It’s not unusual that Duke University won a basketball game on Thursday, March 24 against an excellent and hot Texas Tech team.
However, the way it happened was very unusual.
At a key point late in the game, the players – mostly freshmen playing their first year of college basketball – overruled the storied coach who has five national championships under his belt and who’s been coaching for over four decades.
Duke won the game 78 to 73, but the Blue Devils were trailing much of the second half and it was anyone’s game until the end. At a critical point during a time out in the final minutes of the game, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski called for the players to play zone defense but the players seemed hesitant and, during the huddle, they told him they wanted to play man-to-man defense.
Those in the media were fascinated by the idea of the youngsters changing the decision of one of the greatest coaches of all times and reporters asked several questions about the move in the post-game interview. Coach K said it was unusual but he said one thing that is important in basketball is that the players “own” what they are doing. He said that, if they felt like the defense should be man-to-man, then they would be more likely to play it well.
And play it well they did. With solid defense and some very nifty moves to the basket in the final three minutes of the game, Duke came out ahead and assured itself a place in the Great 8 – the final eight teams in the national college basketball tournament.
One exciting thing for local basketball fans is that it puts Duke one step closer to a potential Final Four matchup against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tarheels basketball team, should UNC win its game as well.