Dave DeWitt has an interesting article up about what Duke has that some other
ACC schools are lacking - specifically
leadership. He makes a comparison between Carrawell and Battier and UNC's Ed
Cota (we'll come back to UNC in a minute).
It's a fair comment, but one thing that a lot of people miss about Duke is
that the program is run on a military model. Leadership is expected from
experienced players, and through the years you have seen guys like Kevin
Strickland, Phil Henderson, Jeff Capel, Chris Collins, Greg Koubek, and now
Carrawell, step up when it was their time. It's because they have learned
some lessons in the program - and because their teammates support them.
It's a really interesting way of doing things, and it's what Coach K meant when
he said last spring that he coached for relationships, not for winning. To
suggest that he's not interested in winning is ludicrous; of course he is. But
it's the byproduct of relationships - if people depend on each other, and work
well together, you can either take the bridge or take the Final Four. The
same principles work, but they rely on how people deal with each other. Very few
people believed Coach K at the banquet last year, when, knowing several
defections were imminent, and having come to the podium in the dark, on
crutches, he said, basically, and we paraphrase liberally here,
"stuff happens. Stuff will always happen. But we're still going to have a
good team next year. In fact, we're going to be damn good."
In one sense, certainly for fans but also for the Three Amigos, it's sad that
they never got to do what Battier and Carrawell are doing. Sad for the
fans for obvious reasons, but sad for the players because it's a kind of growth
that they won't get now in the mercenary environment they have chosen. You can't
argue with the money, but you do pay a price, in various ways, for everything.
Now back to UNC. Brendan Haywood is getting some heat for saying he doesn't
care about the fans. Why should he? The fans - some fans anyway -
have turned on the team. He certainly heard the boos - the announcers discussed
it as well - and his teammates did, too. Why should he care about them?
Why should any UNC player on the team ever care about the fans again? Brendan
comes in for some criticism, some justified some not, but if you pull for a team
you should support them when it's not easy - especially when it's not
Duke fans generally get a pass on this, but you guys need some work in this
area too. It's not that anyone is booing, it's that standards are
slipping. Frankly, it's starting to seem like the Crazies are spoiled,
that they expect the team to win and it's good enough to show up and mug for
Dickie V. And we won't even get into the World Beyond The Rail.
It's not good enough. Cameron is, in our estimation, running at about 80% of
what it should be most of the time. The pressure is not as extreme as it could
be. It was much better, frankly, when the team was losing.