Finals are Finished: Time for Basketball
Dec. 19, 2008
By Adam Kiefaber
CINCINNATI - It is time to put away the books and start playing some basketball, as both the Duke Blue Devils and Xavier Musketeers wrapped up their final exams this week and now have to face one another in a nationally broadcasted top-ten match-up at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., at 2 p.m. Saturday on CBS.
On Wednesday night, Duke stomped the University of North Carolina-Asheville by a score of 99-56 even though head coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to juggle his starting five. Prior to the win, the Blue Devils had an 11-day break in between games to focus on finals.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller gave his players days off on Sunday and Monday to focus on final exams as the team will continue to enjoy its seven-day break before its match-up with Duke.
"It is a week that takes a lot of energy out of you. I am glad that we are playing the game that we are playing because we don't have worry about our players getting up for this game," Miller said. "They are excited about it and I can't think of a better game to play at the end of final exams than this one."
Fresh off a 76-66 win over rival Cincinnati, Xavier moved up to No. 7 in both the Associated Press Poll and in the ESPN/USA Today Poll this week. The ranking in the AP ties a previous school record set in the Dec. 7, 1997 poll, while the ESPN/USA Today ranking is the best-ever ranking for the school in that poll.
"Xavier is having a terrific year, but that is not uncommon. They've been really one of the fine basketball programs...but the last five years, with going to the elite 8, now they're in the top ten, they've done a terrific job," Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski also mentioned in his teleconference with the media on Thursday the balance that Xavier possesses. He mentioned that if C.J. Anderson doesn't hurt you, B.J. Raymond, Derrick Brown or Danté Jackson will.
"First of all, they have a winning attitude. They're all together in the pursuit of one goal and that is to play well and win. They play hard, they're very good defensively, have excellent depth and there's really not one guy you can stop," Krzyzewski said.
If anyone knows about winning attitudes it is Krzyzewski, who currently has 739 career wins at Duke. He also has won three national championships and has been named the National Coach of the Year numerous times.
Currently, Duke has four different players that average double digits in scoring. The leader in that category is sophomore forward Kyle Singler with 16.6 points per game. He also averages 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Junior guard Jon Scheyer (13.3 ppg), sophomore guard Nolan Smith and junior guard/forward Gerald Henderson (10.7) round out the other top scorers. All four didn't start on Wednesday for the first time this season, but each did score around their average. Singler and Henderson each had 14 points, while Scheyer had 13 and Smith had 12.
Xavier will obviously have its hands full with a very talented Duke team this Saturday and in addition, the Musketeers appeared to be drained on Thursday afternoon due to a rigorous exam schedule and mandatory study sessions. However, the team will have no problem getting pumped up about this game.
"It doesn't get any bigger. You have the sixth and seventh best teams in the country on CBS. Everyone is going to be watching. It is going to be exciting," sophomore guard Danté Jackson said.
"I don't think they are going to need much of a pep talk for this game," Miller said. "If you can't get ready for Duke on CBS then you probably shouldn't be here."