- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - It’s going to be tough in 2014-15 for Duke to improve on this past year.

Athletic director Kevin White thinks the Blue Devils can do it.

The football team reached the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, as did the historically strong men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The lacrosse team and women’s golf team claimed national titles and the field hockey team reached the NCAA championship game.

In an interview with The Associated Press, White called it a “really good year” but added that “we were really close to having one of those really great years.”

To White, that involves reaching the top five in the Directors’ Cup - presented annually to the top overall college athletic program.

In the latest rankings, Duke was No. 7.

That’s Duke’s highest ranking since it was fifth in 2011, and among ACC schools, only No. 2 Notre Dame ranked higher.

“That’s a benchmark that we’re shooting for,” White said. “We think we belong in that neighborhood.”

Plenty of things came together for the Blue Devils in a wide variety of sports.

“There’s a lot of indicators to suggest that it wasn’t a fantastic year, but a really good year,” White said. “And it had a chance to be one of the really historic special years. And I’m hoping that (2014-15) can be all of that and then some.”

Nine of its teams were ranked in the top 10 at some point during the year, including the perennially powerful men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Duke became the first school to have its football and both basketball teams reach ACC championship games - though the Blue Devils also lost all three. The baseball team would have reached one, too, if not for an extra-inning loss in round-robin pool play.

The men’s lacrosse team claimed its second straight national title and third in five years. The women’s golf team won its sixth NCAA title and its first since going back-to-back in 2006 and ‘07.

But the biggest breakthrough came in football - where coach David Cutcliffe’s team continued its transformation from perhaps the worst power-conference program to Coastal Division champion.

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