NCAA tournament: No revenge card for West Virginia, Duke


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West Virginia beat Duke, 73-67, in the second round of the 2008 NCAA tournament but both coaches Monday downplayed the significance of that game in terms of what it will mean Saturday when the two teams meet again in Indianapolis in the Final Four.

Although a number of players who played key roles in that game are still on the teams, both teams were built around star players who have graduated or left school for the NBA.

And because of that, the two teams are different, particularly Duke, which is a much more physical team this year than it was in 2008 and has proven it in the NCAA tournament with wins against teams such as Baylor.

Duke (33-5) also is a much better defensive team than it had been; the Blue Devils are taller and rebound and defend the post better than they did two years ago.

"I'm sure both staffs will look at [the film from the 2008 game]," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Monday on the Final Four coaches teleconference. "The players are different now, but we will review that game just to try to recall some things about it. But it is not about two years ago, that is just too long to go back [to try to use the revenge angle as motivation].

"This is about this Final Four. Like I said, we will definitely look at it and see if there are any things that we did then that we still do. But I don't really remember that game very well, we've play a lot of games since then."

One thing that Krzyzewski said he does remember from that game is West Virginia guard Joe Mazzulla. Mazzulla had a huge game and probably was the difference maker for the Mountaineers (31-6).

Mazzulla scored 13 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had 8 assists in 31 minutes and made four free throws in the final two minutes to seal the win.

"Mazzulla had a phenomenal performance against us, he almost had a triple-double that day," Krzyzewski said. "He is one of those really tough competitors, he will fight you, and I think because of that his skill level isn't given enough credit. He is a really good basketball player in addition to all those other things.

"The plays he made down the stretch [Saturday in West Virginia's Elite Eight win against Kentucky], those were really good basketball plays. He is going to fight you for the full 40 minutes."

Two Duke players who played extensively in that game are junior forward Kyle Singler and senior guard Jon Scheyer. Singler had six points and four rebounds in 27 minutes in that game; Scheyer played 29 minutes and had 15 points.

Those two are now the Blue Devils' stars and leading scorers and both are tough matchups because of their ability to score. Scheyer leads the team (18.2 ppg) while Singler averages 17.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, like Krzyzewski, said he'll look at the film from the 2008 game even though he isn't sure how relevant it is.

He said not only have a number of key players from both teams moved on, but also the ones who remain, such as West Virginia senior Da'Sean Butler, are much better players than they were two years ago.

In that game, West Virginia outrebounded Duke, 45-19, but Huggins said he knows it won't be nearly that easy on the glass this time around because the Blue Devils' big men have improved so much.

"What Mike has done with his big guys is really amazing," Huggins said. "They really rebound the basketball now, and against Baylor, the big thing down the stretch was they were able to kick it out for open shots. They do a great job of that."


NOTE -- Huggins was asked about the status of injured guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant (broken bone in foot), who told reporters that he was going to play this weekend. Huggins said Bryant hasn't tested the foot yet with the special inserts that he has been fitted for in his shoe. "I don't have any idea because we haven't practiced yet and won't [Monday]," Huggins said. "We won't know until we see what he can do tomorrow and Wednesday and see how it responds."


Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.


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