Mike Krzyzewski has been at Duke for so long that people forget Duke basketball was here long before he was.
Vic Bubas went to three Final Fours in the 1960s, something that, at the time, seemed prodigious.
Coach K completely surpassed that, going to the Final Four in 1986, ‘88, ‘89, ‘90, ‘91, ‘92, ‘94, ‘99, ‘01, ‘04, ‘10, and ‘15.
That’s all of Duke’s Final Fours - except for perhaps the most interesting and unexpected one.
In 1978, Duke was generally seen as too young to make a serious run at the Final Four. Jim Spanarkel was a junior, Mike Gminski was a sophomore, Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard were freshmen and no one had the slightest idea of what to expect from NCCU transfer John Harrell.
That team had beautiful chemistry though and it began to play beautiful basketball. When the NCAA tournament came along, Duke nearly lost to Rhode Island before slipping by Penn and then crushing Villanova.
The Villanova game was fun because the Penn coach had called Duke a bunch of elephants that were bound to lose to the Wildcats.
And in the Final Four, beating Notre Dame was fun because Irish coach Digger Phelps had continue to recruit Banks after he committed to Duke and had derided the ACC for years.
The season was a joyride until joyless Kentucky beat the Blue Devils in the championship game, 94-88. Afterwards, several Wildcats confessed to being relieved about winning rather than overjoyed.
That’s all a long way to tell you that a new podcast has an episode on that very special team. Check out Run It Back, available on Apple and Spotify. Dennard and Gminski are involved so it should be a lot of fun.