This was the summer when Duke lost both its innocence and its
experience. After his highly favored Blue Devils were upset by
Connecticut in the national title game last March, Duke coach
Mike Krzyzewski endured painful hip replacement surgery, followed
by four debilitating player extractions. The Blue Devils'
program, which had never had a player leave early for the NBA,
shuddered as sophomores William Avery and Elton Brand and
freshman Corey Maggette departed to become first-round picks.
Meanwhile, disgruntled sophomore center Chris Burgess transferred
to Utah and guard Trajan Langdon graduated. "Sometimes friends
move out of the neighborhood," Krzyzewski says. "If all that
happens at most other schools, it's a disaster, but nobody here
is moping around saying, 'Where's Elton?'"
Duke lost 74% of its scoring and 64% of its rebounding, and with
all the hammering going on this fall at Cameron Indoor Stadium--a
$17 million athletic complex is being built next door--it seems
one can hear Krzyzewski's furious rebuilding job. The Devils will
replace five departed former McDonald's All-Americas with four
new ones. The best newcomers are Carlos Boozer, a 6'9", 260-pound
Brand knockoff who will play center once he's fully recovered
from his broken left foot (he's practicing already); Mike
Dunleavy Jr., the 6'7" pure-shooting son of the Portland
Trailblazers' coach; and fleet 6'2" Jason Williams, the first
true freshman to start for Duke at point guard since Bobby Hurley
in '89. "I have to admit I was kind of mad when all those veteran
stars left," Williams says. "It means that all the freshmen have
to grow up much quicker."
The rookies will be mentored by Duke's junior defensive ace Shane
Battier and lone senior Chris Carrawell. "With so many great
players on our team last year, people kept saying Shane and I
were underrated," Carrawell says. "Now we'll get a chance to see
if they were right."
Acknowledging his team's inexperience, Krzyzewski staged just the
second Midnight Madness practice of his 20 seasons at Duke to
expose his freshmen to the glare of college ball as quickly as
possible. He was too late. Ten hours earlier and more than three
weeks before his first game, Williams was asked by a reporter:
"Jason, when do you think you'll go pro?"
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES Breakout year? Carrawell knows that he must shed his "underrated" label if the Blue Devils are to be highly rated.
POS. HT. CLASS KEY STAT
SF Chris Carrawell 6'6" Sr. 9.9 ppg
PF Shane Battier 6'8" Jr. 9.1 ppg
C Carlos Boozer 6'9" Fr. 29.0 ppg*
SG Nate James 6'5" Jr. 5.0 ppg
PG Jason Williams 6'2" Fr. 24.0 ppg*
1998-99 record: 37-2 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 2
Returning starter *As high school senior