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Bush Greets Basketball Champs

April 23, 2001

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush saluted NCAA basketball champions from Duke and Notre Dame at the White House Monday. But he didn’t shoot hoops with any of them.

``The weather’s been such that I haven’t been practicing my sky hook lately,″ Bush told the Duke men and Notre Dame women at a ceremony near the small South Lawn basketball court that his father, the former president, had installed years ago.

``Looking at the size of some of these guys I’m not sure I want to try to do it now anyway.″

The president saluted the teams other than for their skills.

``Reviewing the rosters and the success of this club, both Duke and Notre Dame recruited for athletic talent but they also recruited character as well,″ he said. ``These championships go to prove that good people do finish first.″

Bush empathized with the player who called the Fighting Irish’s win ``scary″ after they rallied to beat Purdue in their championship game.

``I know what you’re talking about,″ Bush said. ``It reminds me of election night.″

He accepted jerseys from each team, shortening Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s name in acceptance.

``The reason I call him Coach K is because sometimes I have trouble pronouncing long words,″ Bush said, laughing.

Krzyzewski had a bit of trouble himself. Handing Bush a No. 1 Duke jersey, the coach suggested they should have thought to give him ″41″ instead.

``Forty-three,″ Bush corrected him, referring to a Bush family nickname for the son of the 41st president. ``Forty-one’s the other guy.″

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