DURHAM, N.C. — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was dejected after the third-ranked Blue Devils struggled to score in a 73-68 loss at Virginia.
He was enraged after the final buzzer, when fans stormed the court and he was very vocal in his opinion that the losing team should first be given a chance to clear the floor before the celebratory mosh pit ensues.
“Look do you know how close you are to, just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches,” Krzyzewski said after the game. “I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach you’re a,” or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.
“I’m always concerned about stuff like that, especially at this time of the year. What if that happened and we get a kid suspended? That becomes the national story. It’s not all fun and games when people are rushing the court, especially for the team that lost. Again, congratulations to them, and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff. I’m all for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court. That’s the bottom line.”
Duke was in a very similar situation Jan. 13 after losing 84-76 at North Carolina State and Feb. 16 at Maryland. The Terrapins won that night 83-81. After that loss, Krzyzewski was more upset in his postgame press conference that Maryland was going to the Big Ten.
“If it was such a rivalry, they’d still be in the ACC. Obviously, they don’t think it’s that important, or they wouldn’t be (going to) the Big Ten,” he said.
On Saturday, Duke will have a chance to avenge an earlier loss to Miami.
Miami’s Kenny Kadji remembers fans close enough to touch.
Jim Larranaga chuckles thinking about the insults lobbed his direction.
Shane Larkin just smiles.
They’ve all escaped Cameron Indoor Stadium with more than their lives once before. The core the Miami’s basketball team has a win to show for its last trip to Duke, but the stakes have shifted this time. The Hurricanes aren’t surprising anyone like they did during last season’s 78-74 overtime win in the cramped confines of Duke’s iconic home arena.
The 6 p.m. meeting between top-5 teams could give Miami (23-4, 14-1 ACC) its first outright conference title in school history. Duke has revenge in mind.
Students began camping out Monday for the rematch of No. 5 Miami’s 90-63 Blue Devil deconstruction back on Jan. 23. The disputed second-half floor slapping incident meant different things to both sides, but third-ranked Duke hasn’t forgotten the burn.
“They embarrassed us in a lot of different ways other than just the floor slap,” Duke guard Seth Curry told reporters Thursday night. “We just want to get back out there.”
Late in the January win, Miami players slapped the floor on defense as Duke players have done for years. Several Hurricanes have said they meant no disrespect, but Duke players said they took offense.
So the Blue Devils may have an emotional edge, but the Hurricanes will have the benefit of extra rest and preparation time.
Duke (24-4, 11-4 ACC) didn’t get home to Durham until early Friday morning after a disappointing 73-66 loss at Virginia. It only further exemplified the challenge of playing on the road, where Miami has struggled in its last three trips. It culminated with a 15-point loss at Wake Forest a week ago.
The heat rose as did the Hurricanes’ ranking, but nothing will compare to Saturday evening in the 9,314-seat Cameron Indoor Stadium. Miami senior Trey McKinney Jones knows Duke’s “going to be gunning for their heads,” in a figurative way.
The legendary “Cameron Crazies” and their clever hecklers drew cautious praise from Larranaga.
“Every time I go there, the creativity is truly amazing,” he said with a smile. He declined to cite examples. “Some of them will probably be writing comedy after they graduate.”
Duke is 798-153 all-time in Cameron Indoor Stadium for an 83 percent win rate. That jumps to 93 percent in the last 265 games, with the Blue Devils recording 247 wins. Every game since 1990 has been sold out and the hype is at rivalry-level for this one.
But the student body can only impact so much. Kadji, who scored 15 points off 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range in last year’s road win, promised he didn’t hear anything said to him.
The Blue Devils had been playing better before Thursday’s loss in Charlottesville. Curry has broken the 20-point barrier six times since being held scoreless in Coral Gables as Duke adjusted to life without injured starter Ryan Kelly.
Don’t expect Kelly, a 6-foot-11 sharpshooter, back in the lineup Saturday even if he’s starting to practice again. Larranaga said the Blue Devils look much more comfortable playing without Kelly at this point in the season. He had been out only two games when Miami ran them out of the BankUnited Center.
And they aren’t playing in the land of palm trees this time.
Miami’s headed to the ultimate hostile territory in college basketball. They’re not going to be caught off guard, Kadji promised.
“They’re ready,” he said. “They’re coached by Coach K, who in my opinion, is the best coach in the world. He’s going to have them ready. The whole school is going to be ready so to be, it’s the best game of the year.”