HOUSTON—"We have eight guys. Come on. Four of them are freshmen. It's the youngest team I've ever had."
That was head coach Mike Krzyzewski's defense for his players looking simply baffled by the process of how to cut down the nets after celebrating their South Regional Championship Sunday evening.
First it was Marshall Plumlee, climbing the ladder and staring at the net for a few moments. He attempted to make the first cut and was startled to find his entire team yelling at him that he was cutting in the wrong spot. After recomposing himself, he tried again, in a different spot. Same result. Finally, third time was the charm for Plumlee, and he was able to successfully get his small piece of the net.
That was just the first issue when it came to cutting the nets for the Blue Devils.
“I didn’t know what was going on," Jahlil Okafor candidly admitted. "We didn’t know how to cut it off the rim or anything."
One by one, the rest of the Blue Devils climbed the ladder to get their piece of the net. And more often than not, the player was overwhelmed by doing so. Multiple guys couldn't figure out where to cut. Nick Pagliuca was left holding scissors and couldn't figure out who to give them to. Quinn Cook needed help tying his string to his new Final Four hat. Everyone was confused as to what to do with the other net and how to undo that little loop that connected the net to the rim.
It was all difficult for Duke.
Even Krzyzewski, who had gone to 11 Final Fours before advancing to another Sunday evening, couldn't get the net just right, sending Sean Obi back up the ladder a second time to get the little bits of the net that were still stuck while the rest of it was being worn around Quinn Cook's neck. Cook himself couldn't enjoy cutting the net down because, as it turns out, he's afraid of heights.
What'll happen to the net now that it's finally been successfully removed?
“If [I do keep it], I’ll give it to my mom," Cook said. "If I can keep it, but they’ll probably put it in a trophy case or something.”
It's not quite making a hammock of it to rest on his laurels, a la Christian Laettner, but at least it's something.
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