SAN FRANCISCO – There were 68 seconds on the game clock at the Chase Center when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski put his 75-year-old vertebrae to the test. He gestured to his players as they assembled at the other end of the court following a foul-by-d Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry Jerseys esign committed by Blue Devils point guard Jeremy Roach. Coach K reached down and slapped the floor.
Roach seemed to see it first, and he mimicked his coach, and then each of the other four Duke players followed. It was not as Jerome Robbins-choreographed as it might have been back in Quin Snyder’s day, or Steve Wojciechowski’s, when those floor slaps became the trademark of the burgeoning Blue Devils program as a representation of their collective commitment to defense.
“What the hell? Why not?” Krzyzewski told The Sporting News. “Our guys really wanted that because it’s like across the bridge to the Brotherhood. They can now say they did that.”
It never had been the symbol of a team that won with zone D, though.
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Imagine that: After 1,567 games, after 1,200 victories, after 99 March Madness wins, after 12 Final Fours and five NCAA championships and with one retirement after five decades in coaching getting closer with each lapsing 30-second clock, Coach K is willing to change.
In past seasons, he almost never called for a zone defense and, on those rare occasions when he let one slip, it always was the decision of a coach who recognized he had little choice. This time, there was but a dash of desperation. This was an aggressive passive move.
“In our scouting report: No. 12 defense, if necessary. Actually, if you looked at our thing, it says: If necessary. And it was necessary,” Krzyzewski told reporters. “It kept down the amount of physicality, because they were wearing us down. So the zone gave us a chance to kind of dance around the ring a little bit, instead of being in a corner.”
You can say No. 2 seed Duke earned Krzyzewski’s 17th Elite Eight appearance and this 78-73 Sweet 16 victory over No. 3 seed Texas Tech because the Blue Devils scored on each of their last eight possessions against the nation’s best defense – judged to be so both statistically and anecdotally – and you would not be wrong. The Devils wound up shooting 51.9 percent from the field and ringing up 1.16 points per possession according to KenPom.co Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry Jerseys m, the best by any Tech opponent this season.
All-American freshman forward Paolo Banchero scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including a surprising three makes on four long-distance attempts, but there was a bit of every facet of his game displayed in the decisive stretch. With 5:38 left, he drove to his right across the lane and found center Mark Williams with a pass that led to the NCAA Tournament’s most thunderous dunk and a 64-61 Duke advantage. Banchero rescued two dubious possessions with 3-pointers, one from the left corner after the Devils did everything but turn it over, another with 2:54 left when he was covered and there wasn’t much of an opening but he just shot it off the bounce from well above the top of the key to give Duke a 69-68 lead. With 1:57 left and the lead just three points, Banchero stepped up into the center of the lane to steal a risky backhanded bounce pass by Tech big man Bryson Williams.
“Paolo did a couple of things tonight that he has never done in his life, and he did it instinctually. He just wanted to win so badly, and it was so beautiful to see,” Krzyzewski said.
“I’ve been around so many good players, and when they just go into their own thing, when it’s stuff you can’t teach them and they just do it – that’s what he did for that little bit of time. And it gave us such verve.”
It wasn’t just the most prominent talent among the Devils who played heroically, though. For a second consecutive game, the biggest player at the biggest moment was the smallest and least acclaimed starter, 6-3 guard Jeremy Roach, dou WVU vs. Pitt Rivalry Shirts bted often enough that Krzyzewski benched him Flagler Saints clothes twice only to restore him as a starter for the start of this tournament.
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He rang up five assists in this game, an exceptional total for him, and he maneuvered through Tech’s elite defense for three driving baskets that, along with one of Banchero’s threes, carried Duke’s lead from 66-65 to 73-68.
“He always has been able to step up in big moments,” Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry Shirts Banchero said. “We trust him 100 percent. We’ve trusted him the whole year.
“We know what he does. He is comfortable out there all the time, and so when the ball is in his hands, we’re comfortable, and we know it’s – have you ever seen it get taken from him? Exactly.”
The greatest coaches do not win without great players, but the greatest players do not win without great coaching. Krzyzewski’s decision to shift into a zone defense may or may not have been brilliant tactically, because it wasn’t Angelo State Rams Jerseys as though the Blue Devils seized control of the game at that point. The timing was intriguing, because Tech had done nothing to extend its small lead in the early stages of the second half..
“I thought they were wearing us down. I don’t think that – they were,” Krzyzewski told The Sporting News. “And just to try to give them a different look.”
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It seemed a worthy gambit, but after initial success for the Devils, Tech carved up that 2-3 zone with three consecutive baskets that built a 56-52 Tech lead, and Krzyzewski NCAA Sweatshirts and Hoodies called timeout after the last. It seemed certain he did so to revert to a man-to-man scheme and to assure each player understood his responsibilities. Except that’s not what happened.
“They were cutting,” Krzyzewski told TSN. “What happened was the zone was too far out, and so at the timeout John Scheyer and Chris Carrawell said they were beating us on cuts, not on threes, so we made that adjustment.”
From that point in the game until the Devils switched schemes with 2:58 left, Tech went 5-of-10 from the foul line and committed one turnover. At the final media timeout, with the lead at only a single point, the players petitioned their coach to change back to man.
“It was like a Catholic boys choir. It was a chorus. They all said it, and they said it with enthusiasm: We want to do this. We want to go man,” Krzyzewski said. “God bless them. What a great NCAA Dresses group, these kids. They’ve grown up so much in the last 12 days. It’s such a joy. It’s an amazing thing.”
COACH K'S FINAL SEASON:
Chapter 1: Ending the era
Chapter 2: Inside the greatest game
Chapter 3: Getting recruited by the legend
Chapter 4: Re Emerson Colle Florida vs. Georgia Rivalry Gear ge Lions shirt deeming USA Basketball
Chapter 5: Coaching against K