Earlier this year, we dedicated a full version of “The 15” to honoring the careers of Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. Perhaps you might think that after Brady reconsidered his stance (and made us look a bit foolish for feeling the need to honor him), we’d think twice about giving more print to recognition for a retiring opponent.
Au contraire! We are, of course, the best of sports, and when a legend retires that we saw battle a local team so frequently throughout the years, we want to pause to honor that person. It’s about doing what’s right even if it pains us to recognize their accomplishments. And that’s again the case this month, as we were so pained to see Hall of Fame Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski lose his final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, fall short in his final trip to the ACC tournament and again in his final trip to the NCAA Tournament. What a shame.
We now offer “The 15 Greatest Coach K Memories,” in chronological order.
1. Jan. 10, 1981: Maryland 94, Duke 79 at Cole Field House
Obviously, Mike Krzyzewski wouldn’t want a definitive list of his greatest moments to not include his first-ever matchup with Maryland. Particularly since it involved something as memorable as Buck Williams getting his revenge (24 points, 15 rebounds) for Kenny Dennard’s uncalled foul that cost the Terrapins the 1980 ACC championship game.
2. March 11, 1984: Maryland 74, Duke 62 in ACC Tournament Championship
And similarly, there’s just no way Krzyzewski would want a list like this to exist without it including his first-ever appearance in the ACC Tournament championship game. Sure, the Blue Devils finished as runners-up this time around, but he got a front row seat to watch Joyce Driesell dance along with the Amen chorus in the game’s closing seconds!
3. Jan. 14, 1985: Maryland 78, Duke 76 (OT) at Cole Field House
I bet if you asked Krzyzewski about the most important lessons he learned during his career, this one would be particularly high on the list. Duke was the No. 2 team in the country at this point and blew a 14-point lead. You just have to imagine facing that adversity helped significantly on his path to being a coaching legend.
4. Jan. 28, 1995: Maryland 74, Duke 72 at Cole Field House; March 1, 1995: Maryland 94, Duke 92 at Cameron Indoor Stadium
You know, it’s important that we included these games on the list because it is within the realm of possibility that Krzyzewski doesn’t remember them at all. You see, Krzyzewski had what was obviously an extraordinarily serious back injury and there was just simply no way he could serve as coach during those games and so it was important that the games be reflected on Pete Gaudet’s record and not his own and, no, that’s definitely not an unreasonable thing to do when you’re wealthy and your assistant coach is making (checks notes) $16,000 a year.
5. March 8, 1996: Maryland 82, Duke 69 in ACC Tournament
Being the basketball historian he is, you know Krzyzewski wouldn’t want an official recognition of his career to not include this ACC tournament quarterfinal, the first head-to-head matchup he lost to future Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams.
6. Jan. 26, 1997: Maryland 74, Duke 70 at Cole Field House
This one had to stand out for Krzyzewski because his future assistant coach, Steve Wojciechowski (Cardinal Gibbons), was back in his home state with the ball in the closing seconds and his team down by two and a chance to be the hero. And yes, he committed a charge that lost the game for his team, but that type of theater just doesn’t happen every day.
7. Feb. 9, 2000: Maryland 98, Duke 87 at Cameron Indoor Stadium
This one was important, too, because you have to remember that before Juan Dixon (Calvert Hall) went off for 31 points on this night, the Blue Devils had won 46 consecutive games at home. That’s really impressive! Had Terence Morris not hit two huge threes late, they might have made it to 50!
8. Feb. 27, 2001: Maryland 91, Duke 80 at Cameron Indoor Stadium
You know, everyone always talks about the legendary 2001 matchup between Maryland and Duke, and I don’t blame them. Dixon scored 28 and was brilliant defensively as the Terps won on the road. It was spectacular. I imagine the teams probably played at Cole Field House that year too, but, like, who could possibly remember how that game went?
9. Feb. 17, 2002: Maryland 87, Duke 73 at Cole Field House
People often associate the greatest play in college basketball history with Krzyzewski, and I can’t blame them for that, either. I mean, he was standing RIGHT THERE chatting with Jay Williams when Steve Blake took the ball from him and went coast-to-coast to end the first half. So you might even say Krzyzewski was responsible for the moment! That’s incredible!
10. Jan. 18, 2003: Maryland 87, Duke 72 at Xfinity Center
This one definitely had to be high on Krzyzewski’s list of memories since it was the first time he ever got to coach at Xfinity Center, and considering he has had to do most of his coaching in (this isn’t shtick) a prehistoric facility unfit for major college basketball, it had to be nice to see what a legitimate, modern facility looked like. Plus, the Blue Devils were undefeated all the way until Jan. 18 that year! That could have been very special!
11. March 14, 2004: Maryland 95, Duke 87 (OT) in ACC Tournament Championship
If you had been there while Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Mona Lisa or while The Rolling Stones were crafting “Satisfaction,” you’d probably remember that, right? Similarly, just imagine how special it must have been for Krzyzewski to be there for the creation of the greatest moment in internet history, “Crying Duke Kid!” Plus, it’s pretty incredible that Krzyzewski faced off against Maryland in two ACC title games and managed to finish in second place both times!
12. Jan. 26, 2005: Maryland 75, Duke 66 at Cameron Indoor Stadium; Feb. 12, 2005: Maryland 99, Duke 92 (OT) at Xfinity Center
How could Krzyzewski ever forget about the first time his team was part of the game that hosted ESPN’s “College GameDay?” That was the case in this February matchup and, what a bummer, the Blue Devils had five different players foul out en route to a hard-luck loss.
13. Feb. 11, 2007: Maryland 72, Duke 60 at Xfinity Center; Feb. 28, 2007: Maryland 85, Duke 77 at Cameron Indoor Stadium
How could Krzyzewski forget the first times he ever got to match up with future All-American Greivis Vasquez? Just a freshman at the time, Vasquez finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double in his first career game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. You don’t get to see that type of greatness every day.
14. March 3, 2010: Maryland 79, Duke 72 at Xfinity Center
And seriously, how could a definitive Mike Krzyzewski list leave off the last time he ever got to march into College Park with a top-five team only to get his butt kicked by Gary Williams? This is about documenting history, you guys.
15. Feb. 16, 2013: Maryland 83, Duke 81 at Xfinity Center; March 15, 2013: Maryland 83, Duke 74 in ACC Tournament
You guys might remember that before the death of the ACC, rival schools used to square off with each other multiple times every year. The 2012-13 campaign marked the last season before the league died and, yes, Mark Turgeon and the Terrapins managed to take two of the matchups, but I have to think that Krzyzewski would want to recognize the league that was before it was blown up.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Duke Athletics