Christian Laettner says things haven't changed too much around the Duke campus even though the Blue Devils won the NCAA championship in April.
``The only thing,' he said, ``is that people use a few different words. Last year and the year before they would say 'congratulations. Maybe you'll get it next year.'``This year they say 'congratulations, congratulations,' because that means we got it all.
``But really, too much hasn't changed.'
But Laettner understands that things will change, because the Blue Devils are now in the same position as UNLV a year ago. After the Rebs had beaten Duke for the 1990 title, the immediate question was ``Can Vegas repeat?'
Laettner said he got a quick taste of repeat mania.
``It's kind of pathetic,' Laettner said last week, ``because 10 minutes after the Kansas game, people were already talking about repeating. We're celebrating, going crazy and people are shoving mikes in your mouth saying 'Are you gonna repeat? Are you gonna repeat?'
``That's bad. You should be able to enjoy what you've accomplished.'
Laettner said that question could be asked in the fall.
``I always tell you guys (the media) that,' he said. ``I won't know how good Cherokee Parks will play or Erik Meek will play until I've seen them. I've never seen them play. And I don't know how we'll be as a team until I see us. Even Coach K can't tell.
``That's why I'm not thinking about it now. We'll all think about it in the fall.'
One thing Laettner said the team will have to find quickly is chemistry.
``We may not have the tools or the individuals on our team to win another national title,' Laettner said. ``Last year we had the perfect fit, the perfect team working together. Next year we might not have that.'
Meanwhile, Laettner is working on getting better, mostly by pumping iron in the weight room. He has been lifting two or three days a week. Since the season ended he has not played that much.
``I've taken time off from the basketball court,' he said, ``but I'm still doing a lot of things for basketball. Some players need to play a lot. I don't think I need to, because I don't think any players in the country practice or play more during the season than Duke players.
``I've had May and June and a little bit of July to lift, and now I have one month (practice and playing in the Pan Am Games) to play. Then it's home for two weeks, just like every summer.'\
NO SURPRISES. Laettner said he wasn't surprised that Billy McCaffrey and Crawford Palmer left.
``At the end of the season you always look at your teammates and picture which kids might transfer,' Laettner said. ``Billy left for a reason I totally understand. He wants to play in the NBA like any college player and he knows he can't do it as a shooting guard. He wants to play point and improve his stock.
``And Crawford wanted to play in the NBA too, but knew he couldn't do it playing 10 minutes a game.'
Their leaving, he said, wouldn't change anything next year. ``Someone will step up.'
Laettner, however, said he'd never leave Duke because of athletics.
``I remember kids coming to Duke saying I'm here for academics and athletics. To transfer for basketball reasons. I don't like that. I came for both. I would not transfer if the athletics were bad. A Duke degree is still better than any I could get.'\
WIMP QUIP. When it appeared his South team wouldn't win a game in the Olympic Festival, coach Wimp Sanderson of Alabama said:
``We're as bad as a left-handed lawn mower.'\
ON THE MEND. Duke recruit Erik Meek is continuing to recover after being struck by a drunken driver a month ago. The most serious injury is a puncture wound to his left hamstring that went all the way to the bone.
Meek is walking again and plans to be in Durham by August. How much he'll be able to play and when are uncertain.\
NO POINT. Donald Williams, in town for the East-West All-Star Game, said Friday he doesn't expect to play point guard when he takes the floor for North Carolina this fall, despite the fact the Tar Heels have only one proven point guard, Derrick Phelps, and no experienced back up.
``The coaches told me they don't want to play me at point,' Williams said. ``They don't want to put that kind of pressure on me.'
The point guard spot is probably the most important in the Tar Heel system. The point man runs the offense, calls the defensive sets and has to be the coach on the floor - quite a load for a freshman.
Williams says he feels more comfortable at shooting guard.\
FUTURE SHACK. His name is Meshack Williams. He's 6-8. He wears size 16 1/2 shoes. He weighs 225 pounds. And he's 13 - that's right - 13 years old.
The Seattle, Wash., youngster has grown a couple of inches in the last year and has added some weight. He's expected to be at least 7 feet tall. And who knows how heavy.
According to his coach, Michael Preston, a recent meal for Williams consisted of nine pieces of chicken, six biscuits and half a pizza.
Right now his best skills are rebounding and shot blocking. He's working on low post moves and developing a better shooting touch.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!