Duke comfortable with underdog role

CorrespondentOctober 13, 2012 

— Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski made one thing clear Friday – he judges teams on what they do during the season rather than what they did in the offseason.

“I’d rather see somebody and then tell you what I think,” Krzyzewski said at the team’s media day. “I would rather be praised for what we’ve done, not for the expectations of what we are supposed to do.

“We get enough attention, so we’re OK.”

N.C. State finished last season in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and added three McDonald’s All-American players in the offseason.

North Carolina, meanwhile, finished the season in the Elite Eight.

As for Duke, the season ended abruptly with a loss to the No. 15 seed Lehigh in the first round.

“Those teams have good players and they should get national attention,” Duke senior forward Mason Plumlee said.

“They had good ends to last year. But we need to stay focused on us. We don’t play an ACC game until January, so it’s not like we can beat them tomorrow.”

By this time of year in seasons past, the focus shifted from the football team to basketball. However, this year’s Duke football team is 5-1, with a chance at being bowl eligible for the first time in 17 years.

Plumlee said not having that added pressure can be a good thing.

“Any time you can just focus on what you’re doing and not the hype is good,” Plumlee said. “Some guys see that as pressure, but you just never know.”

Outside of the Triangle, Maryland and Florida State have both made a splash with returning players that are returning and successful recruiting.

But Krzyzewski said the only time he notices other teams in the offseason is when he is competing with them for a recruit.

“I really don’t follow the other teams,” Kryzyzewki Krzyzewski said. “A long time ago I got advice to just do your thing and you’ll be good. Coach (Vic) Bubas said that to me 33 years ago … and I’ve tried to follow that advice.”

With attention on the rest of the ACC and the season that coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke football team are having, the Duke basketball team might not be as nationally publicized as in years past.

But senior guard Seth Curry said one thing is for certain – they won’t be sneaking up on anyone.

“I don’t think we’re going to surprise anyone,” Curry said with a laugh. “Maybe we can surprise some fans or media members, but not teams.

“When they see that Duke on our jerseys, they’re going to give us their best shot regardless of where we’re ranked.”

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