Duke, despite wading through a swamp of inconsitency, ins somehow managed to reach today's East regional final against Villanova (2:15 p.m., WRC-TV-4).
"We haven't been playing as quick since the ACC tournament," said Duke Coach Bill Foster. "We haven't had the same defensive intensity. We haven't been running that well, haven't been getting the ball out on the outlet pass. We play in spurts.
"At times, we're a little too casual and that's something we have to remedy."
Before Friday's 84-80 comeback victory over Pennsylvania, Foster was asked if the emotion-charged ACC tour-nament might have taken something out of his team.
"I think that's a legitimatic question," said Foster. "It's such a big thing for us. Just the elation of the fans stays with you for a week."
Yesterday, Foster said, "I can't blame our play on the ACC tournament. We can play better, the way we have in spurts. Idon't know if that might be an indication of our youth.
"I'm not trying to make excuses, but I think one thing about us that has been overlooked is that we're a pretty darn young team.
"We start two freshmen (Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard) and two sophomores (John Harrell and Mike Gminski), and Gminski is only 18.
"We probably are the youngest team by far in the final eight, although I can't back that up because I have enough to worry about without scouting the other seven teams to see who doesn't shave."
Duke's veteran and leading scorer, Jim Spanarkel, scored what Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino described as "a quiet 21 points" against Penn Friday night. The 6-foot-5 junior guard is suffering from a painfully swollen right ankle, but he has been Duke's most consistent player along the rocky road to the East final.
It is the 6-foot-11 pivotman, Gminski, who has done much of the stumbling between flashes of brilliance.
Teammate Banks in a quick move to compliment Gminski after Friday night's game, inadvertently put his finger on the problem when he said, "Mike can be the best center in the country. It's all up to Mike.
Gminski has an oversupply of talent, brains and shyness. He finished high school early to appear on the college scence at 17.
Gminski turned the Penn game around in a minute with three straight blocked shots, and while the quick display delighted Foster, he would like to have seen more of it.
"I'd like to see him play more aggressively for longer periods of time," said Foster. "He's still learning the game."
Duke beat Rhode Island, 63-62, in the first round in Charlotte on Gminski's final two free throws. Friday night, Gminski's flurry erased a six-point deficit, and with Spanarkel, Harell and Banks all nursing injuries, Foster would prefer that his team, especially Gminski, not be backed into a corner again. It may be too much.
"We were fortunate to come back and win," said Foster, "and we don't want to try and do that twice in three days."
Villanova starts no one over 6-6, relying on quickness and its bench. It will be up to Gminski defensively and offensively to take advantage of the mismatch and offset the Wildcats' speed.
After losing to Duke, Penn Coach Bob Weinhauer picked Villanova to win today, "by about six, because they have better inside depth than we do."
"The big thing we have to cope with," said Villanova's Massimino, "is that they're a lot bigger than we are. We'll have to make some adjustments to try to contain Gminski as much as possible. We don't want him touching the ball as much as he is used to."
Mackin High graduate Keith Herron, Villanova's 6-foot-6 senior forward, is the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer. He has been bothered by a knee problem, but Massimino said Herron is "about 90 percent (efficiency) or better."