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Wolfpack's Robinson still upbeat

At least Les Robinson still has a sense of humor. The second-year North Carolina State coach is going through a trying time, with his team suffering through a school-record nine-game losing streak. The Wolfpack has not won since it defeated No.

4 North Carolina on Jan.

22.

On Sunday, N.C. State lost to No.

1 Duke, but at least Robinson could laugh at himself. During the post-game news conference, someone dropped something and the noise sounded like a gunshot.

Robinson said: "Gosh, I thought somebody had an alum in here."

N.C. State alumni are probably upset at the losing streak but shouldn't be at fellow alumnus Robinson, who took over a program in shambles when Jim Valvano resigned two years ago.

Robinson guided the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament last year but lost his starting backcourt in Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe. Forward Tom Gugliotta has been outstanding at times, but he's the only big scorer and teams have found ways to neutralize him.

"We've got one great player, one other experienced player and everybody else is green," Robinson said.

Robinson, who played for the legendary Everett Case at N.C. State and got his coaching start in Florida at Cedar Key High School, took over a program in bad shape. But he's had success at East Tennessee State and at The Citadel and expects to do the same in Raleigh.

"I didn't know what to expect," Robinson said. "I tried not to dwell on the past. But I did dwell on the positives: great tradition, great things that have happened through the years, the national championships (1974, 1983). Jim Valvano was a great coach. Norm Sloan. Everett Case. All those guys built this tradition, not one of them. There's been a lot of great players, too.

"I have to pinch myself. When Jim did resign, and it became a reality, they called me right away and asked me if I was interested. And then it was a dream come true."

Hurley update: Duke point guard Bobby Hurley had his broken foot X-rayed on Monday, and his return is on schedule. The only thing holding him back will be coach Mike Krzyzewski. Feb.

26 will be three weeks since the injury, but Hurley probably won't play that night against Virginia.

"We're going to take a more conservative approach bringing him back," Krzyzewski said. "Virginia would be very optimistic. I would think it would be much further. If they (doctors) say he's ready for a game, I still may not put him in there and just take a few more days."

The Blue Devils, who have just played four consecutive road games, have won three in a row without Hurley. The junior point guard has been working out on his own. "He has annihilated two stairmasters and an exercise bike. He's in great shape. We look like we're coming back from war. He looks like he's been in a USO show."

_ BOB HARIG

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