Local News

Duke Welcomes Home National Champions

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

DURHAM — The top-ranked Blue Devils returned to a raucous Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday afternoon with their new NCAA basketball championship trophy.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski, with his grandson in tow, spoke to the crowd about Duke's run to the title. He talked how some people wrote them off after the Feb. 27 game when center Carlos Boozer broke his foot.

"There were a lot of people who were happy, they thought that was it. It wasn't," he says. "It was the beginning of us becoming a great basketball team."

The top-ranked Blue Devils won their third national championship - and second in the Metrodome - with an 82-72 victory over Arizona on Monday night. The players were all smiles when they acknowledged their fans.

"You guys are a part of this and finally, to bring it back home, is a dream come true," says senior Nate James.

"Thank you for your support. You're the greatest fans in sports, and all of it is possible because of the love and respect, we have for each other," says senior Shane Battier.

The Celebration:Students on Duke's campus, including those who watched the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, spilled out to enjoy the team's national championship victory with a giant bonfire at the Quad.

Students ran out of the stadium in a group with their arms raised, pumping their fists and chanting "We're No. 1!"

The celebration lasted long into the night. Durham and campus police say there was little trouble as a result of the celebrations, however five people were arrested.

The championship team arrived at RDU International at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday. A welcome home pep rally was held for the champs at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Players:Sophomores Mike Dunleavy, who scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half, and Carlos Boozer picked up the slack when All-Americans Jason Williams and Shane Battier had off nights. Battier ended his college career by adding 18 points to Duke's win.

The win gave head coach Mike Krzyzewski his third NCAA title, and ranks him among an impressive list of coaches. Coach K is tied with Bob Knight. The win is one less than Kentucky's Adolph Rupp and and seven less than UCLA's John Wooden -- who has ten NCAA titles to his name. The Shirts:Employees at sportswear manufacturer M.J. Soffee Company were working to get out the new T-shirts as quickly as possible. The 30,000 championship T-shirts were delivered to Duke early Tuesday morning and fans were eager to gather souvenirs of the championship win.

Shoppers at the Duke University book store had 28 different T-Shirt designs to choose from. In anticipation of a championship win, the book store started working on the designs two months ago.

Duke expects to sell as many as 100,000 T-shirts to fans all over the world.

That revenue goes into Duke's general fund to pay for scholarships and other programs. From wire and staff reports