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Duke, Jarvis II to take on Red Storm

“Revenge” is a dirty word.

Although none of the Blue Devils would readily admit it, revenge, or at the very least pride, will be on the line when they face St. John’s Saturday at 1 p.m. in Madison Square Garden. This will be the first time Duke (20-4) meets the Red Storm (9-15) since the firing of Mike Jarvis, the long time St. John’s coach who is also a personal friend of head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Last season Jarvis was saddled with a team that had already been decimated because of numerous ethics violations. The undermanned St. John’s team began the 2003-2004 season with a horrendous 2-4 start that included an embarrassing 79-58 defeat at the hands of the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium Dec. 6.

Less than a week after that loss, Jarvis was fired, and the very next day Krzyzewski publicly showed his support for his close friend. The Duke head coach personally invited Jarvis to sit with his family during the Blue Devils’ 89-61 win over Texas at Madison Square Garden Dec. 20.

This fall, Krzyzewski strengthened his close relationship by tapping Jarvis’ son, Mike Jarvis II, to serve as assistant development director and head team manager.

Since his father’s firing, Jarvis II has done his best to avoid any feelings of ill will towards the St. John’s program.

“I don’t have any personal feelings,” he said. “Obviously it will be kind of weird at first, but I think once they throw the ball up it’s competition, and you’re out there to win.”

Although senior Daniel Ewing emphasized that payback would not be the primary motivating factor against the Red Strom, he did hint that a victory would be a little a sweeter than usual.

“I’m not sure,” Ewing said of the emotions that might come into play Saturday. “Coach hasn’t said anything about it. We’ll go up there and try to play our game and go up there to win. Hopefully, if we win we can do whatever we want to do with the game ball and dedicate it to whoever.”

There has also been speculation that Jarvis II, a former St. John’s assistant, might have some secret tips for beating his former employers.

“If he has, then he hasn’t let it out yet,” Ewing said.

Ideally, the Blue Devils should not need any inside information to beat the Red Storm. Although the Red Storm upset Duke 72-71 the last time they hosted the Blue Devils, this year’s team pales in comparison to the 2002-2003 squad that finished the season 16-13.

This year, St. John’s is 9-15 overall, and has only won three games since starting conference play. It is 1-5 against teams in the top 25—the lone victory was a 65-62 victory over No. 18 Pittsburgh Jan. 18.

The sub-.500 record is slightly misleading, however, when viewed in the context of the Red Storm’s last four games. St. John’s lost back-to-back games against Seton Hall and Virginia by a two-point and one-point margin, respectively. It followed those games with a win over Georgetown and a deceptively lopsided loss to No.15 Syracuse.

The Red Storm lost that game 83-69, but the Orange only narrowly outscored St. John’s 40-39 in the second half. Red Storm junior Darryl Hill shot 7-for-13 from downtown en route to a season-high 33 points. The Queens, N.Y., native is averaging 20.5 points per game this season.

The Blue Devils will also have to find a way to cope with the loss of junior guard Sean Dockery, who is out indefinitely with a torn MCL in his right knee. The devastating injury will force the Blue Devils to once again dig deep into their bench.

“We have a lot of people coming of the bench now, and our bench guys have been extending their playing time,” junior Shelden Williams said. “Lee came in last game and had great minutes. Big Patrick Johnson and little Patrick Davidson came in with some good minutes. The guys who you wouldn’t think of playing last year are playing right now. We have to depend on each other.”

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