Note: With the change to our new roanoke.com website, Doug Doughty’s College Notebook Plus will now run weekly on his blog
I wonder how many Virginia fans heard the admonition not to rush the court Thursday at the Virginia-Duke basketball game and thought to themselves, “Hmmm, that sounds like fun.”
For my part, I wondered about the timing of the announcement and whether it might give the Blue Devils even more determination after they had trimmed a 16-point deficit to five points, 71-66, with 22 seconds remaining.
Joe Harris had fouled out with 40 seconds left and his UVa colleagues had missed enough free throws to make the crowd a little uneasy as freshman Evan Nolte stepped to the line. UVa was in the double bonus and Nolte made both shots, but it wasn’t sealed until then.
My assignment was to write “running” and send a story to our copy desk as soon as the game ended, so I was headed down the back stairs to the John Paul Jones Arena press room at the time of an alleged scuffle, altercation, misunderstanding, conversation or whatever you want to call it between Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and JPJ security.
I didn’t see anything but it was one of the first matters that Krzyzewski was asked to address after the game. And, keep in mind, Duke has lost four games and the opposing fans had rushed the floor on each occasion — at North Carolina State, at Miami, at Maryland and now at UVa.
“Whenever we’ve lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court,” Krzyzewski said. “Whatever you’re doing, you need to get the [visiting] team off first. Celebrate. Have fun. Obviously, you won. That’s cool. Just get our team and our coaching staff off the court before students come on.
“Put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches. I’m not saying anybody did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to come up to you and say, ‘Coach you’re an a-’ or push you or hit you. What do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story, right?
“We deserve that kind of protection. I’m always concerned about stuff like that, especially this time of year. What if that happened and we got a kid suspended? It is not all fun and games when people are rushing the court, especially for the team that lost.
“But again, congratulations to them and they should have fun and burn benches do all that stuff. I’m all for that. That’s the bottom of the line. We always get yelled at. I’ve been called more things about my mother or my kids. That’s something that’s happened for 25 years. That means nothing.
“Safety is something. That’s what I’m talking about. They had a great crowd. I don’t mean to demean the game. They played great. [Joe] Harris was unbelievable. That’s the story of the game. Please, that’s not where I want to go with this.
“Look, the key to their team is Harris. Harris is a big-time player and an amazing competitor.”
VIRGINIA ASSISTANT COACH Jason Williford, a spectator at the Virginia Independent Schools’ state championships at Virginia State, said there were 17 NBA scouts at the UVa-Duke game.
Most were there to take a look at two Duke seniors, postman Mason Plumlee and guard Seth Curry. The Blue Devils’ have a third senior, Ryan Kelly, who was one of Duke’s top three scorers at the time of a January foot injury.
Duke fans need not despair. Two players who are sitting out this year are shooting guard Andre Dawkins from Atlantic Shores Christian in Chesapeake and Rodney Hood, a 6-8, 210-pound forward who averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds as a freshman last year at Mississippi State.
Dawkins led the Blue Devils in 3-point field goals (67) and 3-point percentage (.400) last year, when he started 14 of 34 games. He originally was supposed to come to Duke in 2010 but graduated from high school early. This will put him back on his original career path.
Krzyzewski was bemoaning the absence of a power forward Thursday night and presumably Hood will help in that area, although that role is more normally associated with a 230-pounder. Without naming names, Kryzewski said UVa didn’t have to guard Duke’s “four” man, a role nominally filled by Josh Hairston, who had zero points and zero rebounds in 15 minutes.
Interestingly, both Duke and Virginia will be adding promising 2012 Southeastern Conference freshmen in Hood and UVa’s 6-8, 229-pound Anthony Gill, who averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds last year at South Carolina.
Teammates credited Gill and Malcolm Brogdon for the “good looks” they regular give the Cavaliers in practice. Brogdon is taking a redshirt year while recuperating from March foot surgery but has resumed practicing.