Duke fans got used to winning and winning big under Mike Krzyzewski but it wasn’t always like that.
Duke took a major dip in the post-Bubas years and the brief Bucky Waters era ended with frustration on all parts.
Neil McGeachy was an interim coach for a year, and at some point Duke AD Carl James bizarrely tried to hire former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp.
Things were not good and Duke had become the team every ACC team looked forward to for an easy win.
But James did get one thing right: he hired Bill Foster.
Foster only stayed from 1974-1980 and he had some difficult times, but he made Duke Basketball relevant again.
In 1974-75, he had inherited some talent in Willie Hodge and Tate Armstrong, but the rest of the returnees were average.
He had also brought in Jim Spanarkel and George Moses.
Moses was Duke’s only JUCO transfer ever and he was a rebounding specialist. And Spanarkel was a steal.
A 6-5 guard, Spanarkel played hard and fearlessly. He became a key part of Foster’s rebuild.
In 1975, Maryland was a tremendous national power. Lefty Driesell had Durham’s own John Lucas, Brad Davis, Mo Howard, Steve Sheppard and Larry Gibson. Brian Magid was a spectacular shooter who arrived before the three point shot.
But Duke was ready and though it wasn’t easy, the Blue Devils sealed an upset when little-used Terry Chili went to the line with seconds left and nailed his free throws.
Crazies swarmed the court and some climbed on top of the rim: beautiful ‘70s anarchy.
Duke would find its way back to the top of the sport in 1978 and other than two years in the early K era, 1995 and Covid, it has stayed there ever since.