December 13, 2004

(9) Duke 82, Toledo 54

Mike Krzyzewski 700 Wins, originally uploaded by Mrs_Skeffington.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Mike Krzyzewski avoids any contact with the outside world before a game, a long-standing ritual that allows him to prepare mentally for the task ahead.

He made a rare exception Sunday, making a phone call to the man who hired him at Duke, former athletic director Tom Butters.

``I did talk to Tom,'' Krzyzewski said, ``to say thanks.''

Later, on a court that bears his name, Coach K became the sixth active coach to reach 700 victories, watching as Shelden Williams finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds to help the ninth-ranked Blue Devils beat Toledo 82-54.

A rough first three seasons at the school left Krzyzewski with a 38-47 record, but Butters stuck with him. That support has continued throughout his 25 years at Duke, even during two brief musings about leaving for the NBA.

``I wonder, 'How lucky was I?''' Krzyzewski said. ``At 38-47, somebody's got to be there for you. Duke's always been there for me, and I'll always be there for Duke.''

During a brief ceremony after the game, Krzyzewski thanked several people within the program, including current and past players, and the Cameron Crazies who pack Cameron Indoor Stadium every game.

He also gave a nod to former coach and mentor Bob Knight, the only one to reach 700 faster than Krzyzewski. Both started their careers with successful tenures at Army, where Krzyzewski played under Knight.

``I really thought about Coach Knight and Tom Butters,'' Krzyzewski said. ``There's a reason why somebody's in a place they are all the time. Those two people have been unbelievable for my development.

``If I didn't touch them in my life, I would not have touched so many others. I realize that.''

J.J. Redick scored 14 points and Daniel Ewing added 13 for the Blue Devils (6-0).

Krzyzewski, whose record is 700-240, clearly was focused on this game, not the achievement. In the first half, with Duke leading by 11 points, he berated referees Jamie Luckie and Ray Nattili for what he thought was a kicked ball infraction by the Rockets.

During a timeout, Krzyzewski continued the ``discussion,'' but he avoided a technical. Not even the officials wanted to ruin this night for him.

``I'm not a lookback guy,'' Krzyzewski said. ``I'm a next-play guy. I'm really glad we won and we can get back to developing these players.''

The Blue Devils hadn't played in eight days, an exam-induced layoff that led to some expected rustiness in the first half. The Rockets (1-4) made their first five shots and led 10-2, quieting the Cameron Crazies for a bit.

An 11-0 run gave Duke the lead for good, and the second half was nothing more than a countdown to the inevitable. Toledo went more than 8 minutes without a basket -- missing 11 straight shots to fall way behind.

``Obviously, we got off to a good start, but then we couldn't sustain it,'' Rockets coach Stan Joplin said. ``We wanted to avoid one of those situations where they would go on a 12- or 15-2 run, and we couldn't avoid it.''

Ewing and Williams did most of the damage during the spurt, combining for the first 16 points after halftime. Bothered by foul trouble in the opening half, Ewing returned with a vengeance, going outside for a 3-pointer and then taking a beautiful lob pass from DeMarcus Nelson for a dunk.

Even crowd favorite Reggie Love got in the act, rebounding a miss by Redick and leaping for a slam. That was part of 17 straight points by the Blue Devils, and Nelson finished it off with a layup to make it 63-38.

``I don't know exactly what it means to Coach, because he is such a driven guy,'' Redick said. ``I am sure he is still hungry and energized. I expect him to get a lot more wins, but I think this will mean a lot to him.''

The Rockets, the preseason favorite in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, beat Nevada 83-75 last week for their only victory of the season. That came at home, and they started a four-game road trip with their first visit to Cameron.

Leading scorer Florentin Valencia, who was averaging 15.5 points, struggled throughout and finished with only four points. Keonta Howell led Toledo with 13.

``We had some good looks,'' Joplin said. ``We missed some layups. Early, we were getting those, and then they started not to fall.''

No comments: