2022 ACC Tournament: Updates, support, TV schedule, betting odds as Duke seeks title for Coach K
DURHAM, NC — With 13 seconds left in the game, Mike Krzyzewski looked across the field. The action was at the other end, where Armando Bacot fired free throws. But during a long pause, Krzyzewski did not even look in that direction. He just stared into space, his face showing no emotion. Finally brought out of his daze, he sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. Behind him, an army of his former players, worth three rows, shared the same blank expression while a crowd, so frenzied that it threatened to burst hours before the denunciation, sat somewhere between the shock and anguish. “Oh my god, oh my god,” one student said, an almost maniacal laugh punctuating the two gasps of astonishment.
For months, Duke raced to put together the perfect last hurray. A banner – “There are only 1K. Thank you” – was hung on the front facade of the Cameron Indoor Stadium and another in the Science Drive parking lot. A harassed ticket office responded to requests from the famous – Adam Silver, Jerry Seinfeld and Dirk Nowitzki among them.Sets were erected for ESPN and the ACC Network’s “College GameDay,” and then came the hardest part, setting up the schedule and sandwiching a basketball game. Krzyzewski’s daughter/Duke assistant athletic director Debbie Savarino talked a lot about it, trying to somehow strike the delicate balance of a nice send-off without heightening the emotion so much that Krzyzewski couldn’t do his job.
Eliminating the emotion would be impossible, but no one wanted it to overflow to the point of affecting the outcome. They wanted Krzyzewski to be surprised by nothing, while remaining amazed. Nothing was random. The school decided to line up all of Krzyzewski’s present players to welcome him onto the pitch last time out, a tunnel that included the likes of Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, JJ Redick, Elton Brand, Jay Williams, Kyle Singler, Shane Battier and Carlos Bozer. But administrators also understood that the timing – 15 minutes before tipping – would hamper North Carolina, a bubble team badly in need of a win. Phone calls were made, an agreement was reached.
They had planned it down to the smallest detail – except, of course, for the one thing they couldn’t control. On Thursday, Krzyzewski compared his life’s work to reality TV – real reality TV, he called it, speaking of the “spontaneity of emotion, of performance”. That’s exactly what he meant, that neat scripts are often not followed. North Carolina, a 20-point loser to the Blue Devils just a month ago and desperate to salvage an NCAA tournament bid, left Durham as the worst kind of party-breakers, stealing the perfectly orchestrated tribute. from Duke to Krzyzewski with a 94-81 victory that left an arena, frantic a good hour before the denunciation, shocked into silence. The Tar Heels celebrated boldly in front of the stunned student body, with one Duke undergrad moaning, “I didn’t camp out in the cold for five weeks for this.”