Jan 26, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has often downplayed the men's basketball rankings.
Krzyzewski has even referenced his Polish heritage by saying he’s “the only Pole that matters.”
The Associated Press poll? So what?
But this season has been different. Krzyzewski has criticized the media for not recognizing his team’s rise to No. 2 in the rankings, especially given the attention that has flowed to North Carolina.
And on Monday, the Blue Devils ascended to No. 1 in both The Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today polls.
Asked why that recognition has been made more of this year, Krzyzewski said, “It’s the first time that those kids have been ranked No. 1.”
Duke rose as high as No. 2 last year before a late-season slide. The Devils reached as high as No. 5 in 2007 and were actually No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for 14 weeks in the 2005-06 season.
Current senior Greg Paulus was a freshman on that team, but Krzyzewski said a freshman doesn’t “realize your legacy” in collegiate athletics.
“Those things mean a lot. They mean even more as kids get older,” Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski said this Duke team has veteran players who often weren’t surrounded by veterans in past years. So Krzyzewski wants his club to relish its achievements along the way.
“Any high level of success, even though it’s not permanent with the No. 1 ranking, is a good benchmark,” he said.
"We've been playing pretty well," said Duke sophomore Kyle Singler. "You've got to give the team credit."
In the AP poll, the Blue Devils (18-1) moved up one spot to No. 1, their first appearance there since the final poll of 2005-06.
"It says we're playing pretty good," said Duke sophomore Nolan Smith. "The team feels like it means a lot, but it means a lot more to be number one come April."
Duke received 62 first-place votes and 1,789 points from the 72-member national media panel to easily outdistance Connecticut (18-1), which was No. 1 on six ballots and had 1,694 points, 47 more than Pittsburgh (18-1), which had three first-place votes.
The Demon Deacons lost to Virginia Tech Wednesday and dropped to No. 6.