Indianapolis — “Coach Wooden,” Mike Krzyzewski said early Tuesday, “he’s on a separate level.” And that’s true: John Wooden still has twice as many NCAA titles as any other coach, and the only one who has half that many just won his fifth here Monday night.
But this is also true: Wooden won his 10 in a 12-year span at a time when only conference champs made the NCAA tournament and winning a national championship required four postseason victories, not six. Krzyzewski has taken his five over 24 years, which means he has been winning NCAA titles for more than a generation. And he’s as good now as he has ever been, which is to say he stands alone on Level 1A, just a hair behind the Wizard of Westwood.
The game Krzyzewski worked against Wisconsin was among his greatest, and that’s saying something. Duke trailed by nine points with 13 minutes remaining and had its best player, Jahlil Okafor, laden with fouls. (He would play only 22 minutes.) Unlike Kentucky’s John Calipari, who froze against Wisconsin just as Kentucky had taken the lead, Coach K took to conjuring on the fly.
He deployed freshman sub Grayson Allen, who averaged 4 points a game, and had him go one-on-five. (Think about that.) Allen scored Duke’s next eight points to make it a game again. Then freshman guard Tyus Jones carried the Blue Devils home. (He would score 23 points, 17 in the second half.) Dealt a losing hand, Krzyzewski came up trumps. That’s why he’s the best in the business.
Wisconsin had the stuff to beat unbeaten Kentucky, but it couldn’t hold off Duke, which starts three freshmen to the Wildcats’ two. In the end, Krzyzewski even one-upped Calipari as the master of one-and-done. Krzyzewski is playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else plays Go Fish.
Before the game, a man who works for the ACC said: “I shouldn’t get nervous because I always expect Mike to think of something.” Sure enough, Mike thought of something. He thought of a way to win his fifth NCAA championship, and there’s a very good chance it won’t be his last.
From myajc: Coach K works his magic and Duke wins again.