WEB UPDATE: Duke preview: Blue Devils wary of Colonials

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Posted Friday, March 17, 6:10 p.m. GREENSBORO, N.C. — GW Coach Karl Hobbs looked relaxed Friday afternoon. The night before, the fifth-year coach picked up his first tournament victory in an overtime battle with the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. The accomplishment for Hobbs and the program cannot be measured just yet.

He is 22 years behind the guy that will be coaching a few feet down the sidelines from him Saturday.

Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in NCAA Tournament history and will be looking for his 68th career NCAA win and eighth Sweet 16 appearance against eighth-seeded George Washington Saturday at 1:10 p.m. The Hall of Fame coach said GW will be as tough of a matchup as any this season.

“The very first thing is they know how to win,” Krzyzewski said of GW at a news conference Friday. “They have been the best record in Division I basketball. They believe they’re going to win when they go out on the court. Any team that you play against that’s good, and believes it’s going to win, is going to be a tough opponent.”

Krzyzewski predicted that Saturday afternoon’s contest will mirror Duke’s 1989 second-round game with West Virginia, also at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Blue Devils got 20 from Danny Ferry in the 70-63 Duke win. Spurred by Ferry and Christian Laettner, the squad overcame a one-point deficit with 8:30 left in the contest.

This year, the top-seeded overall Blue Devils beat 16th-seeded Southern 70-54 Thursday night in a game that was as close as four points at times. Duke got 58 of 70 points from its two All-American seniors, guard J.J. Redick and forward Sheldon Williams.

Redick said that against GW, offensive production will have to come from more than just the duo to get more tournament victories.

“For us, moving forward and playing a team like GW, we’re going to need more guys to step up and play at a high level in addition to us playing at that high level,” Redick said Friday. “GW has been a team ranked in the top 10 for most of the year, so this is a huge game.”

Krzyzewski echoed the sentiment, saying GW’s play is unique and strong.

“They have depth and experience, and their unique style of play fits them so well because they have length and width,” Krzyzewski said. “They play well side to side because of their athletic ability and their length. They have kids with long arms and quick feet, and that lends itself to a good press. They’re a very good basketball team.”

The Colonials will try to use its length and athleticism to stifle the fundamentally sound Blue Devils. Senior Omar Williams, a 6-foot-9 forward, will have the initial assignment of guarding Redick, the country’s best three-point shooter.

GW’s defense, which has keyed in offensive production all year, is a point of concern for Duke.

“They run a couple different types of presses, run a little man, a little zone,” Redick said. “So being alert as to what they are in is going to be big and taking care of the ball. We know they are going to try to put pressure on us and get us to turn the ball over, so they can get out into transition where they excel. Our assist-to-turnover ratio tomorrow can be a big thing.”

For one of the first times all season, the Colonials will be the hunter rather than the hunted.

“I’m sure there aren’t many people out there that are picking us to win,” senior Omar Williams said. “We’ve been in this situation before in the past couple of years. We are coming into it with that underdog mentality, but at the same time, we expect to win this game like we do any other one.”

NOTES – GW’s last matchup with Duke was a 103-73 loss on Dec. 6, 1994, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. The all-time series with the Blue Devils is 13-13. Duke is 9-0 in Greensboro Coliseum. GW and Duke had several teams in common including Temple, N.C. State, Boston University and Maryland.

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