Posted 2 AM Thursday
✔✔✔ And so our men's basketball team is in China.
We now have confirmation that the trek over was even worse than FC had predicted: the full day's delay, the flight plus a long bus ride to the hotel meant the team arrived at 2 AM Kunshan time, Wednesday morning.
Coach K, dragging his baggage thru the airport -- seen in an official picture on go.Duke.com -- seemed particularly weary.
After some rest, later on on Wednesday, the team and hangers-on went to the site of the Duke Kunshan University. Alas, no yellow hard hats for the pictures like Dick Brodhead and entouraged donned for show when he was on his summer spree in Europe, Asia and Africa. Basketball staffer Jeff Capel wins this week's Brodhead Loyalty Award, for his twitter, "Pretty amazing vision by the leaders at Duke."
The initial Chronicle account of the first game left out the name of the opponent, and the headline said incorrectly it was the Chinese Olympic team. Not that it mattered. As FC has been writing, the Olympic team is in London for a tournament; we got a U23 (under 23, for the uninitiated) team that has been practicing for less than a month. It seems silly to keep score, but they did: 77 to 64 Duke.
And if you study the Chronicle's pictures from Kunshan, you will see plenty of empty seats in the 6,000 seat arena -- meaning the Duke brand has room to grow among the locals.
✔ FC has received several e-mails about how this trip is possible -- given the NCAA's rules on when practice can start. Well, another set of rules allows summer travel once every four years.
This was a window of opportunity for Duke-- with Coach K having the summer off from responsibilities with the US national team.
Recall please, that Coach K took JJ Redick and Shelden Williams abroad when they were freshmen in 2002 -- and many believe they benefited not only from the trip but the 10 practices allowed beforehand. So with five incoming freshmen this year, voila, off we flew.
Second game, 9 AM Durham time, Thursday, on ESPNU and ESPN3.