The Duke Blue Devils watched legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski one last time at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night. After 42 years running the show, he is retiring after this college basketball season.
Saturday was his final time coaching Duke in a home game, and it came against North Carolina in one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports. The place was packed, former players came in to see Coach K one final time at home, and the atmosphere was electric.
Unfortunately, the Tar Heels spoiled the retirement party for Krzyzewski, and after the game, the Duke legend showed that the passion hasn’t dwindled one bit.
Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski falls to North Carolina in final home game
Duke has been riding high all season long, and Coach K’s send-off was expected to be an electric one. But, Hubert Davis coached the Tar Heels to victory, and Cameron Indoor Stadium was stunned on a night where they paid an unworldly amount for tickets.
Duke lost just its fifth game of the year, and North Carolina got revenge after losing by 20 to the Blue Devils back on February 5.
More importantly, the Tar Heels should be safe in the NCAA Tournament field after this massive win. Before that, they were on the bubble, something they aren’t known for after years of dominating the ACC and being the 1-2 punch with Duke.
After the game, Coach K didn’t hold back, and his comments prove that he is still motivated to get it done. Even after 40-plus years, losses such as this one hurt big time.
Coach K gets brutally honest after a frustrating loss to North Carolina
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t what most people were expecting. Then again, that is what makes college basketball so unique.
A long list of former Duke players flocked to Durham, North Carolina, to watch him one final time. The tickets to get in were nearly the price of a Super Bowl ticket, and all eyes were on Coach K.
But, he wasn’t thrilled with the way things ended and didn’t want anybody to cheer after the outcome (h/t Matt Norlander of CBS Sports).
“Everyone be quiet. Let me just say, it’s unacceptable. Today was unacceptable, but the season has been very acceptable. And I’ll tell you, the season isn’t over.”Coach K
It wasn’t the result Duke was hoping for, and while Coach K wasn’t happy, he admitted how enjoyable the days leading up to the game were.
“The last few days has been so really good and it’s been like a celebration of our program and because I’m stopping coaching, it’s kind of like a celebration of me, which I don’t like that. So, basically we’re living in a penthouse the last few days with room service and everyone saying nice things and we didn’t play hungry today.”Coach K
Living in a penthouse with room service is how Coach K described his lengthy sending-off party. It will be remembered forever, and, unfortunately, Duke wasn’t able to defeat North Carolina for the final game.
Nonetheless, Coach K isn’t worried about that. He also isn’t thinking about retirement just yet. Not at all.
Moreover, this could motivate them as they prepare for the NCAA Tournament.
Duke remains one of the favorites to win the NCAA title and this North Carolina loss might propel them to send Coach K off on top
Going into the Duke-North Carolina showdown, the Blue Devils were one of the favorites to win the whole thing. The loss to the Tar Heels shouldn’t do too much to their chances.
That loss and bitter taste might be the extra push they need. The ACC Tournament will be a massive test, and a title will essentially guarantee them a 1-seed.
Coach K has enjoyed a ton of success in the tourney, including five national championships. This year’s group has the talent to get it done, and they have already defeated Kentucky and Gonzaga in non-conference and rattled off seven straight victories before Saturday.
It would be a storybook ending. He is one of the best coaches in college basketball, one of the best in all sports, finishing out his career with a championship.
The path is there, and this loss to North Carolina should fuel the Blue Devils even more to give Coach K that glorified send-off.