Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 10/15/12
FORT BRAGG, NC -- Duke's basketball team is used to receiving standing ovations and adulation, and Monday afternoon at Funk Gymnasium at Fort Bragg the Blue Devils were certainly adored. But they flipped the tables this time, too. It was Duke's basketball team offering a standing ovation to a throng of nearly 1,000 troops from one of the nation's largest U.S. Army posts as they entered the gym to watch the Devils practice in a special visit to the military base. As thrilled as the troops were, and many brought Duke gear for the players to sign in addition to what was handed out to each male and female in uniform, the athletes were equally excited and in some cases in awe. "It has been a humbling experience," said Duke sophomore guard Quinn Cook. "I thought we worked out hard at Duke, but doing PT (physical training), these guys do so much more than we do. It was really impressive. And to work out with them was an honor. "If it wasn't for the men and women in uniform, not just these guys, but throughout our history, Duke basketball wouldn't be here like it is." Duke is on fall break this week, affording the team an opportunity to make the 90-mile trip. The Devils arrived Sunday evening and spent a few hours watching film before going to bed in the barracks. Comfort was an issue to some of the longer players. Senior Mason Plumlee, who stands 6-foot-11, couldn't sleep. Cook awoke at around 2 a.m. and saw that Plumlee was still awake. A few more players got up, and by 2:30 many of the Devils were awake. Since their wakeup call was for 5:45 to participate in PT, they decided to stay awake. "It's been a bit rough, I'm real tired," Plumlee said after the two-hour. "I can't wait to crash tonight." Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski graduated from West Point and served four years in the Army reaching the rank of captain. He wanted to expose his team to what the troops experience physically and mentally. Breakfast followed PT, which included a two-mile run, and then the team split in half for a leadership reaction course. Plumlee said that was "extremely challenging" but "extremely valuable" as well. Duke then practiced at Funk Gymnasium from 12:30 until 2:30 running various drills, but mostly working on defense. The troops filed shy of the mid-point of practice. As soon as the players noticed them entering they stopped, stood and clapped for more than a minute. The last half-hour of practice included was toned down and included shooting drills in which troops from the crowd were picked at random to join in. A few sank 3-pointers from the baseline and one cadet drilled a mid-range jumper inside the left elbow to lift his team to a victory. Blue Devils high-fived him as the other half of the split quad did push-ups. "It was really special, you don't get stuff like this very often," said Sgt. Jonathan McKeown, 28, of Charleston, SC. "I really appreciate them coming out and doing this for us." McKeown was the first troop selected to participate in free throw shooting. As he stepped to the line the troops got rowdy in the stands doing their best to mimic the Duke students at Cameron Indoor Stadium, better known as "Cameron Crazies." It's an experience he will never forget. "Nervous, nervous," he said about shooting the ball. "The (Blue Devil) behind me was making fun of my head. But it was awesome, a great story I can tell. I appreciate it very much." Krzyzewski is widely regarded as one of the best teachers in sports. His teams have long been known for their unselfishness, and one reason the Hall of Fame coach wanted to expose his team to what he considers the elite. "Really, the military is the best team we have in our society," said Krzyzewski, who is in his 33rd season at Duke and is the all-time leader in victories with 927. "It's the most respected part of our society, I believe. Any time we can have any interaction with them, it's a plus for us." The feeling was clearly mutual. "It was real cool being able to interact with the players, and Coach K, he's one of the greatest coaches ever in sports," said PFC Jamie Johnson, 20, a native of Georgia. Johnson, who is more of a football fan and says he'll now pull for the Blue Devils, was also surprised to learn Krzyzewski served as well. . "The fact that he was prior military, I never knew that he was a West Point graduate," he said. "Even though I'm enlisted, it still stuck with me. It's impressive." Senior guard Seth Curry sat out the team drills nursing a minor injury and redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee was on crutches. Duke announced prior to the practice Plumlee broke a bone in his foot and is out 6-8 weeks. But that didn't dampen Duke's spirit. The Devils had tremendous energy, which they attribute to the men and women in uniform. "It was a great 24 hours to come here and see the way they live and what they go through, it was really a great experience to see this," junior guard Tyler Thornton said. "Then to come out here and practice with them here, they gave us so much energy. It was a tough morning, but when they came through the room everybody got a little extra boost of energy and it was fun."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Reggie Bush reportedly closing in on contract with Bills

Report: Eric Berry planning to no-show training camp

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eagles could have interest in Gordon if Browns trade him

Report: Fitzpatrick, Jets not likely to have deal before camp

Report: Anquan Boldin signs one-year deal with Detroit Lions

Formula One CEO's mother-in-law kidnapped in Brazil

Mike McCarthy ends weight talk, declares Eddie Lacy ‘ready’

Report: Redskins have discussed possibly signing Hardy

Padres reportedly making progress on Cashner trade

NFL Network to stream on PlayStation Vue

Report: Eagles’ Nigel Bradham charged for assaulting cabana boy

Rudy Gay underwent minor Achilles procedure this summer

Bashaud Breeland brought puppies to Washington camp

Tyler Johnson 'threw up a couple of times' over $50M deal

Should the Yankees hold a fire sale?

Five young soccer players to keep an eye on at Rio Olympics

Conor McGregor's coach predicts result of Nate Diaz rematch

Jordy Nelson starts camp on PUP list, no reason for panic?

Mark Dantonio denies MSU negatively recruits against PSU

Brett Favre selects wife Deanna as his Hall of Fame presenter

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker