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Duke baseball following football's lead

Posted May 13

When head baseball coach Chris Pollard began the daunting task of turning Duke's program around, he didn't have to look far to find inspiration.

"I've told Coach Cutcliffe he's laid a blueprint down for us that we can follow," said Pollard. "Every opportunity I can, I pick his brain."

Duke's newfound success in football has been a measuring stick for Pollard's baseball program. And just like the gridiron guys, Duke's diamond Devils are reaching new heights as well – their best season in 20 years.

"Coach Pollard always brought up a lot of Duke football, and Coach Cutcliffe's sayings that he's been telling his team lately," said pitcher Robert Huber.

"Yeah, I think we all took a little bit of inspiration from the football team, seeing them crack the top 25 this year and have a lot of success," said pitcher Drew Van Orden.

The parallels are hard to miss. Before their recent run, Duke's last winning season in football was in 1994, and their last bowl win came back in 1961. That's eerily similar to the baseball team, whose last winning season in-conference was also in '94 and their last NCAA Tournament bid also in 1961.

"A lot of times, I would come in to our fall practices, and I would say 'Hey, did you see that football game? You know, did you see what happened there?'," said Pollard.

"The culture of Duke is really getting exciting right now around campus for teams that generally struggle. They're turning it around," said Huber.

For both teams, success was a long time coming and now Duke's baseball program is following the football team's lead.

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  • Tar Heels Blue May 14, 9:18 a.m.

    Duke has done quite well with their three major men's sports teams: football, basketball, and baseball; this season. The hard part is to do it on a consistent basis. I hope they can. UNC and State have hit a bit of an uphill climb. State finishes the baseball season against VT and could make it a sweep. Duke and Carolina face a daunting task with Florida State and Miami respectively. Would love to see all three teams (State, UNC, and Duke) sweep their teams, but the odds of that happening are out of the ballpark. I would love to see numerous NC teams make the baseball playoffs....we'll see.

  • dave437 May 14, 10:17 a.m.

    Does this mean the Duke baseball team will cough up late leads in postseason play?

  • 903 Free Paul Frampton 2 May 14, 12:50 p.m.

    Does this mean the Duke baseball team will cough up late leads in postseason play?

    — Posted by dave437

    As in football, it means they will have had a better season than UNC...

  • Tar Heels Blue May 14, 1:21 p.m.

    903 THANKS JABARI...I'm not sure on what you based your comment; however, Duke is a half game ahead of UNC in the ACC standings and tied in the overall standings. Both teams will most likely make it to the NCAA baseball tournament and who knows what will happen there. Starting tomorrow both Duke and UNC have their hands full with two top teams nationally in the form of Florida State and Miami respectively. Anything can happen but at this point Duke and UNC sit about even in their season's accomplishments. I believe dave437 was questioning whether Duke might get a lead on a team in the playoffs and then lose focus as the football team appeared to do against A&M. Personally, I was hoping Duke would win the Bowl game as I am not an A&M fan and got rather tired of hearing about "Johnny Football". Anyway, there is a lot of baseball left what with the remaining 3 regular season games, the ACC tourney, and then NCAA tourney. Why not kick back and enjoy it and pull for the ACC!

  • 903 Free Paul Frampton 2 May 14, 2:41 p.m.

    903 THANKS JABARI...I'm not sure on what you based your comment; however, Duke is a half game... View More

    — Posted by Tar Heels Blue

    I based my comment on Duke sweeping UNC... like they did in football...

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/30/3746073/duke-baseball-sweeps-unc.html

    I thought smitty was the only long-winded blowhard UNC troll, guess not...

  • Tar Heels Blue May 14, 6:03 p.m.

    903 Thanks Jabari...I applaud the fact that Duke swept UNC in baseball, a great feat. That feat by itself does not guarantee that Duke will "have a better season than UNC". One series of games does not a season make, unless that is all you care about. Perhaps you did not pay attention to my positive comments about the Triangle teams; or maybe you are so unifocal on your comments you care less about what others have to say. I also noticed you lack or respect for others on this thread..."I thought smitty was the only long-winded blowhard UNC troll...." You have revealed your character by such comments. Nontheless, you are entitled to your opinions. While I am not a die hard Duke fan, I work for Duke and have had the pleasure of supporting our troops overseas with an endorsement from Coach K. Say what you will.

  • TarheelDynasty May 18, 10:45 a.m.

    903 Thanks Jabari...I applaud the fact that Duke swept UNC in baseball, a great feat. That ... View More

    — Posted by Tar Heels Blue

    #OUCH.

    Truth slaps hard.

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