Duke's Wojo, Parker, Hood in spotlight at annual banquet
After the Duke’s four seniors gave their speeches at the Blue Devils basketball banquet, Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced that one more speaker was on the schedule due to another departure.
No, that didn’t mean Jabari Parker or Rodney Hood, Duke’s top two scorers who are finalizing their decisions to leave for the NBA, were taking the podium.
Instead, newly minted Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski took center stage at Cameron Indoor Stadium one more time.
Krzyzewski, in introducing his former player and assistant coach, choked back tears as he thought about their shared experiences over the last 20 years. Most poignantly, Krzyzewski talked about this season, when his older brother, Bill, died last December.
“There are certain people who are put on this planet for specific things,” Krzyzewski said. “Steve was put on this planet to make the people with him better. He made this program achieve things in these last 15 years that without him we wouldn’t have been able to do.”
Then Krzyzewski turned to look at Wojciechowski, who sat in the crowd.
“I’m going to miss you terribly,” Krzyzewski said through tears. “I lost my brother this year and I also lost a son. I’m glad one of them is going to keep going and going and make me proud and make everyone else proud.”
Wojciechowski, named Marquette’s coach on April 1, played at Duke from 1994-98 had coached under Krzyzewski with the Blue Devils since 1999. He called Krzyzewski a “mentor and a friend.”
“Coach, you did not lose a son,” Wojciechowski said before pausing. “We will always be connected. I will always be your friend and I will always have your back. And the same goes for Duke.”
Parker, projected to be a top pick if he chooses to enter the NBA Draft, did not reveal if he a decision had been made. He was not made available for interviews.
The 6-8 freshman, a first-team all-ACC player and a consensus first-team All-American, did find himself in the spotlight a few times. He was named the team’s most valuable player and also gained an award for having the best rebounding average (8.7 per game).
Parker led Duke in scoring, averaging 19.1 points, while making 47.3 percent of his shots.
Hood, a 6-8 sophomore, won two awards — the Pagliuca Family Coach’s Award, given to the player exemplifying commitment and values, and the Iron Dukes Award for leading the team in minutes played (32.9 per game).
Hood is projected to be picked in the middle of the first round if he chooses, as expected, to bypass his final two years of eligibility.
Both players have until April 27 to enter the NBA Draft.
The four seniors who gave speeches were guards Tyler Thornton and Andre Dawkins and forwards Josh Hairston and Todd Zafirovski.
Many times during the night, references were made directly to Duke’s 17-0 record in Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. The Blue Devils will carry a 33-game home winning streak into next season.
“I really enjoyed coaching our team,” Krzyzewski said. “I especially enjoyed coaching them here. We didn’t lose here.”
But Duke’s 78-71 stunning, season-ending loss to Mercer in the NCAA Tournament was also referenced, although not as directly.
“For me,” Krzyzewski said, “I’m going to enjoy a season and not let it get to me if we don’t win (a national championship). I’ll be disappointed. There’s a difference between being disappointed and disenchanted where a feeling that you take forward is not a great feeling. I’ve always refused to do that and I’ll refuse it now. Our game can be cruel. When you lose its abrupt and it was cruel at the end of the season.”
2013-14 Duke Men’s Basketball Award Winners
Swett-Baylin (Most Valuable Player) —– Jabari Parker
Dr. Deryl Hart (Top Scholar-Athlete) —– Amile Jefferson
Glenn E. “Ted” Mann (Player Contributing Most to Team Morale) —– Tyler Thornton
Pagliuca Family Coach’s Award (Player Exemplifying Commitment and Values) —– Rodney Hood
Iron Dukes Award (Most Minutes) —– Rodney Hood
Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award —– Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston, Rodney Hood
Best Field Goal Percentage Award —– Amile Jefferson
Best Free Throw Percentage Award —– Quinn Cook
Best Rebounding Average Award —– Jabari Parker
Most Assists Award —– Quinn Cook
Best Defensive Player Award —– Rodney Hood
True Blue Award (Most Charges) —– Tyler Thornton
Gopal Varadhan Senior Manager Award —– Scott Lamson & Jamie Stark
Harry Rainey Spirit Award (Outstanding Cheerleader) —– Debbie Xie
Charles Hogan Memorial Band Award —– Madeline Barrow