ACC Basketball: Duke 128, Pfeiffer 70
By David Shaw
DURHAM ó Playing basketball at Cameron Indoor Stadium is like getting married or becoming a father for the first time.
It changes your life. Just ask Pfeiffer men’s coach Dave Davis.
“This place is a basketball museum, a cathedral,” Davis said on Saturday, moments after the Division II Falcons were slammed 128-70 by nationally ranked Duke in an exhibition game. “I told Coach K I always wanted to see a game in Cameron. I never have, but I never want to coach in one again.”
Davis, truth be told, has been here before. In the summer of 1985 he was coaching at South Stanly High School ó a newlywed, fresh off his New England honeymoon ó when he was enlisted to work as a counselor at Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Basketball Camp.
“I’m sure Coach K doesn’t remember it,” he said. “But I was here. It was a great teaching camp, but it was really a mini coaching clinic as well. The fun part was playing in the counselor games. Coach K was still playing then and I actually got to guard him. It was a terrific time.”
So was Davis’ return to Cameron. He brought a Pfeiffer team that relished every moment and played the game like the heavyweight title was on the line.
“Whether it’s an exhibition or a regular-season game, we’re playing for a W,” senior forward Athalie Rivera said. “Everything counts. Every second matters once that ball goes up in the air.”
Never mind that Pfeiffer nervously fell behind 14-0 before the first media timeout or that Duke placed eight scorers in double figures and finished with a 65-24 rebounding edge.
“Just being here was the experience of a lifetime,” junior Chris Woods said after topping all scorers with 22 points. “Think about all the great players who have been on this court. These guys on Duke are future pros, but at halftime I had to remind the team that they put their jerseys on the same way we do. They don’t do 360s when they get dressed.”
Duke rolled to a 61-20 halftime lead before the Falcons settled down and played what Davis called “at Pfeiffer speed and a Pfeiffer level” in the second half. They pushed the paces in the final 20 minutes, shot 48 percent from the floor and scored 50 points.
“I was happy with the way we bounced back in the second half,” said PU junior Jeff Pettiway. “We got rid of those jitters and loosened up, then focused on the things we needed to do.”
Kierre Jordan shot 8-for-15 from the field and scored 19 points for the Falcons. Pettiway came off the bench and contributed 10. Most promising was the play of Woods, who hit 11 of 20 field goal attempts and showed no fear penetrating against a Duke lineup that included 7-footer Brian Zoubek, 6-10 forwards Miles and Mason Plumlee and 6-10 freshman Ryan Kelly.
“If I can finish a play against a guy who is seven feet,” Woods said, “that’ll give my teammates confidence. They’ll know I can do it against anybody 6-5.”
Davis said all of Duke’s personnel treated the Falcons like gold.
He welcomed the challenge and is pleased to have survived it.
“We’re gonna have to beat really good teams in Division II ó maybe not this good ó to go where we want to go,” he said. “The goal at Pfeiffer every year is to win a national championship. Hopefully, this whole experience will help us get better. Small college basketball players and coaches don’t get to do this, so we’ll savor it.”
NOTES: Duke shot 60 percent from the field and made eight 3-pointers. The Devils play another exhibition before launching their nonconference schedule Nov. 13 at home against UNC Greensboro. … Pfeiffer, 16-12 a year ago, will host the inaugural Highway 52 Shootout on Nov. 16-17, a tourney that will include Catawba and Livingstone.
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