Consider Duke's Cook forewarned about Creighton's Wragge
Creighton’s Ethan Wragge earned a less-than-stellar reputation with North Carolina basketball fans last season.
It was Wragge whose hard foul on UNC point guard Kendall Marshall during their NCAA Tournament game in Greensboro left Marshall with a broken wrist that ended his season.
Duke point guard Quinn Cook knew of the incident but the details were a bit fuzzy.
“That was them?” Cook said Saturday, when asked about the Bluejays’ reputation for physical play.
Cook said he planned to text Marshall, who is now a rookie with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, to get more information about Creighton. UNC won that game 87-73 but, without Marshall, lost to Kansas one game short of the Final Four a week later.
As for Wragge, Creighton’s top player off the bench, Cook considers himself forewarned.
“I’m going to look out for him,” Cook said. “I’m staying away from him.”
For his part, Wragge doesn’t believe he did anything dirty on the play with Marshall. He has never spoken with Marshall, but Creighton coach Greg McDermott discussed the play with UNC coach Roy Williams.
Last year, Williams said he thought the foul, as Marshall was in the air for a second-half layup, was hard but not flagrant.
“I thought I was making a basketball play,” Wragge said Saturday. “We were behind and he had an open layup and I was not going to give him a layup at that time and let them extend their lead. It was tough how he fell on his wrist.”
Wragge has done his best to ignore the social media messages he received from angry Tar Heel fans, who felt Marshall’s injury cost them a shot at a national championship.
“That’s part of basketball,” Wragge said. “People get hurt and you can’t really let what other people say…and with the world we live in now with Twitter. You can’t really focus on that. I’m not really worried about it.”
ON THE OTHER HAND
If things had gone according to Duke’s plan, Greg Echenique would have been manning the middle of the Blue Devils attack for the last four seasons.
Instead, the hulking 6-foot-9, 260-pound center will face Duke in today’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional game.
Echenique was rated the No. 9 player in his senior class when he played for Dan Hurley, former Duke guard Bobby Hurley’s brother, at St. Benedict’s High School in New Jersey.
The Blue Devils recruited him and offered a scholarship. But Echenique decided to stay in New Jersey and begin his career at Rutgers.
After an injury-plagued freshman season, Echenique transferred to Creighton where he’s been a force for the Bluejays over the last three seasons.
Now that he’s facing the Blue Devils, Echenique has no regrets.
“I obviously was very honored they offered that to me,” Echenique said. “They are great people there. I can’t say anything bad about that. It’s life. You make decisions. I decided to go a different route. It’s always great to play people you know.”
Tonight, Echenique will match up with Mason Plumlee, the center who signed with Duke for the 2009-10 freshman class. Plumlee averages 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds this season.
The two centers figure to have a physical battle.
“I’m also blessed that I’m built for that,” said Echenique, who has stitches above his eye and others on the side of his head from being elbowed twice in the last week. “I weigh a little more than some. That will help me out.”
Echenique said he knows Plumlee will get shots. He just doesn’t want him to get any “easy buckets.”
Plumlee expects nothing less than a tough game.
“To be at this point in the season you have to be a physical team,” Plumlee said. “Nobody from this point on is going to be a soft team.”
LATE NIGHT DEVILS
Tonight’s game, which is scheduled to tip off at approximately 9:40 p.m., will be the ninth Duke has played this season that has begun at 9 p.m. or later.
The Blue Devils said they actually like the starting time because they can relax at the hotel all day before playing.
“I know the team likes the 9 o’clock games,” Cook said.