It was a fitting end on the race to 1,000 wins. Mike Krzyzewski found himself in a struggle. Similar to where he found himself just a couple years in to his head coaching career.
One NIT visit as head coach at Army and he was expected to turn around Duke? Two losing seasons in the first three seasons at Duke? This guy with the name no one can pronounce?
Flash forward and it was another name people looked twice at. How can Duke stop Sir Dominic Pointer, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds?
The only thing that would be consistent about this tenure would be the inability to pronounce his name. That’s what Duke fans were saying after those first three years. This guy can’t coach. He can’t win.
The only thing consistent is Duke playing late in March. That’s what Duke fans were saying from 1985-1994, when Duke made it to at least the Sweet 16 in all but one year.
He can’t bounce back. The injury is too much. We need a new coach. 1994-95, Coach K was on the sidelines for just 12 games due to injury. His system was good, it brought Duke back to the national light. But, could he keep it up?
He might coach forever. He’s turned into a chameleon. After spending time as the head coach of the US Men’s National team, he became ‘hip’ again. After all, he now had LeBron James and Kevin Durant on speed dial. Names recruits care about, not Bobby Hurley and Johnny Dawkins.
Duke runs the best man-to-man defense in the nation.
Duke needs help defensively and now adjusts to a 2-3 zone.
Duke needs players like J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams and Shane Battier who will stay in college for years and help win the Duke way.
The Blue Devils have Kyrie Irving for 11 games. They bring in Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor. Jones and Okafor played all but four minutes combined in the win that made him Coach 1K.
The final horn went off and the hugs started. Coach K did what Coach K does, tried to deflect the attention and put it on his team. He talked about how it’s special, but just a game to give Duke 17 wins on the season.
He let his players go nuts, put on hats and shirts and celebrate as Coach K went through the interview process before finding his wife. The truth is, there’s an end in sight. He even acknowledged it in the postgame saying he turns 68 this month and the end is sooner than later.
In the meantime, thank you Coach K. Thank you for letting me hate Duke. Thank you for letting me argue with friends about Duke. Thank you for helping college basketball turn into what it is.
Thank you for making me upset 1,000 times.