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Barry Jacobs On How K Opens

Barry Jacobs looks at how Coach K starts a season.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

So here's Mike Krzyzewski formula for successful season openers, developed over more than three decades at Duke:

* Don't visit an opponent's home court. One could argue that's been Krzyzewski's approach to his entire nonconference schedule. It's certainly been true for openers since the mid-80s when, for three straight years, the Blue Devils started the season at St. Louis; against Lamar in Houston, less than 80 miles from its campus in Beaumont, Texas; and then against BYU-Hawaii, an NAIA school 100 miles distant from the site of the Maui Invitational.

* Find repeat customers. Of 30 opponents in openers under Krzyzewski, four appeared twice - Army, East Carolina, Princeton, and Vanderbilt.

* Seek out like-minded universities. In 34 season starts, counting Friday's game against Davidson, nine opponents (26.5 percent) were either from the Ivy League or are private institutions likewise known for academic excellence.

* Make the challenge stimulating, but not too difficult. Over the last 11 seasons, the Devils have won their openers by an average margin of 31.6 points. The sole result in single digits was a close victory over a strong Belmont team in November 2011. The Bruins, coached by Rick Byrd, have been to the last four NCAA tournaments and play at Chapel Hill on Nov. 17.

* Avoid early tournament participation. After debuting six times in 22 years in exempt tournaments, Duke hasn't been back since the Maui Invitational in 2001-02.

* Don't lose. Krzyzewski's teams are 31-2 in openers. The only defeats came in his second season -- a one-point loss to Vanderbilt in double overtime at Cameron -- and in the fall of 1999 against Stanford at Madison Square Garden. The November 1981 loss to Vandy was part of a 1-4 start in a 17-defeat season. The '00 stumble against the Cardinal was followed by a second loss to UConn, which had upset Duke in the 1999 NCAA finals.

Duke Openers Under Mike Krzyzewski

Season Opponent Site Margin
2013-14 Davidson H
2012-13 Georgia State H 19
2011-12 Belmont H 1
2010-11 Princeton H 37
2009-10 UNC Greensboro H 34
2008-09 Presbyterian H 31
2007-08 NC Central H 65
2006-07 Columbia H 43
2005-06 Boston U. H 17
2004-05 Tenn.-Martin H 42
2003-04 Detroit H 11
2002-03 Army H 48
2001-02 Seton Hall Maui 1
2000-01 Princeton H 37
1999-00 Stanford C v. C -1
1998-99 Fairfield H 32
1997-98 Army H 33
1996-97 St. Joseph’s H 39
1995-96 Old Dominion Grt Al 20
1994-95 Brown H 42
1993-94 Northeastern H 14
1992-93 Canisius H 48
1991-92 East Carolina H 28
1990-91 Marquette H 13
1989-90 Harvard H 76
1988-89 Kentucky Tip 25
1987-88 Appalachian State H 36
1986-87 BYU-Hawaii Haw 17
1985-86 Lamar NIT 4
1984-85 St. Louis A 33
1982-84 Vanderbilt H 4
1982-83 East Carolina H 5
1981-82 Vanderbilt H -1
1980-81 Stetson H 18

  • Maui – Maui Invitational, Lahaina, Hawaii
  • C v C – Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, N.Y.
  • Grt Al – Great Alaska Shootout, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Tip – Tipoff Classic, Springfield, Mass.
  • Haw – Hawaii Thanksgiving Classic
  • NIT – Big Apple NIT, Houston, Texas

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