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Duke opens tourney in Maui

LAHAINA, Hawaii-There are some images you would expect to see on a 7:30 morning jog 10 yards from the coastline of the Pacific Ocean on a beautiful Sunday in Maui.

Perhaps Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is not one of them.

Making the scenic mile-long trek on the Hawaiian brownstone to a press conference as if he were walking briskly onto the Cameron floor, Krzyzewski could not help but look a bit out-of-place. Joggers pointed as they maneuvered to the Hall of Famer's left, questioning whether they actually had seen what they just saw. Fathers knelt down to whisper in their sons' ears, telling boys too young even to remember Duke's last NCAA title about the man standing merely two feet away. And then, there were the boldest of passers-by, the ones who uttered a confident, "Morning, Coach!" and got a Krzyzewskian nod of acknowledgement in return.

Yet, for as novel as Krzyzewski's appearance on the shoreline seemed that morning, his presence at the Maui Invitational has been anything but. When Duke tips off against Princeton tonight at 9 p.m. in the Lahaina Civic Center, the coach will be looking for an all-time tournament record-tying 10th win to add to his already-impressive island résumé. His Blue Devils have taken three Maui Invitational crowns-one more than Michigan, North Carolina and Syracuse, the only other teams to ever repeat. Winning nine games en route to those titles, Duke has yet to drop a contest in college basketball paradise.

"Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Jason Williams, [Mike] Dunleavy, [Steve] Wojciechowski-you have to have really good players," Krzyzewski said when asked of his secret to winning in Hawaii. "Pretty veteran teams have come here, and with really good players. And we've been lucky."

This year, Krzyzewski hopes his balance of seasoned upperclassmen and talented freshmen can provide the same result to a slightly different equation. With five Blue Devils averaging in double figures, including freshmen Kyle Singler and Taylor King, and nine players clocking significant minutes, the Duke scoring attack is deeper and faster than it was a season ago.

Sophomore Jon Scheyer has thrived in his role off the bench and leads the team in scoring after putting up a game-high 22 points in an 86-61 victory over New Mexico State. And the 6-foot-8 Singler has lived up to his ACC preseason rookie of the year billing, chipping in an average of 12.5 points and six rebounds per contest to date.

The Blue Devils should match-up well with a smaller Tigers' squad that features 6-foot-9 sophomore center Zach Finley, who averaged 18 points in Princeton's wins this week over Central Connecticut State and Iona.

The Tigers, in contrast to their first-round opponents, are making their Maui Invitational debut tonight, becoming the first Ivy League school to participate in the Thanksgiving tradition. Led by first-year head coach Sydney Johnson, who was an assistant at Georgetown for three seasons before returning to his alma mater last spring, Princeton has relied heavily on its pair of senior forwards Kyle Koncz and Noah Savage to provide consistency on and off the court.

"We're still running our stuff, still passing, dribbling, shooting," Johnson said. "Now we certainly have a challenge in front of us, but we're grateful and excited for this opportunity."

With teams such as Marquette, LSU, Illinois, Arizona State and Oklahoma State also in the Invitational's field, this mix of old and new-of players, coaches and approaches to the game-is as striking as Krzyzewski walking down the beach in the early morning Hawaiian sun.

The Blue Devils, however, hope that when it all comes to an end Wednesday night, the sight of hoisting hardware will be the same as always.


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