Blue Devils show support for Eagles
Birds of a feather — and Blue Devils — flock together.
Several players from No. 5 Duke will go to work tonight against Wake Forest after having spent time this week watching Durham’s other Division I team handle its business.
Duke’s Tyler Thornton, Quinn Cook and Josh Hairston took in N.C. Central’s 69-61 win over Morgan State on Monday.
NCCU’s McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium wasn’t quite Cameron Indoor Stadium in terms of decibel level, but the place was rocking a bit.
“The fans are amazing,” Cook said about NCCU’s crowd. “The student section, they’re very into the game. The NCCU bench is always into the game. So it’s always a good atmosphere.”
Cook also was in McDougald-McLendon this past week when NCCU, undefeated in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, beat Howard.
“It’s a good thing,” Cook said. “I’m friends with a lot of guys on Central — Emanuel (Chapman), Ray (Willis).”
Chapman is NCCU’s point guard, and Willis holds down the other guard spot.
Players from NCCU (13-7, 6-0 MEAC) and Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC) saw plenty of each other during the S.J.G. Greater N.C. Pro-Am, the summer basketball league at NCCU.
“We’ve got a relationship with those guys from the Pro-Am,” Willis said after leading NCCU with 19 points against Morgan State. “We just thank them for coming out. We can go over there and show them some support, so it’s a good deal.”
“That stems from even when I played,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.
Moton is one of the great scorers to have emerged from the Eagles basketball program, ranking third in the school’s history with the 1,714 points that he accumulated from 1992-96.
During his time as an NCCU student, Moton said he would go over to Duke’s campus to see what Grant Hill and Jeff Capel were up to in the ACC.
“Me and Grant were pretty close, and me and Jeff Capel were pretty close,” Moton said. “They always came to see me. I always went to see them.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has encouraged the relationship between his players and those from NCCU, Moton said.
“That’s one of the things me and Coach K always talked about,” Moton said. “We want those guys playing against each other in the summer. We want those guys being around each other.”
And there are other reasons for visiting NCCU, Moton said.
“I know they love Duke, but North Carolina Central has a beautiful social life that these guys — they probably walked over to get to, ” Moton said.
Monday’s game gave Cook an opportunity to see one of his teammates from high school, Morgan State’s Justin Black, who put up 20 points against NCCU.
Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman coached both Cook and Thornton when they were elementary-age kids playing basketball in the Maryland area.
Bozeman used to be the head coach at California-Berkeley.
Adding to the Duke vibe at NCCU on Monday was the presence of former Blue Devils star Gene Banks, who played in the NBA and now is a scout in the league.
“He’s a legend, especially when you’re talking about this game as it applies to this city,” Moton said. “Just to have him with the Washington Wizards and come back and see what’s going on and just evaluate our players, it’s wonderful.”