Ghosts of Duke forwards past haunt, but don't scare, Davis


DURHAM, N.C. -- The sight of Duke's Brian Davis on a basketball court evokes memories of Billy King or David Henderson or Robert Brickey.

After all, Davis, a 6-foot-6 junior from Capitol Heights, Md., is of the same lean build as his predecessors at the small forward slot.

Like the aforementioned, Davis is the most athletic player on the Blue Devils. He plays adhesive-type defense -- he often sticks to his man like rubber cement.

Still, Davis is more than a little wary of being compared to King, Henderson or Brickey, who were defensive legends here but also were limited offensively.

"There have been so many great players here in the past that if you have any similarities or favorable tendencies in your game, ,, they will try to compare you," said Davis.

As an example, Davis points to teammate Christian Laettner, who always has been compared to former Duke great Danny Ferry.

"They compare Christian and Danny where they are worlds apart," said Davis, who is working to ensure that no one thinks of him as the next King, Henderson or Brickey.

"The more minutes I have, the better I'll perform," he said. "The coaches have shown me a lot of confidence and said take the shot when it's there."

He had a career-high 18 points in Duke's loss to Georgetown earlier this season. Although Davis is only sixth on the team in scoring with a 7.6 average, the points have come in important places for No. 6 Duke, which is at home against Maryland tomorrow at 1 p.m.

"The coaches tell me that scoring is not going to happen for me, because the team isn't built around me," said Davis, who had a team-high nine rebounds in last night's 86-74 win over Virginia. "So the things that I get, I have to make them happen, and I think I've done that to a large extent this year."

Davis has been coming off the bench for most of his career, but doesn't mind that role at Duke.

"Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] calls me a finisher," he said. "In most of the games that we've played, I may not have started, but I've finished every game and I've been in the top five in minutes."

That Davis is even a part of the Duke program, which has visited the Final Four in four of the last five years, is a surprise to many because he missed 11 games in his senior season at Bladensburg High because of assorted injuries.

Davis was largely ignored by most big-time schools, something he attributes to "the politics of basketball."

"A lot of people didn't know if I could play because they never came to see me play," said Davis. "A few guys who did come to see me play knew I could play at Duke and people who never saw me play said, 'Why is Brian Davis going to Duke? He's never going to play.'

"I played against these guys most of my life, so I know I'm as good and I know I can play. So I never had any doubts that I could play here. Coach never had any doubts."

Krzyzewski calls Davis "a people person" and the team's "best communicator on and off the court."

Davis is a thoughtful, well-spoken individual who has done internships with U.S. Sen. Terry Sanford (D-N.C.) and with the Discovery Channel, a Landover-based cable network. He also does commentaries on an FM station in Durham.

Davis plans to run for a post in student government next year and aspires to some political post when his basketball days are over.

"I just want to have a lot of options when I get out of school," he said.

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