Pressure is a funny thing, and it affects people in different
ways. In 1979, Duke went into the season ranked #1. When they
went to the Garden to play two games in December, back to back, they lost 18
point leads in both. Back to back.
Before too long, Bill Foster was taping
over the windows so that no one could watch practice. The team never
You could argue that a similar thing happened in 1995,
when Duke was in position to win most games, but couldn't close the deal. In
1996, when Krzyzewski returned, he lost his temper about 30 seconds into
the first game and got a T. He wasn't happy with how his team was playing,
and he let them know. In that case, the pressure was on them to perform to a
certain level, and it was apparently a positive pressure.
The defining example
in many ways of both struggling with pressure and still coming through
athletically is perhaps Roger Maris, who was so stressed in his 1961 pursuit of
Babe Ruth's record that he lost much of his hair. Yet he still managed to
There are plenty of other examples of people who have both succeeded
and failed to deal with pressure: Jennifer Capriati, in her first
incarnation. Todd Marinovich. Art Schlicter. One particularly
interesting example was Herman Veal, who played brilliantly at Duke despite a) a
serious legal issue hanging over his head, and b) the crowd really going after
him. Whatever you think of him, he got it done that day.
High school recruits
are a different issue. Many enjoy the adulation and attention and live in a dream world where it never ends because it never has. Not everyone, though.
Albert King had a tough time. Ralph Sampson announced for Virgina, and then immediately blurted out..."unless I go to Kentucky!"
Which leads us to Shavlik Randolph,
who is not entirely enjoying the attention and pressure he is getting these
Randolph is a very skilled player and a very disciplined one as
well, unusually so in fact. And from all accounts, he's a pretty decent
kid - religious, good student, things you like to see. We've seen him
around Raleigh a bit, and he's always hanging out with pretty normal high school
kids. No posse, no obvious athletes in tow. As far as we can tell, just his
buds, or as the Aussies would say, his mates.
There's nothing any of us can do
to change the fact that he has a gift, and we're sure he wouldn't want it
changed. But what we can do is to back off a bit, all of us, and not make
him feel like he's in a fishbowl.
Being 16 or 17 and seeing yourself discussed
all over the place, and seeing people question your motives, your ability, and
even your character - what a really unpleasant thing to deal with at any age,
but especially when you are just starting to shave and drive and date.
urge Duke fans to be positive, to embrace the fact that we have a prodigy in our
area who might want to play for our favorite team. It's great that he's even
interested. But if he decides for whatever reason that Duke's not for him, that
doesn't change the fact that he's a very decent kid and a smart one to
boot. If he goes somewhere else, we'll follow him with great interest, rag
on him if he comes to Cameron, but that's it. There's just no point in
putting the weight of the world on the shoulders of a teenager.
though obviously it'd be nice to have him, we've lost other huge recruits before
and done fine. Here's a few we missed. We did pretty well anyway. So
relax. Enjoy Shavlik's remarkable story, pull for him to come to Duke, and if
goes elsewhere, then wish him the best.
- Chris Webber
- Chris Jackson
- Danny Miller
- Vince Carter
- Adonal Foyle
- Jerrod Mustaf
- Dane Fife
- Ousmane Cisse
- Baron Davis
- David Lee
- Jared Jeffries
- Rick Rickert
- Lavell Blanchard