Monday, April 15, 2024

The 30 Most Influential NCAA MBB Groups of SLAM’s 30 Years: ‘99 Duke

To have a good time SLAM’s thirtieth anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential males’s faculty groups from our previous 30 years. Stats, information and chips aren’t the principle issue right here, it’s all about their contribution to the sport’s cultural cloth.

For the following 30 days—Monday via Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full record right here. We’ve additionally acquired an unique retro collegiate assortment, out now, that pays homage to every squad’s threads. Store right here.

Former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski as soon as stated, “Two are higher than one if two act as one.” And he’s proper, particularly when speaking in regards to the ‘99 Blue Devils’ stars Elton Model and Trajan Langdon. 

Led by the scale and athleticism of Model and the finesse and aptitude of Langdon, Duke’s squad established itself as some of the unstoppable forces in faculty basketball historical past, a real embodiment of the Blue Devils’ perennial preeminence. They have been rock stars of the school basketball scene. Everybody needed to be like them, however nobody actually was. Model bulldozed his manner via defenses, incomes accolades and admiration along with his sheer dominance on the courtroom. He averaged 17.7 factors and 9.8 rebounds per sport, incomes him the Naismith Nationwide Participant of the 12 months award as a sophomore. 

Whereas the brawn of Model was contained in the paint, the artistry of Langdon was exterior the arc. The senior guard, nicknamed the “Alaskan Murderer,” was Duke’s deadly scoring weapon. Whereas his measurement and athleticism helped him discover success attacking the paint, a few of his finest moments got here from long-range. At any instantaneous, Langdon would rise over defenders with the flick of his wrist, signaling an automated three factors.

The three-time All-ACC guard logged 17.3 factors and knocked down the three ball at an environment friendly 44.1 p.c clip. His finest video games all the time got here when it mattered most, whether or not it’d be his 24 factors towards Missouri State or his 25-point explosion within the nationwide championship sport. 

For each scorer—or, on this case, for each two scorers—there have to be a ground basic who can distribute the ball for issues to work. Fortunately for Duke, and to everybody else’s misfortune, the Blue Devils had William Avery working the present. 

Avery was a Swiss Military knife sort of participant. He persistently splashed soar photographs from anywhere on the ground, threw dimes left and proper and even sneaked up on opponents for run-ending steals. In the meantime, sophomore Shane Battier stifled opponents on the wing as among the best defenders within the ACC, whereas his spot-up taking pictures would deflate opposing arenas with quickness. 

Protection was their spine, fundamentals have been their gospel and team-play was their anthem. Beneath Coach Ok, the distinct personalities of the gamers would gel right into a singular unit destined to destroy groups on the hardwood. Combining the collective brilliance of the nation’s high faculty gamers and a world-class teaching workers—to not point out the unwavering help from the craziest followers in faculty basketball—the Blue Devils tore via their marketing campaign with a jaw-dropping 37-2 file. 

Duke’s solely common season losses got here towards Cincinnati in November after they fell simply two factors shy towards the Bearcats. However the Blue Devils bounced again tremendously, reeling off 32 straight wins as much as their matchup towards Connecticut within the NCAA event last. Although the loss nonetheless stings at this time for the Cameron Crazies, the sheer greatness of that ‘99 crew will perpetually be etched into their reminiscence.

Images by way of Getty Pictures.

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