First things first: winning 903 games is an insanely huge accomplishment so hats off to the new record holder, Mike Krzyzewski.Â It's richly deserved.
It's worth pointing out that 398 came in just twelve seasons (Duke's 30+win seasons).
As for this game? Well, it was certainly interesting, and in many resepects a tale of two halves, and perhaps of two halves of the seond half.Â Or maybe three parts.Â You can pick your own separation there.
In the first half, Andre Dawkins did a lot to keep Duke close as the Devils had a hard time handling the punch in the nose that Michigan State always gives you. We're not suggesting they're a dirty team; we have a ton of respect for that program.Â But they are a hardnosed team and in the first half, they won that battle.
Dawkins was superb and had one of his better games at Duke.Â He was 6-10 from three point range and was intelligenty aggressive.
Via Twitter, Nolan Smith hailed his effort as a breakthrough and he could be right.Â Toss in his big shot against Belmont, and Dawkins is off to a solid start.Â Less tangibly, we were also pleased to see his obvious intensity: the guy was into the game.
Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly also had excellent nights, with Curry finishing with 20 points, four assists, four steals and seven boards.
Kelly ended up with 14 points and without missing a shot anywhere and four boards.
On the less impressive side, Mason and Miles Plumlee didn't do as well as they might have against the rugged Spartan frontline.Â Mason finished with seven points, five boards, three blocks and a technical.Â Miles had two points and four boards.Â The Plumlee total? 9/9 and three blocks.
And after a nice move early, the Spartans continued Austin River's collegiate education, frustrating the talented rookie into a 1-7 performance. He also finished with four fouls.
For a lot of talented young players, it's tough to realize that you can't continue to do what you have done to date.Â Rivers is a huge talent, but he has to adapt to the college game, which he hasn't done very well yet.
Though he finished with just one point and four fouls in 18 minutes, Tyler Thornton had a big impact on the game.Â He disrupted Michigan State's offense a lot.Â Â He took a beating for his troubles, but the kid is tough-minded.Â No doubt Izzo loves him too.
Still, near the end, one of the crew said that the game was pretty much in the bag, which was about when Michigan State started to push and Duke let them: turnovers, poor defense and youth almost let Michigan State make a remarkable comeback.Â Fortunately, Duke held on, but the last two minutes were a lot more tense than they should have been.
After the game, the accolades began to roll in. K's mentor, Bob Knight, said this:
âAfter reading about Roger Banister and the four-minute mile, I thought it would be neat to be the first coach to win 900 games. Once I reached that, I was hoping Mike would be the first person to surpass it. I also think it is neat for a coach and his former player to have the opportunity to win this many games while each one was coaching at nearly the same time.
âHe made great contributions to our Army team as a player, and has been a great example as a coach of how to do things the right way. There is no one I respect more for the way he went about coaching and following the rules than Mike. The history of college basketball has had no better coach than Mike Krzyzewski.â
âItâs an incredible night. It speaks to the man that coach is, that so many players and so many managers and people connected to the program â they wanted to share in his special moment. Heâd be the first to deflect a lot of the credit he deserves, but guess what? Heâs the only common denominator in the last 903 wins.â
âI thanked Mike Krzyzewski for what he has done for college basketball. I was in a no-win situation. At the same time, I think what Mike has done was great. ... If I have to lose to someone, it would be him.â
âThe most amazing thing is, to get there, youâve got to be doing it for so long. I donât see coaches 20 years from now lasting as long as we have. We havenât lasted as long as Coach Smith and all those other people did because of the demands off the court and the stresses and the things that you have to go through. Youâre responsible for everything that happens so many times. Mike has done an amazing job. An amazingly consistent job, amazingly consistent at a high, high level. Itâs just off the charts to me. I donât know how many weâve won, but I know itâs nowhere near 900. You just have to sit back and applaud him for what heâs done.â
I have grown up surrounded by powerful role models, both athletes and non-athletes. I have learned so much from all of them: how to lead, how to play, how to achieve success, how to handle success, how to reach out and help those in need. Coach K has been one of those powerful role models for me and countless others who have played for him or met him throughout his storied career. He has lived a life of great success and achievement while remaining loyal to teaching and to Duke.
I speak for Dukies everywhere in congratulating him on his record-breaking achievement and wish him many more years of success.
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