Mike Krzyzewski applauds Hubert Davis for leading UNC to Final Four amidst 'immense scrutiny'
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski took some time to recognize UNC first-year head coach Hubert Davis on Friday, just a day before the two will face off in a colossal Final Four clash.
North Carolina’s surprise run to the Final Four comes after months of up-and-down results. The Tar Heels didn’t pick up a Quad 1 win until Feb. 19. Three days before that, UNC lost at home to a woeful Pitt team.
North Carolina wasn’t even a lock to make NCAA Tournament until it beat Duke in Durham back on March 5. Early-season losses to other top programs like Purdue, Tennessee and Kentucky stifled momentum before conference play.
Krzyzewski credits Davis for the turnaround that has resulted in UNC reaching this stage.
“Hubert’s been terrific,” Krzyzewski said. “I mean, one, there’s a lot of pressure taking over a program the level of North Carolina’s, with the tradition of excellence that they’ve had. And for him to do it, he’s under immense scrutiny. And they got knocked back a number of times. I just thought he always had poise and he has great humility.”
Davis the first coach since North Carolina’s Bill Guthridge (1998) to go to the Final Four in his first season. Guthridge took over a loaded UNC squad from Dean Smith. While this North Carolina roster has talent, no one expected Davis to make the Final Four in Year 1.
On Friday, Davis was named the recipient of the John McClendon national coach of the year award. UNC is 29-8 this season entering Saturday night’s matchup with Duke.
“He and I did a thing together here yesterday, and I mentioned that he’s run his own race,” Krzyzewski said, speaking again of Davis. “He hasn’t tried to be Dean Smith or Roy or anybody else. He’s been himself in that culture. But he knows that culture. He’s worked in it and he’s played in it. And now he’s adapting who he is into that culture.”
North Carolina and Duke will meet in the Final Four on Saturday night. Tipoff will be shortly after the conclusion of Villanova-Kansas.