Elton Brand could wind up as the national Player of the Year, and Chris Burgess was a consensus first team prep All-American.
Shane Battier, the other member of Duke's sophomore class of "Killer B's," has developed a reputation as a defensive stopper, but Wednesday night he showed that his game isn't limited to taking a charge, and why he received several national prep Player of the Year awards in 1997.
Duke's 18-point romp over Maryland featured a career-high 27 points from Battier, including 11 straight for the Blue Devils in the second half. He came into the game averaging 8.0 points and shooting 28.6 percent from three-point range. He made all four of his attempts beyond the arc, in his latest clutch performance.
"I think people think I'm some sort of offensive derelict out there," said Battier, who prepped at Country Day in the Detroit suburbs. "I did score in high school."
So did Nate James, the Washingtonian who prepped at St. John's at Prospect Hall when that Frederick school was in the basketball factory business. James considered Maryland, and the redshirt sophomore wing was ready to play the Terps. He had 11 points Wednesday night, one shy of his career high.
The Blue Devils use only eight players, but every one was a consensus prep All-American, and some of the Terps seem to be in denial over the talent that coach Mike Krzyzewski has assembled.
"They've got to get a team that can out-physical them," guard Steve Francis said. "We didn't out-physical them."
The Blue Devils have taken aim at the first 16-0 record in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Even before the Maryland game, junior wing Chris Carrawell spoke of how Duke would have to complete the regular season with a win at hated rival North Carolina to reach that pinnacle.
Krzyzewski is openly politicking for Duke to be the No. 1 seed in the East, over Connecticut of the Big East Conference. As skilled as the Blue Devils are, their greatest strength may be their ability to discuss long-range goals, and still approach the next game as if it is their last.
This is the first time every conference regular-season game has been televised, but the exposure has come with a cost.
After Wake Forest upset Maryland on Sunday -- the Demon Deacons' only win in their last seven games, by the way -- coach Dave Odom blistered the several thousand fans who had tickets but stayed away from Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum.
No-shows are also a problem at the Smith Center, where the holder of North Carolina's radio rights admitted to the Raleigh News & Observer that it had taken to adding pre-recorded crowd noise to its broadcasts.
"Some nights, a lot of season-ticket holders don't come," said Tar Heels coach Bill Guthridge, who added that his athletic director told him it's not unique to North Carolina. "Dick [Baddour] tells me it's happening all over the country. There's a problem with TV, especially the late games. If it's raining, people stay home."
Scheduling demands can be ridiculous. From Feb. 11 to 16, Georgia Tech will play three games in five days, all on the road, with trips to Florida State, Louisville and Wake Forest. That Wake game is also a dreaded 9 p.m. start, another reminder that TV money makes the schedule.
"Everyone has to do these things," Tech coach Bobby Cremins said with a shrug. "We know why we do it."
Maryland's 1973-74 team will be recognized before tomorrow's game against Virginia. Len Elmore, Tom McMillen, Billy Hahn and the rest of the Terps from 25 years ago will be honorary captains. North Carolina is closing in on its 29th straight 20-win season. The Tar Heels figure to get Jason Capel back from mononucleosis for Sunday's game against Georgia Tech. Ronald Curry, their other prized freshman, held down the point while Ed Cota recovered from a groin pull.
Pub Date: 2/05/99