Celebrating Coach K: 10 highlight victories
With more victories than any other college basketball coach in D-1 history not named Pat Summitt, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski goes for yet another career milestone Sunday on Fox Sports 1 against St. John’s: his 1,000th career win. With so many noteworthy moments among the first 999 victories, here’s a look back at Coach K’s 10 best W’s.
10. Nov. 28, 1975 — This was win No. 1 for the 28-year-old West Point graduate who coached his alma mater to a roundly convincing 56-29 win over Lehigh. "I thought the defense did well," Krzyzewski said after the game. "The offense was off. They tried so hard they got tight." Even then, that critical coaching eye was ever-present.
9. April 1, 1991 — No one remembers that after the United States’ "Miracle on Ice" win over the Russians at the 1980 Winter Olympics, they still had to go out and win the gold medal game against Finland. Same thing applied to Duke after its shocking upset of UNLV in the semifinal game (more on that later). But like the Americans at Lake Placid, Duke came through in the end, paced by 18 points from Christian Laettner and 12 points and nine dimes from Bobby Hurley. The Blue Devils’ 72-65 win over Kansas gave Coach K his first of four national titles.
8. March 10, 1984 — This was the season (24-10, his first 20-win season on Tobacco Road) that Krzyzewski hit his stride, as evidenced by his team’s surprising upset of UNC in the semis of the ACC tournament. Though Michael Jordan led all scorers with 22, it was Johnny Dawkins’ 16 points and seven assists that helped stave off a furious second-half comeback by the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels and pull off a 77-75 victory in Greensboro.
7. April 6, 1992 — The college hoops world was agog over Michigan’s Fab Five, who advanced all the way to the title game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. But Coach K’s veteran squad kept up the pressure all night long — every starter played at least 32 minutes — and Duke cruised to a 20-point win and back-to-back national titles.
6. April 2, 2001 — Nine years after winning a title in the Twin Cities, Duke returned to the Metrodome and rode an inspired performance by Shane Battier, who played all 40 minutes and finished with an 18-11-6 stat line, to defeat Arizona by 10 and clinch Krzyzewski’s third career title.
5. March 7, 1999 — A week after beating UNC on the road by 20 to cap off the first perfect 16-0 record in ACC regular-season play, Duke topped UNC again — this time by 23 — to win yet another ACC tournament title. Such dominance perhaps comes easy when your roster boasts four players (Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Corey Maggette, William Avery) who’d be selected among the first 14 picks of the next NBA Draft.
4. March 29, 1986 — A 71-67 victory over fellow No. 1 seed Kansas in the Final Four propelled Duke to its first national title game under Coach K’s reign. Duke would lose to Denny Crum’s Louisville squad in the championship, but seven more title game appearances would follow over the next three decades of March Madness play.
3. March 30, 1991 — Duke’s two-point win over then-undefeated UNLV ranks as one of the most monumental upsets in college basketball history. It took down a Larry Johnson-led goliath, a team that seemed poised to rank among the great UCLA teams of the ’70s, but the game instead paved the way for Coach K’s first national championship two days later.
2. April 5, 2010 — Coach K wins his fourth title with a 61-59 win over Butler in the championship, and we get to forever imagine a world where Gordon Hayward’s halfcourt shot goes in to win. Fortunately for Duke, it was the greatest shot in college basketball history that didn’t go down.
1. March 28, 1992 — The regional finals in Philadelphia. The Shot. If you thought Coach’s No. 1 win would be any other game, you’re overthinking this whole endeavor. This was, you could reasonably argue, the greatest game in college basketball history, and Duke emerged on top.