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College basketball notebook: Duke’s Austin Rivers credits dad with assist after win over BC

02.19.12 at 9:01 pm ET
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Duke's Austin Rivers shoots over BC players (from left) John Cahill, Dennis Clifford and Matt Humphrey during Sunday night's game at Conte Forum. (AP)

In his first game in a Duke uniform in the Boston area, where his father serves as coach of the Celtics, freshman guard Austin Rivers lived up to his billing from beginning to end Sunday night. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half as the Blue Devils rallied from an early deficit to take a nine-point halftime lead before blowing out Boston College in the second half, finishing with a 75-50 victory.

After the game, Rivers was engaging and introspective as he took questions that he’s likely answered hundreds of times before about his relationship with his father, who was coaching the Celtics in Detroit at the same time.

Doc Rivers considered quitting the Celtics this past offseason, and the coach has made it clear that part of the reason was because he wanted to be more of a presence in his son’s life. Although Doc returned to the C’s, Austin said his father has played a bigger role during his standout freshman season.

“Actually, it’s amazing, I was less busy in high school but my relationship with my dad wasn’t as much,” Austin said. “We talked here and there. This year my schedule’s twice as busy in college but my relationship with my dad has gone above and beyond. I talk to him like every day now.”

Added Rivers: “Our relationship is really great right now. I think we’ve connected on a different level.”

Rivers appears to have the same cool, friendly temperament as his father, and Austin is appreciative that both his parents helped him turn out that way.

“Just as a person, him and my mom have made me, personality-wise. … They’ve raised me the best they can, and I thank God every day for having parents like that,” Austin said. “He’s done a great job of letting me be my own man but at the same time, when I do need help, he’s always there for me.”

For the record, Austin said the last time his father beat him one-on-one was sixth grade. When that response was greeted with chuckles from the reporters at his locker, he made sure that they knew he wasn’t joking. “I’m serious,” he said.

OFFICIAL PERSPECTIVE

Speaking of father-son relationships, BC senior John Cahill played Sunday night under the gaze of his father, longtime college referee John Cahill.

The elder Cahill does not often get to see his son play, but an injury forced him the dad to take a break this week and that allowed him to stop by Conte Forum and see his son chip in with a 3-pointer, a rebound and a steal in the loss to the Blue Devils.

Cahill’s story (recounted here) is an amazing one, as he went from a women’s scout team player to a starter after being invited to walk on last season as a senior. Now a first-year graduate student, Cahill continues to be a steadying influence for the young Eagles.

Like Rivers, Cahill also has frequent discussions with his father about basketball. Only, this is from a different perspective.

Said the elder Cahill: “I call him a lot and text him a lot after my own games and ask him about plays that I’m involved with. He’s very objective when we talk about plays and he asks me about rules and things like that. He’s got a real love for the game of basketball.”

Asked if the son is critical when his father blows a call, the dad said: “Oh, yeah. He’s my biggest supporter and my biggest critic.”

The senior Cahill used to take his son to games that he officiated, and on the car rides home the two would discuss the game. It’s clear the player has a better understanding of what he’s doing on the floor than most.

“I think he knows the rules. I think he knows how to get into good defensive position to draw charges. I think he knows what officials look for, where they’re looking, things like that,” the elder Cahill said. “He’s a pretty aggressive evaluator of officials and particular plays, whether he’s involved in the game or whether he’s watching it.”

Added the father: “For a 6-foot-1, 160-pound white guy, he’s a pretty good defender, only because he’s got a good idea of where to be, whether to go over the screens or under the screens, how to draw charges and things like that. And he learned all that from just watching the game, I think.”

The son can be seen before many games giving a quick hug to the game’s referees, many of whom he knows from travels with his dad. But he isn’t likely to catch a break once the game begins.

“I don’t think he gets any calls, but he does know most of these guys from having traveled on the road with me,” the dad said. “They say hello to him, but that’s about it.”

Read More: Austin Rivers, Doc Rivers, John Cahill,

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