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Posted 09 Apr 2001   For week ended April 06, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 03Apr01

By Kent Larsen

Christensen Part of Duke's National Title Team

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA -- Junior Matt Christensen didn't play a lot, but like his father and cousin, he's part of Duke's team. But unlike those Duke players of the past, Christensen is on the team that won this year's NCAA championship.

A former Boston Globe All-Scholastic from Massachusetts' Belmont High School, Christensen chose to attend Duke over offers from Stanford, Boston College, Connectictu and, of course, BYU. "I felt like Duke offered me the best combination of academics and basketball that was available anywhere. I was just fortunate they were interested in me as well. So I was never really very serious about any of the local schools." However, he loves Boston, and would have stayed there if possible, "If I had to pick between Duke in Durham [N.C.] and Duke in Boston, I would have stayed in Boston," he said. "I would like to return when I get the chance, but Duke's in Durham and that meant I had to take my show on the road."

But Christensen did have one non-negotiable requirement in choosing a college. "I made it very clear that I wanted to go on a mission. I don't think I was seriously recruited by anybody or seriously interested in anybody who wouldn't have allowed me to do that, because I was very upfront about that and it was kind of a prerequisite for me."

He left for an LDS mission to Germany after his freshman year. "I was in Frankfurt and I was lucky to be near some Army bases where we'd sneak on and play some games," he said. "I tried to push myself by playing on the perimeter and guarding quicker guys, because I wasn't going to find anybody who was my size. I was nervous I was going to pick up sloppy habits by doing that, but it was good and I was really lucky to do that because there's no question that going on a mission was a real blessing in my life. I don't feel like it at all held back my career, basketballwise. It's absolutely something I would do again in a heartbeat."

But Christensen returned to find a strong Duke team that included Elton Brand, William Avery, Corey Maggette, and Shane Battier. Rather than compete with them for a spot on the team, he redshirted a year and worked his way back into the game. He returned last year as a sophomore.

But neither last year nor this did he get a lot of playing time. His sophomore year he played 295 minutes, averaging 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds, while this past season was about the same, in 30 games Christensen played 253 minutes, averaging 1.6 points and 2.1 rebounds.

With a national title under his belt, Christensen may be satisfied with his college career, but only so far. He still has his senior season to play. Hopefully he will get to play more.


Journey worth taking
Boston Globe 3Apr01 S2
By Michael Vega, Globe Staff
Christensen finds gold at end of road


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