Mike Krzyzewski became the first coach in Division I men’s basketball history to record 1,000 career victories with a 77-68 win over St. John’s Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
The Blue Devils trailed at the half 43-39 and trailed by as much as 10 in the second half before Quinn Cook buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Duke its first lead in nearly 20 minutes.
Cook provided 11 points in the second half, but it was Jahlil Okafor who was most instrumental to the Blue Devils’ second half comeback.
With less than seven minutes left in the game and Duke still down four, the Blue Devils corralled three offensive rebounds off a missed Okafor free throw. Okafor grabbed the last rebound himself and drew a foul as he laid the ball in the basket. The 3-point play, Duke’s third in as many possessions, drew the Blue Devils within one and led to Cook’s go-ahead shot.
“He has the biggest upside in college basketball,” Krzyzewski said of Okafor. “He’s a remarkable player and he needs the attention of the entire team really to neutralize him. He’ll be a franchise player and a franchise person for whoever is lucky enough to get him.”
Sunday marked just the second time the Blue Devils trailed at halftime. The other occurrence came two weeks ago when they trailed by four at NC State in what would end up being their first loss of the season.
The story of course is not how the Blue Devils won, but just that they won. After the final horn, Krzyzewski had plenty of time to reflect on his milestone and the place where he achieved it.
“To win the 1,000th here, you need to be a lucky guy,” Krzyzewski said. “I like my place, Cameron, but this is a magical place. I’m the lucky guy who’s been at two great institutions in West Point and Duke.
I’ve had unbelievable support. I’ve never had a day in 40 years that I had to worry about my back, with my A.D., Superintendent, or President and not many people can say that.”
Krzyzewski has been one of the longest tenured coaches in Division I men’s basketball and as much as he and the fans would like him to stay forever, that sort of wishful thinking usually doesn’t work out.
“There’s an end in sight,” Krzyzewski said of his legacy. “I’m going to be 68 next month. It’ll end sooner rather than later. But hopefully not too soon.”
Enjoy him while you can. Enjoy every single minute.
Coach K enters the press conference. His first as #Coach1K #Duke pic.twitter.com/4UeVFeHonD
— Vinny Simone (@VTSimone) January 25, 2015
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.