Trip offers players relief from schoolwork

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - A snowstorm that tore through the Northeast this weekend may have been a blessing in disguise for the Blue Devils.

Duke had originally planned to fly to New Jersey Friday in preparation for Saturday's game in Continental Airlines Arena. But the threat of snow caused head coach Mike Krzyzewski to revise his team's travel plans and leave Thursday night instead.

The extra time away from Durham allowed the team to escape the grind of end-of-the-semester papers and exams, and instead focus on basketball.

"It's been a really tough week academically for us, just before exams," Krzyzewski said. "We hadn't played as well our past two ballgames. One, because we played two really good teams and, also, because we were just fried mentally."

Duke practiced at the New Jersey Nets' practice facility Friday, and Krzyzewski said the team looked loose and ready to play No. 2 Texas the following day on national television.

"I knew we were going to play well," Krzyzewski said. "We were so much more relaxed. All the stuff we had to do academically was over for three days."

The Blue Devils were especially under pressure with their schoolwork because of all the time missed recently for road trips. The players missed a day of classes each for the trips to New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off and Bloomington, Ind. for the tilt with Indiana.

"At this time of year at our school you have to make it up with tutors," Krzyzewski said. "It's a really tough week. I could sense them feeling a relief. They were in a good mood these last two days."

After the blowout win, the team now turns its attention to final exams before Duke resumes play next Sunday night at home against Valparaiso. Tuesday will be the only day the Blue Devils take completely off from team activities, but players are allowed to miss practice as they see fit, Krzyzewski said.

The team's positive attitude after the win may be short-lived, however, Krzyzewski warned.

"These guys will be humbled over the next week by exams," he said. "Hopefully not too much."


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