Duke downs Wisconsin 68-63 in NCAA title game for Coach K’s fifth championship
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — It’s John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski.
Coach K won his fifth national championship Monday night with a 68-63 victory over Wisconsin. Only Wooden, who won an incredible 10 at UCLA, is above Krzyzewski on the list of champions.
When the buzzer sounded and No. 5 was official, Krzyzewski turned toward his bench with his hands high above his head. Then came the rush of assistant coaches — all former Duke players — for a group hug that included jumping up and down just like the players he led to a 35-4 record.
He didn’t have to run around the court looking for someone to hug like Jim Valvano did in 1983 when North Carolina State shocked the college basketball world. Players ran toward Krzyzewski and one by one they got hugs, hard hugs, the kind of hugs men give each other after a hard-fought win that meant history.
The party is sure to last far into the night in Durham, North Carolina, where thousands of fans packed inside Cameron Indoor Stadium to watch Duke win the national championship.
In Indianapolis, too, where nobody wearing blue had left their seat. They watched in rapt attention as one by one the Blue Devils climbed up the aluminum stepladder to snip down the nets with a gold-plate pair of scissors, each one waiving their piece of nylon at the crowd.
Krzyzewski, who wrapped assistant coach Jeff Capel in a big bear-hug at center court, was still wearing his 2010 title ring won in the same building. Krzyzewski had it on throughout the tournament as a reminder to his team of its ultimate goal.
Now, he’ll be able to give fans quite the glitzy high five: He has a ring for each finger.
The loss was devastating for a Wisconsin bunch that lost to Kentucky in last year’s Final Four, and then decided to come back together for one last run at it. The Badgers avenged that defeat in the semifinals, but Frank Kaminsky and Co. couldn’t finish the job.
Now, Kaminsky and fellow senior Josh Gasser are moving on. Junior forward Sam Dekker could also have played his final game with some expecting him to be a first-round draft pick.
Several of the Blue Devils will also be faced with decisions in the coming days. Jahlil Okafor is expected to be a lottery pick, and fellow freshmen Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow are projected as first-round picks. Senior guard Quinn Cook will also be moving on.
Those decisions are for the future, though. There’s a lot of celebrating to do first.