Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is a straight shooter, which is why he had no qualms about reminding his upperclassmen just how poorly they have performed against the ACC. The fifth-year seniors are 1-31 in league play, and the seniors are 0-24 but have a chance to improve on that when Virginia visits Durham this weekend in the Blue Devils' conference opener.
"I'm up front with everything," Cutcliffe said. "I don't sugarcoat anything. I tell 'em when they're good and I tell them when they're not good. I tell them what we think about an opponent. I really believe in being honest with your players. If you ever say something that's not true, you completely lose their trust.
"I've never been afraid of that kind of stuff," he said. "Maybe I'm a real bad psychologist, but I'll try to have fun coaching this game and try to make sure the players have fun playing it. Hey, it is the way it is and if we don't like it, let's do something about it."
It's an attitude his players have not only accepted, but welcomed.
"He's a true guy, that's one thing I can say," said senior safety Glenn Williams. "He's every honest. The honesty makes you play better. It helps you out a lot."
Williams joked that before they get too confident about the possibility of winning their first ACC game, the Blue Devils have to "join the ACC first." Duke hasn't had a winning record in the league since 1994, when it finished 5-3 under Fred Goldsmith.
Duke has already surpassed last year's win total with its 2-1 record, and Virginia is in an uncomfortable transition year with a 1-2 record. If anyone knows what it's like to be judged on past performances, though, it's the Blue Devils.
"They are [down], but that doesn't really play too much into how we prepare for them," senior offensive lineman Fred Roland said. "They're still a competitive team we have to take seriously. We can't really use other people's pasts against them, just like people can't underestimate us by our past."