Duke, Coach K have epic ending in reach at Final Four


SAN FRANCISCO — Mike Krzyzewski showed some agility for a septuagenarian with a slight limp, dodging workers bringing the podium onto the court for assembly and making a backdoor cut behind Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips. He was headed to the Duke cheering section to embrace his wife, Mickie, and the generations of family members who were with her. Retirement was pushed back again; another Final Four needed to be celebrated.

The looks on the faces of the Krzyzewski family Saturday night—and the faces of the Duke players—were diametrically different from exactly three weeks ago. Stricken then, beaming now. Coach K’s grandiose send-off from Cameron Indoor Stadium had flopped on March 5, ending with an upset at the hands of North Carolina that left him apologizing to the crowd and declaring the performance “unacceptable.” At that moment, his team buckling beneath the weight of trying to make a legend’s final act a success, it was hard to envision these Blue Devils transforming into the likely Final Four favorite.