Duke not at best with Obama in attendance

Staff writerJanuary 30, 2010 

— Senior guard Jon Scheyer was unusually quiet, even considering the fact that Duke had lost 89-77 to Georgetown on Saturday.

He was disappointed because President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were watching from front-row seats, and the Blue Devils played one of their worst games of the season.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “Not many people get that opportunity. And we didn’t take advantage of it.”

A mob of photographers snapped pictures as the president entered the arena shortly before the national anthem at the Verizon Center. President Obama, a former high school basketball player who regularly plays pick-up games, stood with his hand over his heart and sang the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Biden arrived shortly after tipoff and took a seat to President Obama’s left. The president joked a couple times with referee Bryan Kersey. At halftime, the president he shook hands with fans and talked with Washington Post columnist and ESPN Pardon The Interruption host Michael Wilbon.

At the first media timeout of the second half, the president went to the broadcast table near midcourt to be interviewed by Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg of CBS. The president and vice president stayed for all but the final 1 minute, 15 seconds, leaving to chants of, “USA, USA.”

The president did not speak to either team. His personal assistant, former Duke player Reggie Love, didn’t stop by to meet with the Blue Devils either.

President Obama’s appearance came on the heels of a phone call earlier in the week when he congratulated Kentucky on its fundraising for Haiti disaster relief and its No. 1 ranking. The Wildcats lost their next game.

His presence didn’t help Duke, either. But coach Mike Krzyzewski appreciated his attendance.

“For the president and vice president to be here and show their support of college basketball is spectacular, and I think that’s the best,” Krzyzewski said. “And he generated a lot of excitement. It’s neat to see our country excited about their president. I mean, that’s a cool thing.”

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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