NCAA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP : Notes : Duke’s Man-to-Man Defense Will Be a Challenge for Men of Louisville
Duke, a private, richly endowed university, is not a blue-collar school. But it has a blue-collar basketball team.
The Blue Devils don’t have a flair for showmanship, dazzling fast breaks and rim-rattling jams. They win the old-fashioned way. They earn it--with defense.
Duke’s defense, which took Kansas’ Danny Manning and Greg Dreiling out of Saturday’s semifinal game, will prove decisive in the championship game tonight against Louisville, according to some experts.
Pete Newell, who coached a no-name California team to the NCAA championship in 1959, is impressed with Duke’s defensive style. So is Alabama Birmingham Coach Gene Bartow and Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins.
“Duke plays a real tough, kind of an old-fashioned man-to-man defense, which isn’t played much today, and is difficult to adjust to,” said Newell, who is a guru to many college coaches today, notably Indiana’s Bob Knight.
“When you do encounter it, you don’t have the experience of having met it before. On the other hand, I think Louisville has more top athletes than any of the four teams here. They have a good bench and what I like about them is that they play their best in critical parts of the game.
“Louisville has peaked but it is going to have some problems with Duke’s defense. Duke isn’t a pretty team to watch but it plays intelligently and together. It’s a real testimony to Duke’s character that it has met all the challenges as a No. 1 team.”
Newell addded that Louisville subtly changes the tempo of the game as it did in its semifinal victory over LSU.
“They played a soft man-to-man defense in the first half and then put a little more pressure on LSU in the second half when they made their run. If Louisville gets Duke into a running game, then Louisville’s athletic ability will be a determining factor.”
Bartow, whose UAB team lost to Duke earlier in the season, predicts that the Blue Devils will win.
“Both teams have great players and great coaches and Duke’s defense may be the best in college basketball,” Bartow said. “Duke runs eight or nine players at you and just grinds you down with denial, tough man-to-man defense. And I believe they’ll grind Louisville down just as they did to Kansas and other teams over the course of the year. I just think Duke is the best basketball team and it has a guard in Johnny Dawkins who’ll get his points whatever happens.”
Cremins admits that he is biased because Duke is upholding the honor of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“What I love about Duke is that they’re a great defensive team. They have the talent, character and coaching to go all the way,” Cremins said.
Knight wore a Duke blue blazer adorned with a Duke button to Saturday’s game. He is proud of the accomplishments of his disciple, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played for and was later an assistant coach under Knight at Army.
‘There are tough matchups for both teams,” Knight said. " I think that Dawkins will be a tough matchup for Louisville. I really don’t think that Louisville’s guards (Milt Wagner and Jeff Hall) are as good as Duke’s guards (Dawkins and Tommy Amaker).
“But I also think that Billy Thompson and Pervis Ellison become a tough matchup for Duke. Inside, Mark Alarie will create some problems for Louisville that LSU didn’t because it stopped going to John Williams in the second half. But Duke will keep going to Alarie as much as they can.”
Now for an off the wall prediction from North Carolina State Coach Jim Valvano.
“Louisville has a good shot at winning the title. They won it in 1980 when I was the Iona coach. We beat Louisville in Madison Square Garden that year.
“I’m not sure how many people know this, but who was the last team to beat Louisville before their current winning (16) streak? North Carolina State was the team. Tradition is on their side.”
George Raveling, USC’s new coach, reportedly got a contract worth $150,000 including a media package, it was learned. If he doesn’t get a radio or TV show, his money is still guaranteed.
Iowa freshman forward Roy Marble may follow Raveling to USC, according to a Big Ten source. It’s believed that Marble, a 6-5 forward, will transfer to USC in the near future, then redshirt for one season until he’s eligible.
Louisville Coach Denny Crum told Wagner that he was playing like a freshman in the first half of Saturday’s game with LSU. Wagner missed four of six shots from the field and had four turnovers.
“You’re a senior and supposed to be a leader, but you’re not playing like a senior guard,” Crum told Wagner at halftime.
Wagner became a senior in the second half, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists.
“At first I wanted to get mad,” said Wagner. “Then I looked at the stats and saw everything I had done wrong and I realized he was right.
“This is my third time in the Final Four and I wanted so badly for us to win. We lost in the semifinals the last two times (1982 and ’83) and I just wanted to get us into the final game. I was pushing too hard (in the first half). I was forcing it.”
What were LSU forward Don Redden’s thoughts after Louisville made a 13-point run in the second half that changed a 54-48 deficit into a 61-54 lead?
“I was hoping they would pass out,” he said.
How do you stop Louisville’s fast break?
“Break their legs before the game,” Redden said.
Mark Alarie, Duke’s senior 6-8 forward, commenting on how he restricted Danny Manning, Kansas’ 6-11 sophomore forward, to only four points in Saturday’s semifinal game:
“There were two things I wanted to do. First was to deny him the ball, which is the basic component of our defense. The second thing was to force him to take some jump shots. From watching films I learned that he wasn’t a set jump shooter.
“His forte is taking the ball to the hole and using the shot fake. He is deceptively quick for his size and he can be by you in a minute. He didn’t play well and he would be the first one to admit it.”
Manning did, saying, “He did the best job that, perhaps, anyone has done on me all year. He had a hand in my face and I took some shots I shouldn’t have. I had a terrible game. It’s very frustrating.”
With the nation’s college basketball coaches here for their annual meeting, rumors are rampant about coaching changes.
Here’s one: Stanford Coach Tom Davis has been offered the Houston job but he is also interviewing for the Iowa job that was vacated by Raveling.
Times staff writer Tracy Dodds in Dallas contributed to this story.