Krzyzewski Masterful In Capturing His Fifth Title


Duke Wins Fifth NCAA Basketball Championship

Duke fabulous freshmen took center stage in the 2015 NCAA title game, scoring 60 points to lead the Blue Devils victory over Wisconsin and bring Coach Mike Krzyzewski his fifth national championship. While both Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow spent time in both halves on the bench due to foul trouble, guards Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen stepped up to score 39 points between them, posting 29 of Duke’s 37 second half points in the 68-63 victory.

With Okafor and Winslow limited, and Duke facing a nine-point deficit after Badger star Frank Kaminsky hit a basket with 13:26 left, Allen, who only scored in double figures


Frosh Jones and Allen Carry The Load

four times during the season, took over. Allen hit a three-pointer thirty six seconds later, and followed that with an old-fashioned three point play, hitting a driving layup and converting the free throw on Duke’s next possession.

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes tried to halt the comeback when he hit a three pointer, but Allen was fouled on Duke’s next offensive possession and converted both free throws. The 6-4 guard from Jacksonville, Florida, stepped up big time, scoring eight points in under two minutes to help put his teammates back in the game. Only playing as many as 20 minutes in two games this season. Allen logged 21 minutes and shifted the game’s momentum to the Blue Devils.

The first half of the game gave little indication of the outstanding play that would follow in the second half. Both teams appeared tight and were not fundamentally sound in shooting and rebound positioning. The contest took on the appearance of a


First Half Featured Thirteen Lead Changes

heavyweight battle, with thirteen lead changes in the half which ended up tied 31-31. In fact, play in the opening stanza offered little resemblance to the game played between the two teams earlier this season.

In a Big Ten-ACC Challenge game in Madison, Wisconsin on December 3, 2014, Duke won a well-played fray 80-70. The Blue Devils shot a sizzling 65% that night, converting seven of 12 three-point attempts.

Many fans and prognosticators predicted it would take a similar shooting effort by Duke to have any chance in the rematch with the efficient Badgers, who upset previously undefeated Kentucky in a semifinal game to get to the title match. Master strategist Krzyzewski had other ideas, he would make halftime adjustments, work around the foul trouble with Okafor and Winslow, and ride his eight scholarship players to victory. As he said after the game, “eight is enough”.

Winslow was a force on defense early, blocking four shots, but he picked up his second foul with 7:16 left in the half. The over aggressive defensive effort seemed to backfire on the Blue Devils as missed shots were rebounded, and the Badgers scored 11 second chance points. Okafor missed two close in shots, and then picked up his second foul with three minutes left to intermission. Krzyzewski sat both Okafor and Winslow, got minutes out of interior players Marshall Plumleee and Amile Jefferson, and made his plan for second half adjustments.

Coach Bo Ryan’s Badgers seemed somewhat jittery, hitting put backs, but making only


Efficient Badgers Tentative At Times

two of six free throws during the first half. Forward Sam Dekker, who had been playing well throughout the tournament, seemed out of sync, shooting zero for six from three-point range, and scoring only 12 points in the game.

Kaminsky, Dekker, and Hayes scored 23 of the Badgers 31 first half points, but it allowed Duke to concentrate on the trio and their jumpshots. The Badgers seemed to forget to drive the lane in key moments throughout the game, yet complained afterwards about the disparity of free throw attempts of the two teams (Duke scored only 12 of their 37 points from the line in the second half).

Coach K showed why he is regarded as one of the best coaches to ever pace a sideline. His halftime adjustments were masterful. Of course, there was no way he could expect to get the production out of Allen that he received, but he tipped off folks to his mindset when communicating with an announcer on national TV as teams went to the locker-room.

He stressed that Wisconsin had only been whistled for two first half fouls, that his squad had to do a better job in getting to the free throw line, and defensively they had to stop


Krzyzewski Makes Proper Adjustments

second chance points. Well, Duke was shooting two free throws in the last minutes after Wisconsin committed thirteen second-half fouls. He got Jefferson and Plumlee to plug up the middle of the lane defensively, used the steadiness of senior leader Quinn Cook, and had help defense keep Kaminsky from getting too comfortable down low.

Jones and Allen scored 24 of Duke’s first 28 points of the second half, and garnered 29 of the 37 points scored after break time, most coming on three pointers and aggressive drives to the basket. Jefferson, Plumlee, and Matt Jones contributed, and allowed Krzyzewski to save Okafor for crunch time in the final minutes. Okafor contributed two key layups between the three and two minute mark, but was held to 10 points, his third sub-par scoring effort in Duke’s last four games.

College basketball is finally over. This writer does not care for the one-and-done sportscape now in vogue. So many young men are buying into the idea they are ready for professional basketball at 19 and 20 years of age. In a majority of cases, they are not, and find themselves traveling to play overseas when they are cut from NBA rosters. The NCAA needs to do something to keep these young men on college campuses for at least three years. Special players. Sure, go. But there is no way that all of the guys declaring for the NBA draft are ready emotionally, educationally—and, in some cases, physically.

Mike Krzyzewski has adapted in order to keep up with the trend. He has won with four-and-done (Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill) and he has competed with the one year players (Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, Jabari Parker), and now won with a one-and-done group (possibly Okafor, Winslow, Tyus Jones). He has gone to the Final Four in four separate decades. He is the master, plain and simple.

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