Mike Krzyzewski‘s illustrious tenure in Durham was an instant classic. The basketball gods scripted a near-perfect ending to this era of the rivalry, which will look very different next season with Coach K watching from the stands.
In a game full of haymakers, Tar Heels guard Caleb Love hit a dagger three-pointer with the Tar Heels leading 75-74 in the waning moments. North Carolina would win 81-77 and retire the legendary Coach K with a Final Four “L” in the process.
The five-time national championship winning coach finishes his career 50-50 against his Tobacco Road foe. But the last two losses have to sting. The Tar Heels won his final home game at Coach K Court at Cameron Indoor Stadium and then ended his career with a Final Four win in New Orleans.
42 incredible seasons
— Duke Athletics (@DukeATHLETICS) April 3, 2022
In the end, UNC handed Coach K his first loss in 1980 and his final loss in 2022. Coach K reflected on what this season meant and how his team responded for him.
“I am proud of what my guys have done. They have been an amazing group for me. We had our chances and they made a couple more plays than we did. Our guys played their hearts out.”
Tar Heels Get Last Two Laughs In The Illustrious Tobacco Road Matchup
Ironically, Duke blew the Tar Heels out in Chapel Hill on their first matchup this season. At that time UNC was being hammered consistently by the upper echelon programs around the country. By their second matchup, which was Coach K’s final home game, the Heels were squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Duke, however, was still in play for a No. 1 seed. That day it went UNC’s way as they rolled Duke at home, ruining Coach K’s big day
On Saturday they did it again. Love’s huge three-pointer is the most recent moment of lure for UNC in Final Fours in New Orleans. In 1982, a freshman named Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot as they upset the John Thompson, Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas to capture the national championship.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) April 3, 2022
In 1993, a timeout by Michigan’s Chris Webber when they didn’t have any resulted in a technical foul, a championship game loss and the end of the Wolverines’ Fab Five. It’s safe to say the Heels have fared very well in the Bayou State in Final Fours where they’re now (5-0) heading into Monday night. While all the wins are sweet, none is sweeter than beating your archrival and retiring their Hall of Fame coach in the process.
Coach K Ends His Career With Unreal Accolades
Coach K has done it all and seen it all. In his career the “GOAT” has won 1,202 games, five national championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015). His five titles are second only to the “Wizard of Westwood” (John Wooden) who won 10.
K’s 13 Final Fours are the most all-time, surpassing the aforementioned Wooden who had (12). He also has led the U.S. Olympic Team to three gold medals (2008, 2012, and 2016) to boost an incomparable coaching résumé.
Last summer Coach K told reporters after his announcement to retire at season’s end, that “We’ve done more than we haven’t done. We’ve done some really unbelievable things. We’re not the only ones, but we’re in the room.”
With his coaching career now in the rearview mirror, and having accomplished records that’ll probably never be matched, Coach K will embark on his new job, which will be working for Duke’s school President as a special ambassador. And if you know Coach K, he’ll look to be great at that as well.
“For me,” the iconic basketball leader said.” I’ve always been trying to prove myself.”
Based on his last 42 years he’s done and then some. Job well done, Coach K, enjoy retirement.