Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Duke students forget about hoops at least one week



By DAVID DROSCHAK
AP Sports Writer

        DURHAM, N.C. — Steve Spurrier called to offer his congratulations. So did school president Nan Koehane — from an airport terminal. For at least one day, Duke football coach Carl Franks was as popular as Mike Krzyzewski.

        Franks, a former assistant under Spurrier at Florida, endured three years of misery at his alma mater, going 3-30, including consecutive 0-11 seasons.

        But the program's 23-game losing streak came tumbling down — along with the goal posts at Wallace Wade Stadium — on Saturday night as the Blue Devils surprised East Carolina 23-16.

        Groups of students walked past Cameron Indoor Stadium — the home of Duke's famous basketball program — on Monday afternoon and made a beeline for the football stadium.

        Some had camcorders, others just looked down on the field where the seventh-longest losing streak in NCAA history had ended less than 48 hours earlier.

        “There has been a lot of talk on campus, about what time the game is this weekend,” offensive lineman Rusty Wilson said.

        “We showed people that Duke is not all about basketball,” added defensive back Kenny Stanford.

        This Duke win was no fluke, although the game was played in a steady rain.

        It was a victory against an East Carolina program that had been to three straight bowl games and was anxious to get on the field after closing 2001 with three consecutive losses.

        But the Pirates were held to 155 total yards by a young Duke team that has just one senior on its roster.

        “They had a purpose about how they went about doing stuff since the end of last year,” Franks said of his team. “I guess that's why I enjoy coaching these guys so much. The resiliency they've shown over a long period of time when many, many people would have gotten down and questioned what they were being asked to do, questioning maybe some of the discipline, is amazing.

        “They were ready to go out and show people they were not the same football team people had seen before.”

        Franks was not sure how his team would fare, but knew in his heart he had recruited some young talent the past three years. He was confident until the middle of the week.

        “I looked in the paper for the first time in a long time to see what the point spread was,” Franks said. “I looked at it and I wished I hadn't. I knew they would be favored, but I was just curious.”

        Duke was a two-touchdown home underdog, something Franks considered a slap in the face.

        He fired his team up Saturday by walking them through the center of Duke's new football building, showing them the history and tradition the school has had in football.

        The Blue Devils then went out and claimed their first victory in football since November 1999.

        “You hold your head up a little higher,” Wilson said of his walk across campus on Labor Day. “People kind of notice you more now. It's a great feeling.”

        “I always have a smile on my face, but this week it's just a little bit bigger,” Stanford said.

        Next on Duke's schedule is Louisville, a preseason top 25 team that fell out of The Associated Press poll after being upset by Kentucky on Sunday night.

        Can Duke, a program that has been to just two bowls games since 1961, possibly start 2-0?

        Why not, Franks said.

        “We haven't done all this work and put everything we put into winning one game just to win one game,” Franks said. “That's not what the plan is all about, it's about having consistency, it's about being able to repeat your past good performances.

        “I don't think we'll have any problems celebrating too long. When you've lost that many games, you're too hungry. Hopefully, winning can become addictive. You want to have those feelings and build those memories that guys will have for the rest of their lives. That's one right there the other night that they'll have — and they'll want some more.”

       



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