After an extended break, Duke gets back to business with Cornell, and impressively, Cornell appears to have leased Card Gym for the occasion: their Web site says that "Cornell has reserved an entire gymnasium for this event, just steps away from Cameron Indoor Arena, home of Blue Devils Basketball." Nice touch!
Duke gets back on the court after an unusually long break, having not played since December 20th against Pitt.
The loss at Pitt was disheartening, and if there hadn't been a long layoff, odds are that there would have been some quick adjustments, as in different lineups.
But one of the hallmarks of Coach K's time at Duke is finding positives out of failure, and one of the positives is that the loss came right before a long break, and that means multiple practices, tons of repetitions, and hours upon hours of working on issues.
Duke might be rusty after a long break, but they won't be untutored.
So what about Cornell? Well, they are out of the Ivy League, of course, and while they play a weak schedule, they did give Syracuse a bit of a game, losing only 80-64, although they never could get as close as last year, when they nearly pulled off the upset.
Since Coach K and Boeheim are colleagues on the Olympic team, and they have said publicly that they're watching each other's tapes, obviously this game has come up for discussion.
They'll surely discuss Cornell's outside shooting - they're one of the best three point shooting teams in the country - and the fact that Cornell couldn't manage to shoot over a zone.
The Big Red comes into Cameron at 6-4 with a two-game winning streak. They go about seven deep, and unlike a lot of teams at their level, they have some size, with three players over 6-9.
But they are a fairly young team, according to the Ithaca Journal, and that probably will kill any chance they might have. Their offense primarily comes from Ryan Wittman (15.9 points per game), Louis Dale (14.4) and Collin Robinson (11.9)
Like a lot of young players, Dale grew up watching Duke on TV and is excited about playing in Cameron, and says "I definitely grew up a Duke fan, watching Jason Williams and Mike Dunleavy,â said Dale, Cornell's sophomore point guard. âI've been to the Duke basketball camp twice, saw (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski) and stuff like that."
Teammate Adam Gore says the team is loose and ready to play.
Coach Steve Donahue says he thinks Syracuse is more athletic, but that Duke is better defensively, and he's had his guys playing 8-on-5 to get ready.
Still, it's probably not going to make a difference. Duke is coming off a loss and in a bit of a surly mood, as DeMarcus Nelson noted, saying that "[the Pitt loss] should really motivate us. It should let us know we can be beat, and it should set us on fire. When we come back from break, we've all got to have a new attitude and not forget this."
History suggests they won't.