Duke gutted out a hard-fought 71-61 win over Michigan State in the Sweet 16, but it took the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed to end Duke’s 2012-13 season as top-seeded Louisville pulled away in the second half of the Elite Eight matchup to eliminate Duke, 85-63, in the Midwest Regional Final at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game was tight throughout until the Cardinals broke a 42-42 tie with a 17-2 run that started just over four minutes into the second half. Duke could not overcome a prolonged scoring drought that featured 10 straight missed field goals against a Louisville team that employed a full-court press the entire game. Senior Mason Plumlee went out on a high note, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for his team-leading 18th double-double of the season. His performance, along with 12 points apiece from Seth Curry and Quinn Cook, was not enough to overcome the guard play of Louisville’s Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, who combined for 39 points and just one turnover. Smith, the Midwest Regional’s MVP, fronted a Cardinal squad that handed Duke only its second loss in 13 trips to the Elite Eight under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
CURRY AND PLUMLEE NAMED TO REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Seniors Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee were named to the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team following Duke’s 85-63 loss to Louisville. The duo combined to average over half of Duke’s scoring for the entire tournament, and each scored in double figures in all four games. Curry led the team with 21.0 points per game and posted two 20-point efforts, while Plumlee averaged 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his final NCAA Tournament. Those two became the fifth and sixth Blue Devils to appear on the Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team, joining Tommy Amaker (1987) and 1991 selections Thomas Hill, Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner.
KRZYZEWSKI’S COACHING TREE GROWS
Coach K’s coaching tree grew last week when Duke associate head coach Chris Collins and Rhode Island associate head coach Bobby Hurley both accepted head coaching positions. The head jobs are the first for both Collins and Hurley, two former Blue Devils under Krzyzewski. Collins was named the next head coach at Northwestern, while Hurley was announced as Buffalo’s head coach. With former Krzyzewski products Johnny Dawkins at Stanford and Tommy Amaker at Harvard, Krzyzewski now has four former Duke players in head coaching positions in Division I basketball.
JAMES PROMOTED TO ASSISTANT COACH
With Chris Collins’ departure to become the next head coach at Northwestern, the Duke coaching staff will lose 13 years of experience on the sidelines. The transition will not be entirely difficult, however, as Coach K promoted from within to move Nate James back to his former role as an assistant coach. James, who served as a special assistant on the staff this season, will move into the spot vacated by Collins as an assistant coach, the same role he served with the Blue Devils from 2008-11. During his previous three-year stint as an assistant coach, James helped Duke capture three straight ACC Championship as well as a 95-17 record and the 2010 NCAA Championship. Said Krzyzewski of the move, “This will be a seamless transition for the Duke Basketball program. Having served in an assistant coaching role previously, Nate is the perfect choice for this position. He has been a valuable member of our program since his playing days and he has certainly earned this opportunity.”
DENG, BOOZER END BATTIER & HEAT’S WINNING STREAK
Last week in this space, we covered the former Blue Devil Shane Battier’s role in the Miami Heat’s remarkable winning streak. Fittingly, however, it was two Blue Devils who ended the streak when Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng led the Chicago Bulls to a 101-97 win over Miami that snapped the Heat’s streak at 27 games, falling shy of the league-record 33-game tear by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Boozer and Deng combined for 49 points in the victory, with Boozer going for 21 points and 17 rebounds and Deng netting 28 points on 10-of-22 shooting.
UNCLE DREW BOBBLEHEAD A HOT ITEM
The Cleveland Cavaliers crafted a unique fan giveaway in early March, distributing a limited number of “Uncle Drew” bobbleheads at a Cavs home game. Uncle Drew, of course, is the alter ego of former Duke star and No. 1 overall NBA Draft selection Kyrie Irving, a role he assumed for a Pepsi Max promotion that went viral. The bobbleheads, of which only 50 were given away, were so popular that, according to BusinessInsider.com, one recently went for $560 on eBay.
Curry runs deep into tournament on leg that’s been hurt all season (Fayetteville Observer)
Duke survives tense night in Indianapolis (Fayetteville Observer)
Loss to Lehigh made Duke get very defensive (Chicago Tribune)
Henderson playing his best basketball with free agency approaching (The Republic)
Deng draws raves after Chicago Bulls’ victory over Timberwolves (Chicago Tribune)
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Greg Anthony @GregAnthony50
Spoke with Kevin Ware this morning, he's in good spirits, surgery went well and expects a FULL recovery! Continue to keep him in ur thoughts
Seth Curry @sdotcurry
Thanks for all the support and motivation the past three years. Wouldn't trade my time wearing the blue and white for anything! #Dukie4life
Ryan Kelly @RyanKelly34 12h
Many thanks to my teammates and DukeNation for helping to make my career so special. Special thanks to @sdotcurry and @masonplumlee
STAT OF THE WEEK
Duke’s win over Michigan State in the Sweet 16 was the team’s 30th of the season, marking the 13th time that Coach K has led Duke to a 30-win season. Krzyzewski’s 13 30-win seasons are not only the most of any coach in NCAA history, but are more than all but one NCAA Division I program. Only Kentucky has matched that mark, sitting tied with Coach K at 13 30-win seasons.