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Coach K wins No. 699 in home town

This weekend in Chicago, it was all about Duke basketball. Krzyzewski was on the sidelines at the Bulls' home Saturday, coaching a one-sided Duke blowout as No. 10 Duke defeated Valparaiso, 93-61.

CHICAGO — This weekend in Chicago, it was all about Duke basketball.

Friday night, men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski sat in the stands at the United Center watching a two-sided Blue Devil brawl between Christian Laettner’s Miami Heat and Luol Deng and Chris Duhon’s Chicago Bulls.

Krzyzewski was on the sidelines at the Bulls’ home Saturday, coaching a one-sided Duke blowout as No. 10 Duke (5-0) defeated Valparaiso, 93-61.

Although Valparaiso (0-4) was considered the home team, Saturday’s game was a homecoming for Chicago natives Krzyzewski and point guard Sean Dockery, and the team certainly treated it as one.

There was a strong Blue Devil base in the arena Saturday, including more than 150 of Krzyzewski’s friends and family members. The Duke coach, who grew up in Chicago, was first attracted to college basketball watching NCAA double-headers across the street from where the United Center now stands.  

On the United Center court, Duke’s power was even stronger than it was in the stands, as the team easily dominated play from the start.  

Dockery, who played at Chicago’s Julian High School, showed his on-the-ball defensive strength as the Blue Devils’ defense shut down Valpo.

“Sean’s done a really good job for us. He doesn’t have to be in a scoring position,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s a good complement to Daniel [Ewing] and J.J. [Redick]. He puts really good pressure on the ball. A lot of the turnovers their point guard had were the result of Sean’s constant pressure.”

As a result of the Blue Devils’ aggressive defense, the Crusaders only took 25 shots in the first half. Point guard Jarryd Loyd had 10 turnovers on the game, and Duke scored 19 points off those mistakes.

“Our defense has been good all year, and we forced a lot of first-half turnovers,” Krzyzewski said. “That led to offense, and we got that big lead at halftime, and we were able to maintain it.”

Much of the Blue Devils’ 22-point first-half lead was the work of Redick, who controlled the offense with 19 points before halftime. The junior, who ended the game with 26 points, has been the key to the offense thus far this season, averaging 21.8 points during Duke’s first five games.

Redick’s on-target shooting dominated the offense, but the Blue Devils had four players in double figures, which cushioned Duke’s early advantage.

Freshman DeMarcus Nelson had a breakout game with a career-high 17 points. The guard, who had surgery on his thumb in late October, made six of his seven field goal attempts. With his thumb still wrapped in medical tape, however, Nelson shot just 4-for-9 from the free throw line.

“It’s still a little sore, but it’s going to be like that for a little time,” Nelson said of his thumb. “I was able to get in there and play hard defensively, which opened up my opportunities to score, get three-point plays.”

Ewing and Shelden Williams also had double-figure scoring games, with 14 and 16 points, respectively. The Blue Devils, however, struggled to gain low-post position early in the game. With the Crusaders’ 6-foot-10, 300-pound center Kenny Harris and 6-foot-8 forward Dan Oppland guarding the lane, Duke was unable to penetrate.

That all changed, however, after an emphatic dunk by Williams. With the game tied at 10, Williams took an entry pass, faked right, and dunked the ball right over Harris. Facing single coverage for the first time this season, he scored Duke’s next four points to begin a 22-5 run that effectively ended the Crusaders’ upset hopes.

Stemming primarily from entry passes to Williams, Dockery and Ewing each had six assists.

Although Williams was able to control entry feeds and get the ball to the hoop, Duke’s other big-man, Shavlik Randolph, struggled to gain position. Randolph had two fouls within the first two minutes of the game and recorded only two rebounds on the afternoon.  

“I think Shav just needs to go out there and have fun. I think he’s putting a lot of pressure on himself,” Redick said of his teammate, who has gotten off to a slow start this season.

Saturday’s victory in Chicago marked Krzyzewski’s 699th as a head coach. Though the 700-win mark is looming, the 25th-year Duke coach still reminisces about the beginning of his coaching career.

“It makes me feel lucky,” Krzyzewski said. “I can remember coaching at Army where if we got one [win], we felt really good about it. So for each game, I try to coach like I was at Army, so I will appreciate each game, and hopefully a number of them will be victories. I still have the passion to do that.”


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