| ||Sunday, November 14|
|NEW YORK -- Jason Williams has been at Duke for two games in two days and he's already carrying the burden of the storied program.
"Everybody says we're young, but we're 0-2 and that's not something we're used to here at Duke," Williams said after the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. "We've got to work our butts off to get better."
And this Duke team has only two players -- wing Chris Carrawell and forward Shane Battier -- who played significant minutes during last year's national runner-up season.
The loss to Stanford Thursday night was sloppy but it was in overtime. Williams overpenetrated and got into trouble in the lane. Friday night, he got more players involved, calmed down and had his wind later in the game defensively.
Battier proved he can be a go-to player with three 3-pointers and 15 points, and freshman Mike Dunleavy Jr., a lanky 6-7 wing, showed he can be a shooting guard by hitting three 3s for 11 points in 24 minutes. He also scored points for his grit, playing on a freak turned ankle when he stepped on a ball during warmups.
"I've been through this with my dad," said Dunleavy of being the ultimate optimist -- an NBA coach's son. "He was 2-5 in his first year with the Lakers and the fans were crazy to fire him. Then they went to the finals."
The Blue Devils' defensive effort, especially on the perimeter (when Williams wasn't spent) gave Mike Krzyzewski plenty to praise. If freshman Carlos Boozer (nursing a rehabilitated broken foot) can produce in the post, and hard-working-but-limited veteran Matt Christensen and lean frosh Nick Horvath are reduced to spot minutes, the Blue Devils will compete for a deep run in March.
For now, they'll get healthy against Army and Columbia in the next two weeks before another brutal stretch from Nov. 27 to Dec. 11 that features games against USC at the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Illinois in Chicago as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, DePaul at home and on the road at Michigan.
"This is my 20th year at Duke, so I know we'll be all right, unless you ask my athletic director and he's one of those fair-weather guys," Krzyzewski said in jest. "We'll only get better by playing good people. We wanted to play two outstanding teams here and we did. We lost both of them and now we have to figure out how we could have won."
Developing Boozer's confidence is a start. He scored 22 points in an exhibition last week. He scored a pair in 11 minutes against the Cardinal on Thursday and three in 11 minutes Friday. He's coming off a broken foot, a similar injury that set back Elton Brand two years ago.
"(Carlos) doesn't have the explosion right now in his game," Krzyzewski said. "Carlos doesn't have the reference point Elton did but I don't want his confidence to go down because of that. He's a key guy for us."
Even with Boozer, Duke couldn't equal Stanford's Collins twins. Jason and Jarron, playing together for only the 10th time in three years because of injuries to Jason, led the Mark Madsen-less Cardinal to the championship over Iowa with a combined 35 points and 22 rebounds Friday night.
"We just play basketball," Jarron said. "That's what we do and we've been doing it since we were six years old."
Stanford can take advantage of Jason's 6-11 frame and Jarron's offensive touch when they face Auburn and Mamadou N'diaye on Nov. 27, even without Madsen.
"This was pretty good," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "We had some questions on how we would respond without Mark in there, mainly because of the emotional leadership he gives us. We didn't question our abilities, though."
Neither did Connecticut or Iowa, which scored the upset of the tournament Thursday night. The Huskies' loss to the Hawkeyes had to do with attitude and effort, not talent. The trend carried over early Friday when Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun suspended freshman Doug Wrenn and senior Souleymane Wane for violations of team rules.He didn't need them in the second straight win over Duke (the last one being in St. Petersburg last March). Former forward Kevin Freeman played the perimeter for 40 minutes and scored 15 points and 11 rebounds and Albert Mouring poured in 22 points, including five 3s.
"I'm not speaking for Mike (Krzyzewski) but both teams were searching out for what they are," Calhoun said. "We're fortunate that a couple of our guys are a little bit further along."
But two games in, a 1-1 Connecticut and an 0-2 Duke aren't cause enough for alarm on either campus.
Fancy meeting you here: UConn tops Duke for third place