'Together' is the mantra at Duke's Countdown to Craziness

lkeeley@newsobserver.comOctober 20, 2012 

— There were no gimmicks or frills in Duke’s version of midnight madness, Countdown to Craziness. In their place was a simple, one-word refrain hammered home by Mike Krzyzewski at the end of the night.


“It’s not about us playing for you,” Krzyzewski told the fans after the scrimmage “It’s all of us doing it together.”

The together mantra – repeated every time Duke breaks a huddle with each player putting his fist in the middle – was emphasized starting in the summer.

“This summer, when everyone got together, I felt like it wasn’t forced,” Cook said. “I felt last year that we kind of forced being together, but this year, everybody has gelled.”

Cook, the unquestioned point guard, led both of his teams to victories in two 10-minute, intrasqaud scrimmages. The starting five – Cook, Alex Murphy, Rasheed Sulaimon, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee — beat the reserves 26-15 in the first period of play. For the second scrimmage, Cook and Kelly teamed up again as they, along with Rodney Hood, Todd Zafirovski and Amile Jefferson, led a come-from-behind, 29-18 victory.

Sulaimon was a more-than-adequate replacement for Seth Curry, who has been slowed by an undisclosed leg injury that Krzyzewski has said could plague him all year. Sulaimon led all scorers with 10 points in the second scrimmage, which included back-to-back threes on a night where Duke sank just four.

“I had chills,” Sulaimon said of his first appearance in a Duke uniform. “It was kind of dark when we first came out, so I didn’t really see everyone, but I could just feel the energy. It gave me chills. I’ve dreamed about this my whole life, and it’s finally here.”

Much like Sulaimon has dreamed, Krzyzewski encouraged all of Cameron Indoor Stadium to imagine the possibilities for this team. After recounting the highlights of his 33-year tenure, including the Blue Devils’ four national championships, Krzyzewski introduced a video showing Duke teams of old. There was Jason Williams slapping the floor, Kyle Singler diving into press row after a ball, Bobby Hurley bleeding, and Austin Rivers sinking his buzzer-beater shot against North Carolina.

“I’d like for you to imagine if we all did this together just how good we could be,” he said. “Hopefully playing on Monday and winning in April.”

Cook and Plumlee were in sync early, connecting on two alley-oops in the first scrimmage as the starters raced out to a 24-10 lead. Plumlee led the White team with eight points while Josh Hairston put up eight of his own for the Blue squad.

“We’ve been waiting for a crowd for a long time,” Plumlee said. “Last summer we went to China, we had that experience, we were on TV, but this is the first time you guys have gotten to see us, and I think a lot of guys liked showing what they’ve been working on in the offseason.”

One fan in attendance received special recognition before the opening tip. Robert Lefkowitz, the Duke professor who recently won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, was presented with a jersey by Krzyzewski. After removing his glasses to pull it over his head, fans serenaded him with chants of “he’s so smart.”

The night ended with another unison cheer. All the fans extended one fist, and, along with the players, counted, “one, two, three, together.”

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