Dec. 30, 2004
There hasn't been that much talk about Duke this season. Down in ACC country, and there are a lot of great teams competing there, North Carolina and Wake Forest have gotten more headlines than the Blue Devils.
Duke is unblemished at 8-0 for the fourth time in five years. The Dukies are playing outstanding defense and have given up 70 points just once this season (in an 81-74 win over Michigan State).
Duke is getting great production from its backcourt tandem of Daniel Ewing and J.J. Redick. Inside, the presence of Shelden Williams has been a big factor on both ends of the court.
Krzyzewski always finds a way to adjust in tough times.
On the sidelines, coach Mike Krzyzewski has one of the great minds in the sport. A young, dynamic staff supports him, and all three assistants wore that Duke uniform -- Johnny Dawkins, Steve Wojciechowski and Chris Collins. They show what the Duke tradition is all about, speaking with great pride about the university.
Duke catches a break with three straight home games -- Clemson on Sunday, then Princeton and Temple, before heading down Tobacco Road to meet NC State on Jan. 13.
As the Blue Devils start their January push, they are going to deal with adversity. The depth of their frontcourt has already been challenged with the absence of Shavlik Randolph, sidelined with mononucleosis. He should miss several ACC games.
A veteran with solid experience, Randolph still could have a breakout season. He has the ability to step away from the basket and hit the jumper or post up inside. He has had special moments, but other times he has seemed to be missing in action.
Randolph needs to be an aggressive, attacking players when he's back in the lineup. For now, Duke will be shorthanded and his minutes will be missed. He provides much-needed size on the interior.
Krzyzewski always finds a way to adjust in tough times. That's the sign of a champion, my friends. He could go with a smaller lineup, or players like Reggie Love will have to step up and contribute more minutes. That's why Coach K is a solid-gold Hall of Famer -- he finds ways to get it done.
Schools in the ACC should not forget about those four letters across the jersey
D-U-K-E. They usually lead to excellence come ACC time.
Dick Vitale coached the University of Detroit and the Pistons before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.