Cameron bids farewell after a year of deliberation

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's Senior Coach, has been preparing seniors to manage the emotions of taking the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the last time in over four decades.

Cameron bids farewell after a year of deliberation

The retiring Hall of Famer will have to do it for someone else this week: himself.

Krzyzewski stated Thursday that he had a little thought yesterday. This was two days before the Blue Devils' fourth-ranked opponent North Carolina, which will close out the regular season. It's unbelievable, how did it happen? It's crazy! ... You'll need to spend some time and have a meeting.

"Maybe some tough talks about keeping your eyes on the road so that you can see what I mean."

The 75-year old, known as Coach K, has spent much of the past year trying to deflect questions about his impending retirement and to not be a distraction or create additional pressure on his fourth-ranked Blue Devils. This strategy worked with a roster that included players with NBA futures, securing the program’s first Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title since 2006.

There are no more deflections or chances to push questions further away. Krzyzewski is down to just one home game, fittingly against the Tar Heels. He has only 10 games remaining in his impressive career.

Krzyzewski stated that he told his staff on Thursday morning, "Who would've thought?" It's my Senior Day."

Krzyzewski stated, "I think that I'm just going overall - I am talking to myself right at the moment - let it happen." Let's see what happens. It's not my job to make it negative for my players. After all, it is their game. ... I have to make sure they win the game.

Krzyzewski has a college-coaching record of 1,196 wins to go along with five NCAA championships. The 82-year old campus arena was the catalyst for much of Krzyzewski's success. It has a 9,314 capacity and rows of students crowded into bleachers along the length of court to create an intimidating, ear-ringing homecourt advantage.

Krzyzewski's total record in home games is 572-75 (.884).

The Cameron farewell ceremony will be a moving spectacle. It adds another dimension to an annual rivalry that commands the spotlight and features neighbouring teams with 11 NCAA championships.

StubHub's cheapest ticket was $3,250. Prices for seats have risen to $10,000, including those with asking prices of $50,000 or, more likely, $99,988. The school expects 80 former Duke players to attend. This is just one example of his impact on the sport well beyond his retirement.

Steve Wojciechowski will join that group.

Former Blue Devils point guard and defensive-minded point guard, "Wojo", became an assistant to Krzyzewski before he was named Marquette's head coaching until last year. Cameron's most memorable moment was on Duke's Senior Day 1998 victory over a North Carolina team that included future NBA players Antawn and Vince Carter.

Wojciechowski, at the horn, turned and ran straight towards Krzyzewski. He was grateful for the firm hug and the chance to share the moment with him amid the rare sighting of "Cameron Crazies", who stormed the court to celebrate.

Wojciechowski stated, "It's surreal." How many things in your life are consistent over a forty-year period? Where you know that when you go to a place and turn on the TV, there is a constant you can rely on? What is the most important thing in your life? Very few. There are very few. Coach K and Duke are two of them.

However, not all memories are equally sweet.

Bobby Hurley, Arizona State's point guard, was on Krzyzewski’s first two NCAA championship teams. He still recalls Krzyzewski training the team after a long bus ride back from Virginia in January 1991.

Hurley stated that Coach told him to tape us and they were going to practice. "And we practiced for two more hours. So that was probably a not so good behind-the scenes memory at Cameron Indoor."

Wendell Moore Jr. is a current player and has heard similar stories from his predecessors. He joked that Krzyzewski had "definitely chilled out" with them.

Moore stated that Krzyzewski was "a bit sentimental" this week with the team.

Moore stated that Moore knew it was coming to an abrupt end. Moore said that he wanted to treasure every moment of it. ... We know exactly where he is coming from. He is a man like that. He doesn't think it will end for him. He knows it's coming so we do everything we can to be there for him.

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.