clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

K Before K: The Early Duke Days Were Different

Mike Krzyzewski had to work hard early to sell himself

Duke Unviersity vs Georgia Institute of Technology
College Basketball: Duke Danny Ferry (35) with coach Mike Krzyzewski. Ferry was a major break through recruit for Coach K’s Duke program.
Set Number: X36119 TK2 R11 F27

Mike Krzyzewski is wrapping up a spectacular, historic career. He has a shot of finishing with 1,200 wins. Keep in mind he sets a new record with every win and has for years.

But he wasn’t always the iconic Coach K. When he got the Duke job, it was a controversial selection, coming off a losing season at Army and replacing the highly respected Bill Foster, who had taken Duke to the championship game in 1978 and the Elite Eight in 1980.

In the early days, he couldn’t sell Duke Basketball as we know it now. He had to recruit guys by convincing them of what could be, not what was already iconic.

The Sporting News spoke to several former Duke players and got them to talk about their recruitment. Possibly the most interesting here is Jay Bilas, who picked Duke when there was no clear reason to, other than his personal belief in Coach K.

There’s a lot of really cool stories here. You’ll enjoy it.