DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski prides himself on eliminating surprises.
The former West Point cadet studies the opposition thoroughly and prepares his team for every possible situation. But on a night when the Blue Devils overcame strong resistance from unranked Villanova for Coach K's 500th victory at Duke, the university sprang a surprise party with nearly 10,000 invited friends at
Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Following the 98-85 victory in the Preseason NIT -- university officials unveiled Coach K Court.
"I think it was smart that they just used Coach K for the name," Krzyzewski said jokingly during the postgame ceremony. "If it were Krzyzewski, they'd have to change the dimensions of the court, or they'd have to build a new place."
Krzyzewski jokes now, but he wasn't laughing when supporters, fans and students wanted him gone only three years into his tenure.
Krzyzewski came to Duke in 1980 and guided the Blue Devils to a 17-13 record and a berth in the NIT. But over the next two years, the Blue Devils were a combined 21-34 and the calls for his ouster began.
"I've never told this story, but when I was a freshman, one of the Iron Dukes showed me a petition that they had going to get rid of the Duke football coach and Coach K," former Duke player and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. "I didn't know what to think."
Those who wanted Krzyzewski gone have long changed their minds.
Since the 1982-83 season, when Duke finished 11-17 overall and won only three games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Blue Devils have gone 462-113. In that span, they have won two national titles, reached the NCAA finals six times and advanced to the Final Four eight times.
Under Krzyzewski, Duke has been ranked No. 1 eight times and has spent 53 weeks as the nation's top-ranked team. The Blue Devils have finished first in The Associated Press final poll four times, including the past two seasons, and are 100-13 when ranked No. 1.
Duke also has won eight regular-season ACC titles and the conference tournament five times.
"You have to pinch yourself every once in while and remember that you're playing for a legend," Duke forward Shane Battier said after Friday's game. "We see him every day, and he's just Coach. But we know he's a legend, and on days like today, with all the emotion, were reminded of that."
Krzyzewski's coaching tree is nearly as impressive as his accomplishments.
Twelve of his former players currently are coaching college or professional teams, including Missouri's Quin Snyder, Seton Hall's Tommy Amaker and Delaware's David Henderson. Billy King, a 1988 Duke graduate, is the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Six former Krzyzewski assistants now are with Division I schools, including Washington's Bob Bender, SMU's Mike Dement and Notre Dame's Mike Brey.
Krzyzewski also has coached some of the nation's best college players over the past 20 years, including Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Johnny Dawkins.
"I don't know if his X and O ability is better than anybody else, but I know this, when he says it, you believe it," Bilas said.
Krzyzewski reached his 500th victory at Duke in 660 games. Only Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (583), UNLV's Jerry Tarkanian (614), North Carolina's Dean Smith (653) and Oklahoma State's Henry Iba (654) have done it faster.
Now Krzyzewski joins former Duke athletic director Eddie Cameron
on the marquee of the vintage arena.
"To have my name on that court is great ... and I'll try to continue to honor that court in the way we have over these 21 years," said Krzyzewski, who is 573-219 overall, including five seasons at Army. "I'm very humbled by it."
|Duke students and fans cheer Friday as "Coach K Court" is unveiled at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
No. 2 Duke gives Krzyzewski his 500th win
Krzyzewski through the years