Mike Krzyzewski leaves the stage with five national titles, not the six that Duke fans were hoping for. However, he came close to the title on other occasions. Let’s take a look.
- 1986: Duke was a superb team and if not for a late-season David Henderson shooting slump, the Blue Devils might not have lost to Louisville, 72-69. Later Coach K said that if he had been a little more experienced, he might have helped Duke to do better.
- 1989: Duke was favored against Seton Hall in the Final Four. But Robert Brickey got hurt just 2:34 into the game and freshman Christian Laettner got in foul trouble. Duke might have won with a healthy Brickey and would have given Michigan a good game Monday night too. Just a bad break.
- 1994: the game was tied when Scotty Thurman hit a three to put Arkansas up 73-70 with :50.7 to go. Antonio Lang was within millimeters of the block. With Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley, Duke would have had a great chance.
- 1999: Duke arguably should have beaten UConn because in 1999, that team was overwhelming everyone. But UConn was more prepared and won by three. Duke had a chance to put in overtime but couldn’t get off a shot.
- 2004: Duke fell to UConn in the semifinals after Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph both fouled out. Randolph never really recovered from mono that season, and once Emeka Okafor was free inside, Duke was in trouble and UConn won 79-78. But if Duke had won, they would have faced Georgia Tech in the finals and Duke had beaten the Yellow Jackets two out of three times already.
We’re not saying Duke would have won five more titles. Not at all. What we are saying is that Duke was in position to have won more. It’s just that sometimes, even with the GOAT, things don’t break your way.