Coach K’s last home game: UNC turns Mike Krzyewski’s Cameron Indoor final into its own celebration
Durham, North Carolina This is what can happen when you’re trying to plan a retirement party with 9,000 of your closest friends, with the hard caveat of including a game of basketball.
This was Mike Krzyzewski’s night. duke She staged one of the greatest farewells college sports have ever seen. It was nostalgia. It was complicated. He was a quintessential duke. Which means that a lot of people love him and a lot of people hate him. Which means that it has been done perfectly. All of this created the largest backlog, perhaps ever, for a regular season college basketball game.
He then added the biggest rivalry in American sports to its legend with one of the most surprising surprises in its 102-year history.
Krzyzewski’s final farewell home farewell was officially sabotaged by the troubled Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels. Who are these guys by the way? Not the same group that was glued to the 20 at home against the roosters a month ago. This team scored 67 and it was totally embarrassing. Saturday night’s team averaged 1.25 points per possession and looked like a top 10 team in the country. North Carolina, the loser by 11.5 points, not only beat Duke, but ran away from the match and spoiled Krzyzewski’s estimate in an appropriate fashion.
Rarely are the nights when these two lifeless foes come together and it is overwhelmingly assumed that either team will outdo the other. Foolishly, most of us thought exactly that.
UNC delivered a K and a L and snatched a W so beautiful, it instantly ranks near the top of the Tar Heels’ greatest regular-season wins in the over 100-year history of this proud show.
This is how you compete.
“I hate using the term Navy,” said Krzyzewski, a West Point graduate. “But keep a ship afloat. Our ship would have sunk today, no matter what.”
At Cameron it was to be a celebration of a career like no other. And they were, but that ovation came with confusion. After the loss, the Duke players pulled out, sullen, and ended up sitting on the bench where UNC was just moments before. Krzyzewski appeared with some understandable disappointment in his face. He grabbed the hand of his beloved wife, Mickey, and bowed to a quick comment out of the text as he walked alone to the microphone set up in Central Court.
“This is not part of the programme,” he said. “This is my improvisation by me. I’m sorry this afternoon.”
The place wanted to cheer despite the loss. Krzyzewski did not own it.
He said, “Everyone shut up.” “Let me just say, it’s unacceptable. Today it was unacceptable, but the season was very acceptable. And I’ll tell you, the season is not over.”
Then came the cheers. He wanted everyone to see that this was the man they needed to see at that moment. He’s the one they’ve seen most of the night too, because North Carolina had a duke in its wake and old Krzyzewski was in his rage and fire. The judges rode and didn’t look like a guy who was ready to walk away from the competition. That was Carolina, damn it. After that, he had nothing but compliments to pay to Davis’ players and his show.
“Their program, like ours, is built on a lot of pride and they showed that day by coming here,” Krzyszewski said.
With Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Silver, Killer Murray and so many other dignitaries in the building, it’s fair to guess that Cameron Indoor Stadium has never been so full before. The official capacity is 9314, but there will likely be more than that in the arena. The Cameron Indoor got hot and stayed hot, thickening the already heavy environment once Cameron Crazes were introduced to the rickety bleachers.
In contrast, respected Duke basketball alumni — nearly 100 of them, nearly half of Krzyzewski’s former players — packed the stands a few rows behind Duke’s bench, most of them standing throughout the game.
“It was emotional but before the game you would think and feel a little tearful and then say, ‘Stop, I can’t do that,'” Krzyszewski said. In fact, when all the guys were there, it was like, wow, it wasn’t quite as emotional as it was cool.”
Christian Lattner, Grant Hill, Jay Williams, JJ Riddick, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Steve Wojciechowski, and nearly 90 of their fellow brothers all stood for the entire game behind Duke’s bench. It felt like the university team was watching JV’s advice early on. These guys want to crush Carolina. They didn’t want the drama. UNC-Duke is without theatrical performances and without tension. The type of game that was rarely provided for them.
“The last few days have been very good and it was a celebration of our program and because I’m off training, it was like celebrating me, which I don’t like,” Krzyzewski said. “So we’ve been living in a penthouse for the last few days with room service and everyone saying nice things and we didn’t play Hunger today.”
North Carolina was laser-focused, starting within minutes of Monday’s Tar Heels overtime win vs. Syracuse. Davis walked into the locker room and told the team there was no time to celebrate. They had less than five days to prepare for the biggest game of the season. Duke wait. It’s time to get to work and stay focused. Davis played the situation perfectly. North Carolina warmed up and practiced effectively in the shadows all week long. Reduced to a junior player in preparation for Saturday’s game, the game itself felt secondary to Krzyzewski’s farewell.
Just what North Carolina wanted. Krzyzewski then admitted he could feel like he was coming, too.
“I was worried about some things getting into the match,” Krzyzewski said. One: Hmm.
Conspiracies arrived immediately. UNC – not ahead in their February 5 defeat to Duke – opened the match with a 9-2 lead. Duke didn’t take the lead until the 11:07 mark. The Heels held out 14-0 in the first half of Duke’s, stabilizing enough to cut the first-half lead to two.
It turned out to be the first time North Carolina had won a game this season despite losing in the first half. It’s also been historic in this respect: Never before had UNC played a game that saw four Tar Heels score at least 20 points. On Saturday, the following happened: Armando Bacot 23, Caleb Love 22, RJ Davis 21 and Brady Manic 20.
Bakout was amazing. Krzyzewski said he’s the best in the NFL this season, going 10-11 from the ground. He also had a big lump of late that frustrated Duke’s attempt to keep her close.
Saturday was also North Carolina’s first unranked team win against Cameron’s top-five Blue Devils since 1990.
“It’s a really good team and they played a lot better than we played today,” Krzyszewski said.
This was Davis’ 31st game as coach for North Carolina. It was, by far, his best. The most impressive performance was in North Carolina this season, without coming in second. Amazingly, Davis rode his five lawns the entire second half. Backout, Manek, Love, Davis, and Black weren’t left out. Late in the game, when you suspected another Duke push was coming, instead it was David and Manek over and over again. Trevor Keeles3-pointer from the corner with 2:58 left that cuts it to 79-74 North Carolina. It’s the last time Duke hopes to win. Manek answered with a 3-pointer from the opposite corner, cementing the lead to eight and keeping Duke away.
UNC beat Duke 21-10 during the final 5:12. Duke missed seven of his last ten shots. Duke outperformed North Carolina by 58.1% to 38.9% in the first half of the shooting. The second 20 minutes were a script flip: UNC hit 59.4%; Duke shriveled 42.1% in firing. It was Krzyzewski’s melting moment. Duke’s shots stopped falling, and Cameron’s faces began to droop, a stark contrast to perhaps 100 UNC fans pressed behind the Tar Heels bench who were starting to shriek with glee. Outnumbered 9,000+ in this gothic basketball cathedral, their time was coming. This was really going to happen.
After the match, this strong scene in the locker room. Davis and Bakut hugging for more than a minute. Manek is crying too.
“He went through hard times at that time Oklahoma“For him he was able to experience that side of him,” UNC assistant Brad Frederick told CBS Sports.
Making things even better for UNC, the win doubles as a career decisive win in the NCAA Championship. It’s hard to see how the NCAA Championship Selection Committee can keep this team off the field, no matter what happens in the ACC. This team should be in.
With time running out, the Carolina players gathered on the field in happy celebration. The lunatics were stunned. Love waved them goodbye before returning to the handshake line. (Then we got a little extra saltiness in competition, like Assistant Duke Chris Carwell Davis did not shake handsand lighting up message boards and social media in the process.)
It was Krzyszowski’s day, then it was North Carolina night. The North Carolina bus to Franklin Street stopped without a police barrier around 9:30 p.m. and thousands came out to celebrate. The players went out and joined the Carolina students. They have earned it. Even Davis had to stick his head out and acknowledge the crowd. It’s been a good year, and fans haven’t always treated him this way. Maybe tonight will turn things around for the better.
Now the ACC Championship is waiting for you. Krzyzewski admitted that the past three or four days had made him “a little tired”.
He said, “I’m glad this is over.” “Let’s just train and see what the hell happens in the tournament. It’s been kind of the last few days and a big part of it has happened, I think, because we’ve already won (the ACC regular season title). You don’t feel pressure. we Owns To win that match.”
We can learn that the best thing for Duke was losing this match. It’s possible that the disappointment of this loss will never end (if there was one regular season game you couldn’t lose, it was this one), but the shock will soon come. Perhaps that will bring Duke the same kind of urgency and focus that North Carolina used on Saturday night, when the best rivalry in American sports skewed the plot once again.
Given the backlog and hypothetical nature of Duke’s winning so much, this is arguably the most satisfying – if not fun – UNC fan win over a Duke ever. You have one chance to spoil Coach K.’s last home game. Carolina passed the test. Her base will keep this on the Duke’s faithful forever. It’s too bittersweet for Duke, but that makes him formidable for the competition. Down in Carolina, this person will live in a conversation forever, no matter what their favorite shade of blue is.
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