March Madness Notebook: Duke talks Banchero, Charleston coach hangs on rims

Taking over the Amyway Center for a few days during the NCAA tournament, it only seemed fitting for Duke men’s basketball coach Jon Scheyer to give former Blue Devils and Magic players Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. a call.

The only problem? They didn’t pick up.

“They didn’t answer yet, so they’re either sleeping or ignoring my call,” Scheyer said with a laugh Wednesday. “I hope it’s not ignoring my call.”

Although Banchero and Carter, who are currently on a western trip with the Magic, didn’t immediately pick up the call, Scheyer isn’t holding it against them.

“I was able to come down here in the fall to see them and what they’ve done,” he said. “Those are two of my all-time favorite guys. They’re as talented as anybody to have come through here but also as coachable as can be and [are] great guys off the court.

“I’m a Magic fan because of them, I can tell you that much.”

The connection isn’t lost between Duke and its NBA players.

“He’s been coming back, showing support, texting me on the side and always showing love to Duke,” junior guard Jeremy Roach said about Banchero. “That’s the brotherhood. They still want us to win.”

Carter and Banchero know a thing or two about helping Duke advance in the Big Dance.

In 2018, Carter recorded a double-double in the team’s Sweet 16 win over Syracuse before the Blue Devils lost in the Elite Eight to Kansas.

Banchero took the team even further. Last year, Duke reached the Final Four and Banchero was named the NCAA West Region’s Most Outstanding Player while earning a spot on the NCAA All-Tournament Team.

Scheyer is hoping to replicate that success and more this time around.

“Hopefully, we have some good vibes and good memories in their city while we’re here,” he said.

Meet College of Charleston’s rim-climbing coach

When asked to give his best Pat Kelsey story, College of Charleston veteran guard Jaylon Scott shared an interesting detail about his head coach.

“My favorite thing that he does is when he climbs on the rim and swings on it like a madman,” Scott said.

Age is just a number for the 47-year-old coach, according to his players.

“He’s dumb swole,” Charleston guard Dalton Bolon said in reference to his coach’s muscles. “He’s climbing on the rim and hanging on that thing. He’s got the most energy I’ve ever seen every day.”

The Charleston coach, who has the Cougars back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2018, confirmed the story as told by his players.

Kelsey said he’d be willing to do anything for his players if they ask.

“If they want me to go hang on the rim, I’ll hang on it,” he said. “People think I go up with my vertical leap. I actually pull myself up on the net and grab that bad boy.

“If you can excuse me for that little bit of a crutch that I use, but heck, I’ll go up and do it, why not?”

San Diego State flight delayed due to POTUS

Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher found himself eating chicken wings in the early hours of Wednesday morning after San Diego State arrived later than expected in Orlando.

That’s partly because of President Joe Biden, who was leaving San Diego after meeting with the British and Australian prime ministers earlier in the week.

“Our plane was a little late getting in to pick us up because of restricted airspace around Air Force One,” Dutcher said. “Charter [flights], as much as they sound like they’re going to get you here early, they usually get you here when they get you here.”

The team left California around 5 p.m. local time and arrived in Florida just past midnight.

Dutcher, who has the Aztecs in the Big Dance for the third straight season, wasn’t too upset.

“As I said, I wasn’t joking, I was eating chicken wings at 2 a.m. and they were good,” he said. “They tasted really good, we were happy to have them, and we’re happy to be here.”

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