They exist in different worlds. For one program March marks the beginning of the end, a fast and furious month that leads to the ultimate victory for one team and a trip home for 64 others. In contrast, the other program is gearing up for its own fast and furious season, but one that will begin half a year from now. The practices are different, the preparations are different, and, most importantly, the mindsets are different.
Basketball and football, the staples of the college sports fan's diet. For Reggie Love, they are a way of life, and March, with NCAA Tournament Madness and football spring practice, ensures that the freshman will have to delicately balance the two and their contrasting styles and mindsets in the weeks to come. Although this tenuous balance means a hectic lifestyle, Reggie Love enjoys being a two-sport athlete.
"[Playing two sports]'s been great but it's pretty time-consuming - lots of traveling, meeting with coaches, and going back and forth between two sports. It's not easy but it's fun and it's what I love to do," Love explained.
Although he was recruited to play football at Duke, Love has made an impact on the hardwood this winter, providing a frontcourt presence off the bench for the Blue Devil basketball team. Love saw sparing minutes until center Carlos Boozer sustained a foot injury against Maryland on February 27th. Since then, Love explains that his role on the team has not changed, but that he has been called upon to do more of what he specializes in - rebounding and defense.
"My role is more or less to play defense and rebound - bringing some energy to the court. But with Carlos out, I think that's going to be amplified," Love said before the ACC Tournament.
True to his word, Love and teammates Casey Sanders and Matt Christensen have intensified their frontcourt defensive and rebounding efforts, admirably contributing to Duke's remarkable ACC Tournament Championship run. Love recorded a career-high eight rebounds in sixteen minutes in the Championship game against North Carolina on March 11th while also playing defense against one of the strongest centers in the game, the Tar Heels' Brendan Haywood.
But basketball is not Love's only focus these days. The Charlotte native, who plays wide receiver for the Carl Franks' football squad, practices with the team in spring drills and is optimistic about the future of the program.
"Spring practice has just started so I'm just getting back into things like running routes and catching passes. I'm thinking positively for next season. Hopefully we can be the best football team that Duke football can be. It's hard to tell right now because we don't have the freshmen in and everyone's still a little rusty, but I think the coaches have an upbeat attitude so I think we're destined for good things," Love explained.
As part of a youthful and talented offensive squad, one reason why Duke football is destined for good things is Reggie Love himself. Last season Love, a SuperPrep All-America Selection at Charlotte's Providence Day, showed glimpses of brilliance on the gridiron, registering eight receptions, including his first career touchdown against Georgia Tech on October 21st, for 101 yards in ten games.
In order for the football team to be successful this season, Love and his teammates will have to display these offensive flashes on more consistent level, and the offseason should help in the development of Duke's key offensive players.
Normally one would think the overlap with basketball in the spring might detract from this development, but not with a student-athlete such as Love, who balanced both football and basketball, along with an Honor Roll academic record and student government, in high school. Love notes that Duke fans should not be worried about how basketball will affect his preparation for football season. A summer of hard work, both on the field and in the classroom, will allow the 6'6 wide receiver to be ready for his sophomore football campaign.
Love also adds that lessons learned his freshman year will better prepare him for the adjustment between football and basketball seasons next winter, as this transition constitutes a much quicker turnaround, a difficulty Love was not fully anticipating this past November.
"[Going from football to basketball] was a really quick turnaround," Love said. "It was pretty difficult actually. Going from high school basketball to ACC basketball, the number one team in the nation - it's pretty tough. I think I handled it okay. I think I probably should have worked out a little more during football season with ball-handling and shooting. I didn't really know what to expect. I don't think I prepared well for it but hopefully next year I'll have a better idea of what to do to be ready."
One area in which Love will not have to adjust that much is in watching tape. He notes the similarities between head coaches Carl Franks and Mike Krzyzewski in preparing for practices and games through extensive study of videotape.
"I was actually surprised with how much tape we watch for basketball. We watch about as much tape as we do for football. I thought that basketball would be less game study of film and more on the court stuff but it's about equal. That was kind of surprising to me but I guess that's how Coach K gets to be great - watching a lot of tape," Love explained.
Although the rest of the adjustment between football and basketball seasons, a transition that Love will have to undergo every March and November until he graduates, will be more difficult, Reggie Love is prepared to meet the challenge after learning from the lessons of his freshman campaign.