KANSAS CITY – Duke accomplished its first major goal of the 2010-2011 season by beating the Kansas State Wildcats to win the CBE Championship last night in Kansas City. As Coach K indicated earlier this season, the immediate goal of this team must not be to win a national championship. Instead, it must first learn to play together, compete in the early season CBE tournament, compete to win the ACC regular season, and compete to win the ACC Tournament. As Duke progresses
towards each larger goal, the team will be best positioned to accomplish the ultimate goal of winning an NCAA title.
At this juncture, the importance of the CBE Championship in this maturation process cannot be underestimated.
In the words of the infamous Mr. Goodkat, the effort undertaken here is “no small matter. Requires a lot of planning. Involves a lot of people.
People connected only by the slightest of events. Like whispers in the night, in that place that never forgets, even when those people do. It starts with a horse.”
Against Marquette, that horse was Mason Plumlee. Last night against Kansas State, Duke leveraged a collective defensive effort to bottle up Jacob Pullen and force a slew of turnovers from the K-State squad. They also relied upon steady offensive contributions across the board, with five players scoring in double figures. Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith led the way with 17 apiece including several timely run-stopping baskets. Speaking of KI, he had an all-around great game and there wasn’t much K-State could do to contain Kyrie’s Kansas City Shuffle – when everybody looked right, he went left.
All in all, it was a great showing by Duke in a very difficult environment. The crowd was raucously cheering against the Blue Devils and the team managed to quiet the purple faithful with several timely runs. While there are still many areas for improvement, this team continues to show great promise at this stage of the season.
Highlights from the Post-Game Conference -
Coach Mike Krzyzewski
On tonight’s performance: “Our guys played great tonight, the defense was really good, we never let up… Tonight was a great performance, a great game. You never know how a team will respond in a tough environment like this. Our guys incorporated feedback well from last night. We weren’t too pleased with our performance last night and the guys made adjustments.”
On Pullen: “Pullen is one of the best players in country. Our plan was to alternate guarding him with Kyrie and Nolan… You have a really good player matched up against a really good player… And let’s not kid ourselves, we were fortunate that Pullen missed some shots he normally makes.”
On Nolan and Kyle: “Our two seniors were great leaders tonight. They led the right way. Good feedback, good faces, positive encouragement…along with making plays, leading by example.”
Coach K also made a point to note that Andre Dawkins hit a lot of really big buckets and that our bench made solid contributions to the game.
On victory #800 at Duke: “It means a lot. It means that I’ve been at Duke a long time… (laughs)… I’ve been very fortunate to be able to be at Duke and recruit high character young men that make the program what it is… It’s very special.”
On areas for improvement: “Lots to improve! We have a lot of young guys. Its not just winning, but how do you follow up… We need to continue to practice and get better. K-State will get a lot better, and we want to get a lot better.”
Coach Frank Martin
Asked what he learned from the game: “We can’t turn the ball over 21 times, shoot 47% from the free throw line, and expect to beat the number one team in the country.”
On Kyrie Irving: “I recruited Kyrie. He’s a special, special player.”
On Kyrie and match-ups: “Mike did a lot more to get his players ready to guard Jacob than I did to get our players ready to guard Kyrie. That’s why he’s won 800 games at Duke and a gazillion national championships. He’s good. Mike took me to school today.”
Asked whether Duke is the best team in the country: “Well….they knocked the [expletive] out of us. If there’s a better team out there, I don’t want to play them. Duke is very well deserving of the ranking they have.” And as Slevin asks, “Is that all there is to it?” Mr. Goodkat: “Yup… That’s all there is to it.”