doesn't have a senior among its regulars, Williams and Boozer are
certain to leave for the pros after this season, and Duhon, Jones
and Dunleavy may well too, which raises the question: Will Duke
turn into a troupe of NBA auditioners all jockeying for a spot at
center stage? One early indication bodes well. "This is Jason's
year," Dunleavy says, "just like last year was Shane's."
Once they've stormed, teams norm, developing solidarity and
cooperation. To do so, Duhon says, "We have to develop the
leadership. We're quicker and more athletic than last year, and
when we develop that leadership, we'll be scary." Even if
Williams and Dunleavy are the team's nominal leaders, Duhon is
certain to range beyond last season's deferential role as a
freshman defensive ace. Also, with Boozer's knack for getting to
the free throw line, look for Duke, which last season set an NCAA
record for most three-point shots made (407), to make a subtle
shift back to the inside game.
With everyone's efforts channeled toward a single goal, teams
ultimately perform. The Blue Devils are sure to do so at an elite
level once more. Whether that's enough to win another
championship will depend on how severely they storm, and how
solidly they norm.
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Dahntay Jones 6'6" Jr. 16.0 ppg*
PF Mike Dunleavy[#] 6'9" Jr. 12.6 ppg
C Carlos Boozer[#] 6'9" Jr. 60.4 FG%
SG Chris Duhon[#] 6'1" So. 7.2 ppg
PG Jason Williams[#] 6'2" Jr. 21.6 ppg
2000-01 record: 35-4
Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 1
*1999-2000 with Rutgers
GRADUATION RATE: 73%
AVERAGE NUMBER OF WINS: 27.4
NCAA TOURNAMENT RECORD: 29-7
MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICANS: 16
PLAYERS IN NBA: 10
COMMENT: Program sustained rare blemish when Corey Maggette
admitted (after turning pro) that he'd accepted illicit benefits
from Nike-funded summer coach Myron Piggie. (The NCAA has yet to
rule on case.) Coach Mike Krzyzewski is reportedly paid $375,000
a year by Nike, which has sponsored numerous coaches involved in
such scandals. Isn't it time Coach K used his prestige to press
Nike to clean up grassroots program?