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A Nice Dick Groat Read

One of Duke’s greatest athletes should be better remembered

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Pittsbugh Pirates v Brooklyn Dodgers
BROOKLYN, NY - 1956: Gil Hodges #14 of the Brooklyn Dodgers tags Dick Groat #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during a MLB game in 1956 in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

The other day we listened to CBS’s college basketball podcast and Matt Norlander was talking about something - it was probably Marvin Bagley’s double-doubles - and said that only a couple of guys had Duke had done as well, including “some guy in the ‘70s.”

That guy, we’re pretty sure, was Gene Banks, who was a bit better than “some guy in the 70s.” It was before Norlander’s time but Tom Heinsohn was before our time and we know he had a flat shot and we know Bones McKinney installed a seatbelt on the bench and we know Elgin Baylor had a twitch that sometimes doubled as a shot fake.

A lot of people either don’t suspect or never knew that basketball existed at Duke before Coach K arrived in 1980 but there was. He coached Banks in his last year, and Kenny Dennard and there was also Mike Gminski, Jim Spanarkel, Mike Lewis, Jack Marin, Bob Verga, Jeff Mullins, Art Heyman and Bill Werber.

But the only one of those guys to have his jersey retired, before Heyman’s in the ‘80s, was Dick Groat.

The N&O has a nice piece up on Groat, his time at Duke including his legendary Seniors Day game and his tremendous baseball career post-Duke.

He’s 87 and a broadcaster now for Pitt - Groat has a deep affection for his hometown school - but he still loves coming back to Duke and especially Cameron.

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