Some final thoughts from Indy

Indianapolis—Some final thoughts from Indy on football and basketball as we head home this morning.


**–I was fortunate enough to be in Albuquerque in 1983 to see Lorenzo Charles’ dunk at the buzzer give N.C. State a stunning upset of mighty Houston for the national championship. I was in Philadelphia in 1992 when Christian Laettner’s shot at the buzzer beat Kentucky in overtime and sent Duke to the Final Four. But if Gordon Hayward’s heave, which came just a little past half court, had gone in and given Butler the national championship, it would have instantly become the most famous shot in NCAA Tournament history. Milan’s Bobby Plump, whose shot beat Muncie Central in now famous 1954 Indiana state high school championship, would have given up his position of having hit the most famous shot in  the state’s basketball history. Plump was among the 70,000-plus at Lucas Oil Field. He would have happily given up that title because he also went to Butler.

**–Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has been in eight national championship games. He didn’t hesitate to say that last night’s 61-59 win over Butler win was the best. “It is going to be a landmark game in the history of the NCAA Tournament,” Coach K said. “It was one of the toughest games we’ve ever played against one of the toughest opponents. I still can’t believe we won.”

**–I’ve been to 22 national championship games. It will take me some time to decide if it was the best of those 22, but it is certainly in the top 2 or 3. The N.C. State win over Houston and Phi Slamma Jamma, which included the sight of Jim Valvano running to hug his players, was a very special night. If Hayward’s shot had gone, there would be no debate. It would be a clear No. 1.

**–Butler University will never be the same again. Because of the exposure Butler received around the world in this tournament, there will be a huge spike of applications come next fall. Its current enrollment of about 4,500 is about to grow. “What happens is that the great things that are already at a place like Butler are exposed to a lot of people,” said Krzyzewski, who has seen the same sort of growth and increased prestige in his 30-plus years at Duke. “What is going to happen to Butler will be scary good.” Thousands of people just showed up on the Butler campus yesterday just to see it.

**–Coach K gave us a couple of interesting college football notes leading up to Monday night’s championship game. He told us that he did meet with Florida coach Urban Meyer to discuss Myer’s “burnout” in December that caused him to announce that he would retire only to change his mind about 24 hours later. The two men talked by phone and then met in person when Meyer was at Duke for a physical exam. “The main thing we talked (about) is that he wasn’t the only guy who, you know, that kind of stuff can happen to. I think it happens to a lot of people, whether you’re in sport or business, and you haven’t done anything wrong by feeling that way. “

Krzyzewski sat out most of the 1994-95 season recovering from back surgery and exhaustion. Duke went 13-18 and for a while he wondered if he would return to coaching.

“The main thing I told him (Meyer) was not to make decisions while you’re feeling that way (exhausted); to feel better then make decisions, whatever that means. Getting away, counseling, whatever it means,” Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski did have a humorous view of Meyer’s recent dust up with a reporter at practice.

“You know I didn’t call him to tell him about press relations,” Kryzewski said. “But (the episode) showed me he may have had his vigor back.”


**–Krzyzewski said that a national championship game against a school like Butler could not happen in Division I-A football. “No it can’t because the top hundred football programs have their own thing and then there’s I-AA. It’s a completely different animal. And they don’t have a system that would allow a smaller school to get into their spotlight in the BCS. They know what they’re doing as far as (a) monopoly.”

Ouch. That line should go over well with the boys from the BCS.

“That’s why I think our tournament has captured America, is because everybody can get in it. Everybody can identify. Everyone’s got a chance. And they got a chance right now, whether there is expansion or not, through their conference tournaments.”


**–Krzyzewski is now 63 years old. He has been to 11 Final Fours and with one more he would pass Dean Smith and tie John Wooden for the record of 12. With his fourth national championship (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010) he passes his mentor, Bob Knight (who had three) and ties Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp. With one more national championship he would be all alone in  second place on the all-time list only to John Wooden’s 10.  Coach K has 868 career wins going into next season. He would need only 35 more wins to pass Knight to become Division I basketball’s all-time winner. At this point in his life those things mean more to Krzyzewski than taking $12-15 million from a Russian billionaire to coach the moribund New Jersey Nets. That story popped up yesterday and he said he would have no interest.

Krzyzewski said he is not dwelling on the numbers and what they mean as he nears the final stages of his career.

“I really try not to look at a career. I think I will when it’s over. If coach Knight had never left Indiana, Coach Knight would have over 1,000 wins and probably a couple more NCAA championship. And so you always have to put it in perspective. You know some of the games won and things like that, their seasons were shorter, the tournament was different. You know, you just feel lucky that you’re one of that gang. Let’s put it that way.”

I predict that if Krzyzewski has no health issues, he will coach until he is 70 and will go over 1,000 wins.

All-time Division I wins

1—Bob Knight…………..902

2—Dean Smith………….879

3—Adolph Rupp………..876

4—Mike Krzyzewski…….868

5—Jim Phelan…………….830


Thanks for letting me indulge in some basketball. I’ll be home later today and we’ll get back on our spring football tour on Wednesday.

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68 comments Add your comment

Typical AJC Blogger

April 6th, 2010
9:13 am


April 6th, 2010
9:24 am

The officials were horrendous last nite..Can’t rank as an all time great game with Ted Valentine blowing a whistle..61-59 with a shot clock is hardly a “classic”.


April 6th, 2010
9:26 am

God, can we get some football talk please!!! Please, no boring ACC or Tech…no Big 10, 11 or 16 either.

Talk about what matters…THE SEC!!!!

Reid Adair

April 6th, 2010
9:31 am

Tony, I agree that last night was one of the all-time great championship games in tournament history. The only bad part is listening to the Duke “fans” who are claiming that Duke dominated the entire game and that the Blue Devils proved Butler didn’t belong. Those folks must have been watching a different game.


April 6th, 2010
9:46 am

Good column Tony, one of your better.

And to you football people; the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is the greatest sporting event in this country. Compared to this tournament football is insignificant.


April 6th, 2010
9:47 am

What a great game last night- I loved it.


April 6th, 2010
9:51 am

Great game last night. I wish Butler could have pulled it out. Oh well. Don’t fret, Butler. We will pay Duke back for you on September 18.


April 6th, 2010
9:54 am

Great game last night……but it’s still basketball.

I’ll bet that was the largest crowd to ever watch that many white guys play basketball.

On the Big 10 ( 11 )…..they do need to add another team to fix their name problem….uh-oh, Big 12 is already taken. Maybe they can add 3 teams and become the Big 14….or maybe add 9 teams and become the Big 10+10.

I’ve got it…..just change their name to The Rust Belt Athletic Conference…..RuBAC for short.

Oh well….I don’t think anyone really cares.


April 6th, 2010
10:06 am

To bad Butler did not win but they won the nation over as a underdog and playing like champions. Tony Julio Jones is finally healthy and a great day in practice last friday and the QB’s threw the
ball around instead of handing off to Ingram or Richardson!! RTR


April 6th, 2010
10:08 am

Sounds like a good game but I didn’t watch it.

Coach K your game has not captured America on a yearly basis the vewier ratings verify it.


April 6th, 2010
10:39 am

Butler stayed in the game because the officals allowed them to play physical. They were pushing off and hacking all night. On the last play, Kyle Singler was pancake blocked by their big man. It was not a pick, it was a pancake. No call, just like the rest of the game. Kudos to Duke for perservering.


April 6th, 2010
10:46 am

One thing is for sure GT with Paul Hewitt will never win paul hewitt.


April 6th, 2010
10:49 am

Dawg19, I thought it was the other way around. Officals gave Duke all the breaks holding, moving screens and blocking. No matter still a great game and effort by both teams.


April 6th, 2010
11:06 am

last night totally shows why we need a football playoff……..


April 6th, 2010
11:39 am

It appeared to me that Butler got screwed by the refs. I have never seen so many collisions near the rim that were not called…and 90% on Butler’s end of the floor.


GT Dad

April 6th, 2010
11:49 am

Wow! What a great game! Both teams played extremely well and hard. I was conflicted as I am an ACC fan but also loved the Butler story. Both squads played with passion and demonstrated great teamwork – along with great coaching. Wish more teams (including my GT Yellowjackets) could learn how to bottle that.

Lack of calls went both ways

April 6th, 2010
11:51 am

Dawg19 — you must be a Duke fan (I am not) because I saw it differently. Both teams were physical and the refs let them play, to the point it seemed like more of a football game than a basketball game. There were hacks all over the place that didn’t get called. At least they (the refs) were consistent.


April 6th, 2010
11:51 am

With all due respect to Coach K, it’s much more plausible for a small school to compete, talent wise, through a five round tournament when you only have to worry about a 5 on 5 rather than a 22 on 22.


April 6th, 2010
12:01 pm

I’m with those that don’t quite see this as some all time great game. Close game yes but an all timer?? Low percentage shooting, lack of scoring, and no “big shot” = game forgotten in 3 months.


April 6th, 2010
12:09 pm

When they expand the Tournament to 96 teams, the regular season will be rendered virtually meaningless. Thats not worth it for a 3 week long contest in March/April. I pray they never do that to college football and take those magical Saturdays in the Fall away.


April 6th, 2010
12:10 pm

First half officiating was poor but then the 2 guys other than TV Teddy forgot Duke was playing and things evened out. K stayed in Eades’ ear the whole game and Eades acted like K was his uncle. Valentine called it straight IMO.


April 6th, 2010
12:15 pm

Wow, what a great game! I’ve been a Duke fan since ‘86 and I feel like this was the least physically talented team that’s won a championship, but I think that they played together better than previous teams. Great coaching and great team play is what won it for Duke, not the refs. Butler played a heckuva game, they just missed too many shots close to the basket. I got somewhat caught up in the underdog story and wouldn’t have been devastated if Butler had won. Duke’s defense and rebounding were too much the last 10 mins of the game. I think the refs let ‘em play and eventually Duke won out.

There were obvious missed calls on both ends of the floor.
- Heyward shoved N.Smith out of bounds on a rebound and no call.
- Zoubek hooked Howard and flung him to the ground, no call
- Howard and Zoubek were banging around all night in the paint

Both teams got away with stuff; very physical game, that’s why the score was so low. Great effort by Butler, congrats to Duke.


April 6th, 2010
12:17 pm

I thought Duke did what they did all year, just enough to win. The Big East officials were consistent with big east style of play. Lots of contact inside and a free for all on rebounds. Both teams played like old school teams. Lots of set offense, great defense and 100% effort. Hope Ky and kansas took notes as to how a team plays instead of a collective group of athletes masquerading as a team.

One more thing. Didn’t the Boise State – Oklahoma bowl game seem kind of like David – Goliath?

The Ghost of Vincent Lombardi

April 6th, 2010
12:24 pm

Hey Coach, I respectfully disagree that your tourney has “captured America”. This country belongs to the NFL, then to Division I Football (not the other politically correct title), and within Division I to the SEC in particular.

John Q. Public

April 6th, 2010
12:27 pm

I’m just waiting for football. Basketball lost me when they decided to buy into the “hip hop, gansta rap” market.

The NBA is just a league of thugs on the court, and thug-wanna-be’s in the stands. Go to any game, look around the crowd and prove me wrong.

At least I can still take the family to a football game.

BIG Nick

April 6th, 2010
12:40 pm


So nice to see two universities who don’t start an “all retard, fourth grade educated thug basketball team!”


April 6th, 2010
12:45 pm

Coach K pretty much nailed it. This is why people love College Basketball’s postseason so much. The little guys can show how good they really are and big guys have to earn their championship. If College Basketball was like College Football then we would have just had Kansas play Kentucky for the championship. Two teams that couldnt make the Final Four. Butler would never even be considered, regardless of how good they are.


April 6th, 2010
12:45 pm

I never comment on here, but you are wrong. On the last play the pick set by Matt Howard was perfect and legal. I love basketball and love to see smart plays. Instead of running down the court like everyone else and not making a difference, he stopped, and set a screen that freed up the last shot and almost won the game.


April 6th, 2010
12:47 pm

Coach K and Meyer in the same building? Must have been an airplane hangar, to fit those 2 egos in one room.


April 6th, 2010
12:51 pm

Nice article Tony.

I enjoyed the game and thought it was very exciting. I can imagine how much better it would have been to be there.

Coach K is a remarkable coach and I enjoy his show on Sirius, Basketball and Beyond. He doesn’t talk about just basketball but life in general. He is avid on preparing young men to be better men, not just on the court but personally and professionally.

There is no disputing his incredible record, whether you like him or not.

Geaux Tigers


April 6th, 2010
1:08 pm

Coach K could have given Meyer another tip or two….like how to not be a jerk. Coach K is admired and respected by almost All basketball fans. Outside of the Univ. of Florida, Meyer is pretty much thought of as a jerk.


April 6th, 2010
1:10 pm

I had no idea Bobby Plump went to Butler. No idea.

Tim Donaghy

April 6th, 2010
1:14 pm

We definitely called the game for Butler thanks to the brown bags we received prior to the start. Grabbing shirts, holding, hacking, slapping, tackling (great tackle by the Butler guard on Zoubek late in the game, grabbed his left leg out from under him causing him to fall backward and kick the ball out all in one motion) were the least of our worries – we were more concerned about catching Duke hand checking or getting to close to a Butler player. We love that “over the back” Hayward, “let me hold on to your jersey as you move” Veasley & Nored & Mack & well any of their other kids that played guard or forward. While three or four Butler kids should have probably fouled out we somehow forgot our glasses and the fact that we were wearing a whistle that. Had to keep the game interesting because without giving Butler a buy on fouls the game would have been a massacre. Whenever you want us to work on your behalf send filled brown bags.

Tide Rising

April 6th, 2010
1:29 pm

My buddy filled out 2 brackets in his pool of 188 people. When Duke won he won both 1st and 2nd place and a cool $1700. The guy who ran the pool calculated the odds of one guy filling out 2 brackets and finishing 1st and 2nd at 1 in 17,391. Pretty cool.


April 6th, 2010
1:35 pm

When are we going to hear about the Southern Cal/NCAA?


New Game Ahead?

April 6th, 2010
1:42 pm

In looking at these two teams, and particularly Duke, do you think this may change the way coaches start recruiting? These team won by having complete teams, with junior and seniors, as opposed to a few superstar one-and-done players. I don’t know if coaches would ever turn down a Favors type recruit, but instead of going after 5 of those caliber of players, they may put more emphasis on the very good, but likely to stay 3 to 4 years type of players? GA Tech may be better when they have 5 Brian Oliver type of players instead of Lawal and Favors. Not that we don’t appreciate what the superstars have done, or that we can blame them for turning pro, but a coach’s life may be a little more predictable, and a little less stressful, if they recruit 4 4-year players and one superstar. Thoughts?


April 6th, 2010
1:45 pm

Hey Timmy D…you forgot to mention that the Butler Guard was ABLE to tackle Zoubek because he’d already discarded Howard like a used dishrag earlier in the play….

It was a rough/physical game all the way ’round……I have to admit I was scared this would be a “Zebra Show’ when Teddy V was announced…’s pretty sad when an entire conference’s fan base knows to groan when a certain ref is at your game.

Still….great game…love to see them come down to the last seconds!


April 6th, 2010
2:00 pm

Sorry coach K ,but you’re wrong. A segment of the nation may watch your little tourney for 3 weekends in March just to see an underdog win, but a much larger of the nation watches CFB for 14 weekends plus bowl games.

Get over yourself.


April 6th, 2010
2:03 pm

Tim Donaghy: I tried to come up with something more diplomatic but you, sir, are as full of crap as a Christmas goose. Try taking those royal blue tinted glasses off the next time you watch a basketball game.

It was a rough, tough old school game that emphasized defense, well-played by both teams. The refereeing was consistent and they “let them play”. I don’t like Duke and never will but to this observer, the calls fell equally on both sides of the court.

John Q Public: What the heck does the NBA have to do with college basketball? I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding said professional league, but to equate it with college basketball is ludicrous.


April 6th, 2010
2:07 pm

Worm, you ever heard of defense?


April 6th, 2010
2:07 pm

Coach K would never make a total azzhat of himself like Meyer did with that reporter. He has class and is a professional. He just tries to win games instead of getting wrapped up in all the petty crap that comes with being the head coach of a high profile college sports program. No wonder Meyer talked to him. He can learn a lot from Coach K.


April 6th, 2010
2:11 pm

Coach K is simply a Class Act


April 6th, 2010
2:25 pm

Another round ball College National Championship victory comes back to the State of NC. Man, that state does have some trophies. They know string music in Carolina.


April 6th, 2010
3:19 pm

Yes I am a Durham native and longtime Duke fan. Many hope Duke losses each game. I think folks should consider Coach K and his program. 30 years and never once the slightest hint of an NCAA violation. Compare that to coaches like Callapari. Also I am unaware of any player arrests or disciplinary issues. Compare that to coaches like Richt and Bowden. I know for the moment it is fun to hope the underdog pulls the upset, but I wish fans would think for a minute about the integrity of Dukes basketball program – truly amazing today.


April 6th, 2010
3:45 pm

Awesome game between two schools that showed what good basketball teams look like- a mix of white and black players who graduate college. too bad the SEC schools just dont get it.


April 6th, 2010
3:49 pm

I love how some people think that the wild success of the NCAA basketball tournament is somehow a threat or affront to college football’s popularity. The two have nothing to do with each other. But if you believe that a football playoff will ruin the regular season, I ask you: How will teams qualify for the playoff?

socal dawg

April 6th, 2010
3:51 pm

bad calls are part of the game but I definitely think Duke got more positive ones than Butler- they also seem to always have an easier bracket to start off on. Duke does play good team ball, great defense, but they are just hard to like. Their student base are flat out obnoxious-


April 6th, 2010
4:07 pm

duke has class and the fans who hate them do not!

never a hint of any violations at any time,but student/athletes who totally embrase the meaning of this term.
coach K is the greatest coach in any sport, and no i am not a duke fan!

one shining moment........not so much

April 6th, 2010
4:12 pm

One of the best championship games I can remember watching. Duke is a great program and Coach K is all class, but like most of those watching, I was rooting for Butler to pull the upset. Just when I thought nothing could spoil the perfect evening of a well-played game between two great teams, all watching post-game had to endure a painful and horrible new rendition of “One Shining Moment”. Normally a fitting and emotional tribute to recap the tournament, this year’s was a real disappointment.

help, I live in Ga

April 6th, 2010
4:32 pm

Great column Tony. I’m one of those “new” Butler Bulldog fans now. I love the way the guy coaches. His players are super smart and poised on the floor. If you think about national championships and IQ, this one was probably the best in a very long time. You’d probably have to go back 50 years to have that many smart kids playing in the championship. I’m not gonna look it up, but I’m sure the Ivy League would’ve been involved. March madness just won me back after about an 8 or 9 year absence. Go Bulldogs!!!!—–Butler that is…