clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Our Favorite Players Of The Kryzewski Era At Duke

We could easily do another list but here goes.

5 Feb 1998: Forward Shane Battier of the Duke Blue Devils in action during a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
5 Feb 1998: Forward Shane Battier of the Duke Blue Devils in action during a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With Coach K now having 1,000 NCAA wins, we thought we'd take a look back at our favorite players during the Krzyzewski era. So away we go!

With minimal order:

  • Johnny Dawkins. He had huge talent, sure, but also immense style. Rail skinny, Dawkins just dominated games from the backcourt.
  • Jay Bilas. Obviously he became very famous as a broadcaster, but as a  player, he was smart, tough and reliable. His best moment may have been against Navy and David Robinson. A wonderful player and a huge asset to the game in general.
  • Dan Meaghar. If we recall correctly, Meaghar got into a bit of an argument with Tom Sheehey. For years afterwards, Cameron chanted "Meaghar spit in his face! Meaghar spit in his face! Meaghar spit in his face! " As a junior or senior - we can't remember now - he said publicly he expected to play or he would probably leave. Canadians tend to get stereotyped as either overly nice or frontierish villains. Meaghar was an original and he was fun to watch. Kind of  a hockey mentality really.
  • Billy King. Duke's greatest defender, he could guard point guards or centers but couldn't hit a layup. The guy was a savant who rode Mark Macon so hard that he cried after the game. His reputation never recovered.
  • Robert Brickey. Duke's first high-flying athlete, Brickey essentially played center at 6-5, and did it well.
  • Christian Laettner. What can we say that hasn't been said? Well, maybe this: we sat courtside at a Christmas game and an opposing player dove to the floor to get the ball. This was a trivial holiday game, and you might expect players to be relaxed. Nope. Laettner towered over the poor guy and screamed his head off. It was more like a war cry than anything.  Made a huge impression on us sitting just a few feet away. Laettner was always ready to go. So were we, after that.
  • David Henderson. Coach K has a 12-letter word he likes for a tough player. Henderson epitomized that. He was as tough as anyone who has ever played for Duke. The Devils got lucky when Curtis Hunter, who was much more highly regarded, chose UNC.
  • Tommy Amaker. He was the perfect point guard for his group and nearly as good a defender as King. An understated and elegant player.
  • Chris Carrawell. Possibly the coolest guy to come through Duke. Meaghar spoke his mind and at one point Phil Henderson piped up and really ripped his team. But no one ever came close to C-well's level of absolute candor. We watched him interview at a media day and when the press was done they patted him on the shoulders and rubbed his head. He got everyone home to dinner on time. And he was totally uncensored. He says just what he thinks.
  • Jay Heaps. He wasn't even a scholarship player and didn't get in a lot, but Heaps was a remarkable player, very clever. He only scored eight points, but he had a huge impact, and when he did play, he played well.
  • Andre Buckner. Another guy who wasn't a huge player - he was insurance for Jason Williams basically and he didn't play a lot - but he was always ready. We really appreciated him.
  • Alaa Abdelnaby. The first time we saw Abdelnaby, we realized immediately that he was seriously immature. But he was a big goof, and ultimately he became a pretty good player. Out of the mold, but fun.
  • Greg Paulus. His career at Duke didn't go as he hoped, but we respected the hell out of him. Never whined, never complained, never gave less than everything he had. He's going to be a great coach. Just wait. It is tempting to wonder if he might have played football at Duke had David Cutcliffe shown up in time.
  • Taymon Domzalski. We liked him because he was a good kid with a big heart, but also because he had one of the most electrifying plays in the history of Cameron: Maryland's Keith Booth had a good start towards the basket and went up for an absolutely massive dunk. It was going to be an amazing shot. Except that Tomzalski got this mean look on his face, took about two steps and went up and blocked it mid-air. It was an incredible play and perhaps the most macho things we've ever seen in a basketball game. That took some serious guts.
  • Bobby Hurley. What can we say about Hurley? He was just brilliant, relentless and never stopped. He was like a terrier on the court, so when we bought one, we named it Hurley. Odd fact about Hurley: he could run faster dribbling than he could without a ball. Total gym rat. Another great coach on the way.
  • Antonio Lang. Lang, quite simply, was one of the best, most decent people who's ever come through Duke. He made a huge impression on us.
  • Wojo. No one really bothers to learn to spell his last name unless they have to. When you consider his basic talent level, only his will propelled him to be a superb point guard. Talent was pretty minimal. But everyone respected him, including Dean Smith, who spent one press conference reminding people why he had wanted him too. It was underscored in a game at Virginia when the officials made a mistake in the lane on a foul shot. Wojo took off with the ball while someone - we think Harold Deane - complained. Wojo scored and the basket counted.
  • Trajan Langdon. He was brilliant in many ways, but always cool and enigmatic. We only saw him get worked up once, when, for some reason, he had it in for State's Adam Harrington. He just got on the kid and never let up. We have no idea why.
  • Mike Dunleavy. Dunleavy had a remarkable intelligence for the game. As a freshman, he was a one-man bench in a six-man rotation, but it worked because he could play three positions and most everyone else could too. So one guy in, and everyone just basically moved a spot. It was pretty cool to watch.
  • Jason Williams. Wow. Watching him at times gave us chills. He was so unassuming and earnest and at times, that part of him got him in trouble on the court. But then the Superman side came out and he could just gut a team. He did it to UCLA when he scored like 17 straight and Maryland fans will never forget the Gone In 56 Seconds game. If you had to choose between Williams, Hurley and Kyrie Irving, what would you do?
  • Kyrie Irving. We only got to see him for seven games, but his genius was already evident when he beat a triple team Michigan State threw at him and then just picked Oregon apart.
  • Shane Battier. We were trying to con our way into Card after it was more tightly controlled and nothing we said to the guard would get him to let us in. After we gave up, we turned around and found Battier standing behind us, waiting patiently, kind of grinning. He could have big-timed us but didn't. That was very cool. He was just brilliant, on and off the court.
  • JJ Redick. We knew he could shoot. He shot State out of an ACC title as a freshman, after the MVP had already been decided. He had a golden arm. But we had no idea that a shooting guard could be like...that. By the time he was a senior, 25 point halves were no surprise. Redick was a nightmare for opponents. He was amazing to watch.
  • Dave McClure. McClure just knew how to win. He never got a lot of attention, but things always worked better when he was in. Just one of those guys.
  • Jon Scheyer. Another one of those guys. Scheyer may be the smartest player we've ever watched. We used to see how long he went between mistakes. It could be a good, long time.
  • Nolan Smith. What a bon vivant. Smith was just always upbeat at Duke.
  • Lance Thomas. Not many guys grew more at Duke than Thomas, who was really limited as a freshman yet made it to the NBA. And along the way he became a tremendous leader.
  • Brian Zoubek. Like Thomas, he improved dramatically. Like Scheyer, he was wicked smart.  And as a senior, he was the guy who clinched Duke's 2010 title.
  • Kyle Singler. The ultimate team guy. As a freshman, he bulked up to play inside. But as a senior, with no guard depth, Singler dropped a ton of weight and became a totally different player. He was gutty and tough. Duke was lucky to have him.

We could go on for a long time, but that's probably about the right place to stop. But if we did, we'd talk about Nate James, Chris Collins, Elton Brand, Danny Ferry, Brian Davis and Greg Koubek, among others.