A classic matchup between the student and the mentor is on tap Saturday night in Brooklyn.
It’s not exactly something that Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski are looking forward to.
Dawkins will face the man who he played for and coached under for the first time when his Cardinal try to upset the fourth-ranked Blue Devils in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic championship.
One of the most decorated players in Duke history, Dawkins holds the school record for baskets (1,026) and ended his Blue Devils career as their all-time leader with 2,556 points before J.J. Redick broke that mark.
It’s possible Krzyzewski owes more to his first major recruit to the coach’s astounding success at Duke than anyone else. The Blue Devils went 11-17 in Dawkins’ freshman season – Krzyzewski’s third at Duke – before going 84-21 over his last three, with a 37-3 mark his senior year and a loss to Louisville in the NCAA title game.
That marked the first of Krzyzewski’s 11 Final Four appearances, tying him for second all-time with Dean Smith. John Wooden holds the record with 12.
After Dawkins’ NBA career ended, he spent 11 seasons on Krzyzewski’s staff. Duke (4-0) went to three Final Fours and won a national title in 2000-01 during their time together.
Neither is excited about this matchup.
”First of all, I’m proud of Johnny. They’re an outstanding team,” Krzyzewski said. ”They’re big, they’re huge. Johnny has a really good system, how he uses them. I’d rather not play him. He’s part of our family. It’s too bad we have to play one another, that’s the way it is.”
Dawkins had similar thoughts after Stanford (3-0) advanced with Friday’s 89-60 rout of UNLV.
"I don’t think any of us look forward to playing each other," he said. "(Krzyzewski) and I have always been so close that typically we do not play each other during the season. It just so happens that this is a tournament setting and you play the teams in front of you if they win."
Krzyzewski has never beaten Stanford, losing in 1999 and 2000.
Dawkins will try to devise a way to slow down star freshman Jahlil Okafor, who had his first rough effort with a season-low 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting in Friday’s 74-54 win over Temple.
”Ja has to be ready for that,” Krzyzewski said. ”He’s an outstanding player. He’s going to be a terrific player. He had 20 shots tonight. I’d love to get him 20 shots."
Okafor made 25 of 30 shots in his first three games, averaging 17.7 points.
Stanford broke out of a shooting slump with 14 3-pointers on 20 attempts Friday after going 5 of 21 in its first two games. Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown combined for 10 3-pointers and each scored 18.
"Every game we play we want to leave our mark," Brown said. "We don’t care who the other team is. We just focus on ourselves and play to the best of our abilities."
The Blue Devils seek to open with at least five wins for the seventh time in eight seasons. The Cardinal last began with four wins when they started 5-0 three seasons ago.