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
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