Don’t worry. It will end someday. I lived in ACC country for the entire Wooden era.
Blue Devils primed for a run
Duke may very well be preseason No. 2 heading into next season. No more Brittney Griner to worry about, no more Skylar Diggins.
Duke has that No. 1 recruiting class now rising seniors and a No. 2 class coming in as freshmen, and with not one but two national player-of-the-year candidates in rising junior center Elizabeth Williams and rising senior guard Chelsea Gray.
The Blue Devils (33-3 and ACC champions) would seem to have what it takes to go all the way if they can avoid being mesmerized by the UConn jerseys.
During Joanne P. McCallie’s six years at the helm the Blue Devils have finished their season in a very appropriate spot except once, that in her second season when they were a No. 1 seed and famously got sent to Michigan State where she had previously been head coach — and with team leader Abby Waner struggling through a leg injury were upset by the No. 9 seed Spartans in front of a nasty crowd.
(To her credit, McCallie never complained publicly about the assignment.)But let’s take a look at the three Triangle schools and assess the immediate past and future.
CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State held its press conference to introduce Wes Moore as its new head women’s basketball coach on Monday.
He was an assistant coach at State under the late Kay Yow, for whom the Reynolds Coliseum court is named, from 1993-95.
Moore has 558 career wins (with 169 losses) including 29 this season. The former Francis Marion (Division II) and Maryville (Division III) coach is the only one to lead women’s basketball teams to NCAA Tournament berths at all three levels.
He is replacing Kellie Harper (70-64 at State), who was fired after four years at the helm following a 17-17 season. In a coincidence, Harper was a Moore assistant at Chattanooga before becoming head coach at Western Carolina in 2004.
CONSTANT CENTER/NORFOLK, Va. It’s Go Time for Duke in women’s basketball.
ACC champion Duke (33-2) is seeded No. 2 and the Big East champion Irish (34-1) — who will join the ACC for next season — No. 1.
Notre Dame has a national marquee player in senior point guard Skylar Diggins, who was named a first-team AP All-American earlier in the day. Duke’s Chelsea Gray, out for the season since a knee injury on Valentine’s Day, was named to the second team while Duke center Elizabeth Williams and Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride are on the third team.
The teams did square off early last season, with the Irish coming back to win 56-54 on Nov. 25, 2011, in the Bahamas.
Duke fights hard and gives the Irish a good scare, but it’s too much Diggins as Notre Dame advances 87-76.
CONSTANT CENTER/NORFOLK, Va. Duke will be a solid favorite coming into its regional semifinal game against Nebraska, and the Blue Devils have been great in this game in recent seasons.
No. 2 seed Duke (32-2) has won three straight times in Round-of-16 games before being eliminated in the Elite Eight.
The No. 2-ranked Irish (34-1) annihilated Kansas 93-63 in the other first-round matchup on Sunday.
It’s the first meeting between the No. 5-ranked Blue Devils and the No. 24-ranked Huskers.
And oh, it will be a homecoming game for Virginia Beach native and Duke center and leading scorer Elizabeth Williams, playing for the first time in Tidewater as a Blue Devil.
For the third time in as many NCAA games the Blue Devils grind one out, survive and advance, ousting the Cornhuskers 53-45.
Such decisions are much easier in the world of pro sports.
If the coach didn’t win yesterday and probably won’t win tomorrow, he’s out. No matter how hard the team has played through injuries, no matter if everybody on the planet thinks a bad call took them out of the playoffs too early the year before, and no matter if he donated a kidney to the pre-teen daughter of a season-ticket holder in the off-season.
It’s easy to remove a coach who has had back-to-back 5-20 seasons, no matter how classy he or she is personally. And if nobody on the team has graduated in five years and the total number of lines on rap sheets is higher than Coach’s win total, then the axe should fall.
But when someone like Kellie Harper loses a job, as happened at N.C. State on Tuesday, it’s a rough day for just about everyone who has seen her in action.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke has made a habit of getting to the NCAA’s Sweet 16 in recent years, failing to get there just once since 1997.
The opponent is No. 7 seed Oklahoma State (22-10), which will try to stop the Blue Devils from a date with No. 6 seed Nebraska on Sunday in Norfolk, Va.
It’s not an easy assignment for the fifth-ranked Blue Devils, since the Cowgirls play in the tough Big XII and are used to this kind of atmosphere.
It turns out not to be an easy game at all. But Duke engineers its best comeback in years, recovering from a 15-point deficit just after halftime to eliminate the Cowgirls 68-59.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM One last time to protect the home court, then on to brighter lights.
That’s what Duke hopes to get accomplished on Tuesday night at 7 (ESPNU), when Oklahoma State visits for the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.
Both teams got moderate challenges in the first round on Sunday, with the Blue Devils getting a noisy 67-51 win over MEAC champion Hampton and the Cowgirls topping DePaul 73-56.
The teams have played three times before with Duke winning them all, including a 73-45 result in Stillwater two seasons ago.
Duke is looking to improve to 18-0 in NCAA Tournament games at Cameron, and hasn’t lost at home to anyone but Connecticut in over five years.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke begins another quest today.
After three straight NCAA Tournaments in which a great Blue Devil team ended its run in the Elite Eight, perhaps this team is good enough to make a Final Four.
Of course no NCAA Tournament run will ever be easy, although at least Joanne P. McCallie’s club gets to start at home.
Today’s opponent for the No. 5 Blue Devils (30-2), seeded No. 2 in the Norfolk Region behind Notre Dame, is four-time defending MEAC champion Hampton (28-5), which is seeded No. 15 but both head coaches think it should be higher.
Hampton has come to Cameron in this situation before, losing 72-37 in the first round in 2010.
Hampton has brought about 1,000 fans, making the seating sections a sea of royal blue since the schools’ colors are so similar.
The Blue Devils have to fight to escape, but finally win 67-51 for their 17th straight NCAA Tournament victory in Durham.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke begins its quest for post-season glory on Sunday afternoon against an opponent that didn’t have a long way to travel.
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State will try to finish its season on a good note with some success in the WNIT, but the Wolfpack’s first-round assignment isn’t an easy one.
The Wolfpack of course needs victories to assure its second straight winning season as charismatic senior guard Marissa Kastanek ends her college career, playing tonight in her school-record 132nd game.
Richmond has a couple of locals on its roster. Junior guard Amber Nichols (Broughton) is a reserve while sophomore forward Amber Battle (Middle Creek) is out for the year with injuries.
It isn’t easy, but the Wolfpack rallies in the final four minutes to escape with a 60-55 victory.