The home opener for No. 9 Duke on Friday night was a bit more special than usual, as the Blue Devils welcomed in Army West Point, the alma mater of coach Mike Krzyzewski, to help ring in the legend’s final season on the bench at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won the game 82-56 as part of the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase
Army offered a special tribute to Krzyzewski in video form before the game (see below) that reflected on Coach K’s time as a player and coach with the Black Knights. In the video, former Army sports information director Bob Kinney remembered Krzyzewski being the program’s “floor general” during his playing days, which spanned 1966 to 1969.
After serving in the Army for five years following his graduation, Krzyzewski began his coaching career as an assistant for Indiana under Bob Knight, his former coach at Army. After a season with the Hoosiers, he became Army’s coach for the 1975-76 season and led the program to a 73-59 mark over five seasons before taking the Duke job.
“The main thing is I’m pleased that Army came here,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s the Veterans Classic and they were the team we wanted the most to come. Obviously these kids are going to serve … it’s my alma mater, but the people who have gone there have served. So it’s a way of honoring our Armed Forces and visibly have the United States Military Academy here was tremendous. More so than it being my alma mater, on Veterans weekend … it’s so appropriate.”
But once the game started, Krzyzewski quickly pivoted to coaching his team.
“For me, I didn’t get caught up in playing Army,” Krzyzewski said. “I love Army … I love that I went there and everything, but when I coach, I don’t look at who I’m coaching against or the team. I just want to beat the other people and I try not to let anything else in. I’m fairly good at that.”
Wendell Moore had just the third triple-double in the Krzyzewski era with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Blue Devils improved to 2-0 following its season-opening win over Kentucky on Tuesday in the Champions Classic.
Krzyzewski is retiring after this season, which will be his 42nd as Duke’s coach, and handing the program over to his assistant and former Duke star Jon Scheyer. The Blue Devils’ next game is Saturday vs. Campbell in their second game of the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase. As Krzyzewski’s final season continues, we will update this piece with the latest tributes from the farewell tour of a coaching legend.
How to watch Duke vs. Gardner-Webb live
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 16 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Cameron Indoor Stadium — Durham, North Carolina
TV: Regional sports networks | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
West Point flashback
Duke played host to Army West Point on Nov. 12 in its home opener as part of the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase. The Blue Devils won 82-56, but the game carried special significance because Army is where Krzyzewski both played and first served as a head coach. Between his four years as a student at Army and five as the coach, Krzyzewski spent nearly a decade of his young adult life in West Point. Army explored his history with the program in a special tribute video released before the game.
Krzyzewski’s final season began on a big stage, with the Blue Devils beating Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9 in the Champions Classic. The venue is one of Krzyzewski’s favorites, and it offered a parting gift to the legendary coach. Krzyzewski is now 34-11 all-time at Madison Square Garden, and that record will remain unchanged unless the Blue Devils end up playing in the NIT, which would be nothing short of a disaster.