How one opposing player remembers Mike Krzyzewski’s 1st game at Duke
The first play of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching tenure at Duke wasn’t a dunk or layup — and it certainly wasn’t a 3-pointer.
It was a steal by Stetson point guard Brad Weston.
Duke won the opening tip and got the ball to then-junior forward Vince Taylor. Weston was a bit undersized to be guarding the 6-foot-5 future All-ACC player, but he cut off Taylor’s drive to the rim and stole the ball before Taylor could find a teammate.
Weston brought the ball up the court and passed it to Jim Ramsey, who threw a crafty overhead pass to a cutting teammate on his way to the rim.
Stetson 2, Duke 0.
That was the beginning of the Coach K era in Durham — an era that could come to an end as soon as Thursday night in San Francisco.
Weston remembers fondly — albeit with plenty of competitive regret — what it was like to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium and guard a future All-ACC player in Vince Taylor.
“It’s been so long, it’s hard to remember some of it,” Wetson told Saturday Road in a phone interview this week. “But I certainly remember the crowd and the noise and the arena. It seemed like they were right on top of you.”
Weston noted that his Hatters played the Blue Devils tough for awhile, but Duke’s elite talent eventually bore out. Duke won 67-49.
“I was sad that we got beat, I wish it would have been someone else [to give Krzyzewski his first win at Duke],” Weston said with a laugh.
While Duke wasn’t always what they are today, playing at Duke still meant something in 1980. Weston said he had family travel from Ohio to watch him play and take in the pageantry of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Still, Weston didn’t realize his team’s significance in Krzyzewski’s story until a couple years ago. Another former teammate, Rick Roach, called it to his attention.
You could forgive him for not knowing — it took Krzyzewski several years to get Duke to the level that it now enjoys on a near-annual basis.
The Blue Devils didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in any of Krzyzewsk’s first three years in Durham. Weston’s Hatters even beat Duke the next season on Feb. 10, 1982. That remains Stetson’s only win over the Blue Devils in school history.
By the 1985-86 season, Krzyzewski had Duke rolling. The Blue Devils lost to Louisville in the national final, but — in hindsight — that was start of Krzyzewski’s unparalleled run of dominance.
In the decades that followed, Krzyzewski became the face of college basketball. No one has won more games, conference titles or National Championships since he arrived in Durham in 1980.
Krzyzewski will make his 26th Sweet 16 appearance on Thursday night against Texas Tech. As impressive as that sounds, it’s hardly a footnote when compared to some of Krzyzewski’s other NCAA Tournament records.
It’s the kind of career that you have to respect — rather, want to respect — even if he beat you along the way.
“If you’re going to hang your hat on a loss, that’s a pretty good one,” Weston said.