Duke celebrates start of hoops practice
Duke is marking Mike Krzyzewski's climb up the career coaching victories list with a tote board behind one of the baskets.
For one night anyway, Coach K didn't have to worry about adding to that total.
The Blue Devils opened practice Friday night with their ''Countdown to Craziness,'' and one of the highlights was the intrasquad scrimmage that marked the debuts for freshmen Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee in front of the Cameron Crazies.
Seth Curry scored 28 points to lead the Blue team past the White 56-53 in a scrimmage that delighted the fans but, of course, had no impact on Krzyzewski's pursuit of Bob Knight on the Division I men's career coaching list.
There was no missing the adjustable sign behind the basket at the south end of Cameron Indoor Stadium that listed Krzyzewski's victory total in big blue numbers above the word ''Kounting.''
Coach K enters his 37th season as a head coach with a record of 900-284 - two victories behind Knight on the career victories list. Krzyzewski could match his college coach and mentor on Nov. 12 when the Blue Devils play Presbyterian, then could pass him Nov. 15 against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.
But on this night, Krzyzewski could relax - at least, somewhat. He calmly jotted down notes near the scorer's table while his assistants - including newly hired Jeff Capel, the former Oklahoma coach who is one of four former Duke stars on the staff - took care of coaching the Blue and White teams during the scrimmage. The rosters were evenly divided, with expected starters on each team.
''It's easy (to not get too worked up not coaching) for this because, for the first couple weeks - even the exhibition games - we want to watch our team,'' Krzyzewski said. ''I think you can have preconceived notions about the way it's supposed to be, and sometimes, it's good to watch.''
The ongoing NBA lockout left a few pros with some free time on their hands. Former Duke stars J.J. Redick and Gerald Henderson - the judges for the dunk contest that followed the scrimmage - watched near the benches.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was on hand to check out his brother Seth, who was 8 of 13 from the field, hit three 3-pointers and made a key steal in the final seconds as the Blue rallied from 16 points down.
''Having so many young guys on this team this year, that's something I'll have to do,'' Curry said. ''Coach challenged me a lot to be a vocal leader as much as I can, to lead by example, so I just tried to do that tonight.''
And Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers sat a few rows behind the home bench to watch his son Austin show off a few highlight-reel moves that illustrated why he was one of the nation's highest-rated high school recruits.
He stopped his dribble at the 3-point line, paused to line up his shot and rattled in his first 3. About a minute later, with the shot clock winding down, he used a spin move to get past Curry and rolled in a jumper in the lane. And after his third 3-pointer in a 7-minute span, the Crazies chanted Rivers' full name for the first time. He finished with 14 points and had what Krzyzewski called ''a real spectacular first half.''
''I had a blast tonight,'' Rivers said.
Miles Plumlee finished the scrimmage with 15 points and won the brother-vs.-brother final in the dunk contest against Marshall Plumlee - who wound up being an accomplice on his big brother's winning slam. Marshall stood in the lane and covered his eyes while Miles hurdled him for a one-handed jam that drew straight 10s from the judges.
Any fear that Marshall would try to thwart his brother's attempt by turning around, blocking the dunk and winning the contest by default?
''He knows what would happen if he did that,'' Miles said, laughing. ''That didn't even cross my mind.''
Ryan Kelly added 12 points for the White.
Rivers, Cook and Marshall Plumlee were among the centerpieces of a highly regarded five-man recruiting class that is being counted upon to help fill in for two graduated four-year stars and an electrifying point guard whose only season at Duke was marred by a pesky toe injury.
Kyrie Irving's college career lasted just 11 games, but he showed enough skill and potential that he was picked No. 1 overall by Cleveland in the NBA draft. The Blue Devils also must find a way to replace four-year stars Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, both key contributors to their most recent national title-winning team in 2010 who were selected by NBA teams.
Krzyzewski has a few more weeks to sort out those answers before the Blue Devils have any games that count. Duke plays its first of two exhibition games Oct. 29 against Bellarmine, then tips off the regular season Nov. 11 against Belmont.
''It's our 32nd year'' at Duke, Krzyzewski told the crowd at halftime of the scrimmage. ''And it feels new all over again.''