by Mike Potter
(This story is not by Mike Potter but by Al Drago, an IndyWeek sports photographer and Elon photojournalist.)
DURHAM/CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM—Duke basketball fans got their first taste of the new season as the Blue Devils hosted their annual “Countdown to Craziness” event Friday evening in a sold-out Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Players entered the court through a stage that resembled a plane, which is fitting considering how much traveling the players have already done. The team played a series of exhibition games on tours in China and Dubai back in August, which they won all four games.
But according to senior Miles Plumlee, it’s good to be back home.
“Seeing the fans out there before, it was unreal," Plumlee said. "I felt like it was a real game. It was just so much fun and it was a great way to get us started for the season."
The team played a Blue-White scrimmage followed by a dunk contest judged by a pair of alumni currently in the NBA, Gerald Henderson and J.J. Redick.
This year’s team is young with five freshmen on the roster. Among them is Austin Rivers, a 6-4 shooting guard who is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers sank three 3-pointers early in the scrimmage.
“It's crazy how time flies," Rivers said. "I can think back to when Quinn [Cook] and I and the other recruits were sitting there watching the game, and now that we're there playing, it's crazy."
As coach Mike Krzyzewski thanked the crowd for coming out at halftime, he also was hopeful for his team's future success.
“We haven’t lost here for a couple of years," Krzyzewski said. "It would be nice to (go undefeated at home) again.”
His reference was to the fact that Duke has had 36 consecutive wins at home since February 2009. On the upper wall of the stadium was a sign with large numbers that read “900 Kounting,” a countdown until Kryzewski surpasses coaching legend Bob Knight with 903 wins for the NCAA Division I win record.
But for now Blue Devil fans will have to wait until the regular season tips off next month.
With five freshmen, three Plumlee brothers and one Coach K, the 2011-12 season is beginning in fine style.