It's no secret that Duke is one of the greatest college basketball programs of all time and that their reign of dominance is due in large part to a basketball culture that head coach Mike Krzyzewski created in the early 1980s. Coach K, as he is better known, has been nothing short of incredible in his time at Duke and has made the school a staple of nearly every NCAA March Madness Tournament since being named head coach. He has also sent some some great Duke players to the NBA in that time including the likes of Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Kyrie Irving, Loul Deng, Bobby Hurley, and J.J. Redick just to name a few.
Duke is also one of the most clean-cut programs in the history of college sports, showing an ability to recruit top-notch talent every year without getting hit with any recruiting violations. Duke's squeaky clean image, combined with its ongoing legacy of being a championship contender has made them one of the most beloved franchises (their fans are very devoted), but also one of the most hated. Given its continued success over the past three decades, Duke has been in the spotlight more than most programs. This nearly constant exposure has created many great memories of the Duke basketball program, but also several forgettable ones as well. In saying that, this list takes a look at the top 15 things Duke probably wants us to forget about their basketball program.
15 Upset Loss to South Carolina in 2017 March Madness
Let's go ahead and start with the most recent Duke meltdown. Heading into the 2016-17 season, Duke was all the rave of college basketball and were selected as the preseason favorites to win the championship by my analysts. It ended up being a tumultuous season for the Blue Devils, but they were still able to grab a #2 seed heading into the tournament.
Unfortunately for Coach K and his crew, the team ran into a low seeded South Carolina team that was ready to steamroll anything in their way. Duke fought hard but eventually lost to the #11 seeded Gamecocks. While it was a major letdown for the Duke program, they should take some solace in the fact that South Carolina eventually reached the Final Four. Everybody loves a good upset, but Duke would rather us forget about last season altogether.
14 North Carolina is Better Head-to-Head
One of the greatest college basketball rivalries is Duke vs. University of North Carolina. These two basketball powerhouses reside just 10 miles apart, separated only by a stretch of highway more commonly known as "Tobacco Road." With the amount of vitriol shared between the two teams fans, you would assume that bragging rights are worth more than money can buy.
For as good as Duke has been throughout history, North Carolina still has the upper hand when it comes to head-to-head match-ups. The two schools have played each other an astounding 246 times and thus far North Carolina is leading the series with 135-111 record. That record can't sit well for Duke fans and it's a statistic that Tar Heel fans certainly won't forget anytime soon. All-time bragging rights favor UNC at this point.
13 Duke's Blowout Championship Loss to UNLV
Led by point guard Bobby Hurley, Duke was viewed as a potential championship caliber team in the 1989-90 season, and they showed that they were the real deal by reaching the NCAA Finals. Their opponents were a fast-paced, exciting team out of University of Nevada Las Vegas that had captured the hearts of many around the nation and were led by legendary coach Jerry Tarkenian.
Fielding a team that consisted of Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, and Stacey Augmon, the Blue Devils stood no chance. They were outmatched athletically, physically, and quite frankly, UNLV just had more swagger that intimidated Duke. It was a pitiful championship performance by the Blue Devils as they lost by a score of 103-73. The 30-point loss still stands as the largest blowout in NCAA title game history. Duke did get revenge the following season on their way to their first NCAA Championship.
12 They Were Almost The Duke "Polar Bears"
Many people probably aren't aware of the meaning behind Duke's mascot, the Blue Devils. No, it's not some satanic figure that Duke sold their soul to in exchange for an eternity of good basketball teams. The Blue Devil name actually comes from a well-known French army troop in World War I referred to as "Les Diables Bleus." The French troop always wore a distinctive blue uniform, hence the Blue Devils.
Shortly after the war, in 1921, Duke University requested the participation of its students in order to help choose a mascot for the school so it would become more well-known nationally. Of the many different options suggested, one of the finalist was the "Duke Polar Bears." Thankfully for Duke, there were just enough votes for the Blue Devils to win out.
11 The 1994-95 Season
Duke's 1994-95 season got off to a promising start in which they won 9 of their first 12 games heading into the conference schedule. But Coach Mike Krzyzewski was suffering from debilitating back pain and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. Assistant Coach Pete Gaudet took over the coaching duties for the team and went 0-5 in his first five games.
Things would never swing back into Duke's favor that season and they finished an astounding 13-18 overall, and just 2-14 in their conference games. It was the only season in the past 33 years in which Duke failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Does having Coach K roaming the sidelines make that drastic of a difference? Or was this just the least talented Duke team in the past 30 years? Either way, Duke would certainly like us all to forget all about this dreadful season.
10 The Basketball Games Are The Most Exciting Thing In Durham
I'm not going to lie, I'm a little biased here because I went to a school that is not very well known for its basketball program. But what Arizona State University lacks in basketball, it more than makes up for in its beautiful women, pool parties, and nightlife scene. The same cannot be said for Duke. The most exciting thing for a Duke student is to get tickets to Cameron Indoor Stadium (a tough task in and of itself) for a basketball game.
Yes the Cameron Crazies look to be having a great time at the Duke games and are a big reason as to why Duke is so dominant on its home court. But basketball season is only a few months long and there are only so many home games each year. What do you Crazies do for fun outside of basketball season? Again, I'm only hating because basketball was not a priority among my fellow Sun Devils so maybe I just don't get it. Do you Dukies.
9 Grayson Allen
Like many Duke recruits, Grayson Allen was a high school phenom with all of the requite accolades for a highly touted freshman. In fact, Allen wasn't just a McDonalds All-American, he even won the events Slam Dunk contest that year (I guess white men can jump). While Allen was a star in the making, it was evident that his competitive spirit would eventually rub some people the wrong way. After two successful seasons, Allen entered his Junior season last year as Duke's main attraction. Unfortunately for Duke, that attraction seemed more like a circus than a basketball game.
Allen was repeatedly berated by national media outlets for his repeated tripping incidents, in which he would intentionally attempt to trip opposing players. This only grew the hatred for Duke that many NCAA fans already held. Allen recently declared that he will return to Duke for his Senior season, so sorry Duke fans but we cannot forget about Allen quite yet. The hate will continue for at least one more season.
8 Coach K Was An Understudy to Bobby Knight
Mike Krzyzewski played his collegiate basketball at West Point, while he simultaneously was training to becoming an officer in the U.S. Army. His coach at West Point was none other than the legendary Bobby Knight. Upon completion of his Army service in 1974, Mike Krzyzewski officially became Coach K when he took an assistant coaching position at Indiana under his former coach Bobby Knight.
Bobby Knight is one of the greatest coaches of all time but he is more well-known for his fiery temper on the court. Knight's most infamous move was when he tossed his chair across the court after being in a heated argument with the referee. Coach K often seems the opposite of Knight in their demeanor as Coach K is much more poised and stoic most of the time. Although it's getting late in his career, I would love to see Coach K throw a chair in honor of his former coach and mentor.
7 The Ineligibility of Corey Maggette
Corey Maggette was an All-American basketball player coming from Illinois when he joined the Duke Blue Devils in 1998. He and fellow Duke standout Elton Brand immediately created match-up nightmares for opposing teams and the duo helped lead the Blue Devils to the 1999 NCAA Championship Game, where Duke was upset by the University of Connecticut. Maggette left Duke after his Freshman season.
In 2000, Maggette admitted to accepting money ($2,000) from his former AAU Summer League coach while he was still in high school. It is illegal for an amateur player to receive money and thus technically made Maggette ineligible to play in college. Duke claimed they were not aware of Maggette's ineligibility and the NCAA agreed with them when they decided not to punish Duke and vacate their runner-up finish in 1999. Regardless, it put a dark cloud over an other-wise squeaky clean Duke program (or is it?).
6 Duke vs. University of Arizona (2011)
Although it pains me to write this as a former Sun Devil and forever University of Arizona Wild"Rats" hater, their beatdown of Duke in the 2011 NCAA Tournament must be mentioned. That season, Duke was one of the favorites to win it all and entered the tournament as the #1 seed in the west region. All was going well until they ran into some serious athletes from Tuscon.
It seemed like every five minutes there was another UofA player completely posterizing a Duke foe. Kyle Singler got it the worst when Jamelle Horne completely destroyed him at the rim and all but signaled the end of Duke's season. Arizona standout Derrick Williams also probably gives Duke fans nightmares after his monster performance in that game, in which he scored 25 points in the first half alone. It was one of the few times in the past two decades in which Duke absolutely looked over-matched. Dukies, I'm okay with forgetting about this one too.
5 Coach K Won't Coach Forever
Coach K is a Duke legend. But Coach K is also human and it would be nascent to believe that Coach K will continue coaching for much longer. He will turn 71 before next year's NCAA Tournament and will be in his 38th season with the University. His overall record is staggering, with 998 wins to only 271 losses. That is simply incredible and, as mentioned, legendary. It is a sure thing that Coach K will earn his 1,000th victory at Duke this coming season and will almost assuredly continue his streak of reaching the NCAA Tournament to 23 straight seasons.
While Coach K still certainly has the fire and has shown minimal signs of slowing down, it will happen and Duke will suffer a letdown when it does. How small that letdown will be will be up to Jeff Capel, who appears to be trying to "wait out" Coach K's eventual departure as he has turned down several other head coaching opportunities at big time schools to remain an assistant at Duke. This leads me to believe that Capel expects Coach K to be done sooner than later. It's okay though Duke fans, we won't ever forget Coach K.
4 Christian Laettner's Stomp
Everybody knows "The Shot" that Christian Laettner hit at the buzzer to beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. You know the one where Grant Hill chucked the ball 3/4 of the court to Laettner who caught it, faked to his right before pivoting back and shooting a beautiful turnaround jumper from the free-throw line. It's one of the most memorable moments in NCAA history and for good reason.
But earlier in that same game, Laettner did something that wasn't nearly as "beautiful" or "legendary." In the second half of the game, Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake fell down under the basket and Laettner spotted him and stepped on Timberlake's chest as he headed back down the court. Incredibly, Laettner wasn't ejected for the action. Because Laettner was only accessed a technical for the stomp, he was allowed to remain in the game and create one of the most memorable plays in NCAA history. Next time you see the replay of The Shot, don't forget about the "The Stomp."
3 Their Fans Are Not Allowed To Rush The Court
Rushing the court may be a cliche reaction for when a team gets an upset victory, but for many underdog schools that thrill of rushing the court with their friends is a memory that they will always carry with them well after their collegiate years. Apparently Duke is just too classy to join in on the fun of court storming after a big win, or maybe it's just because they expect to win every game.
Regardless of the reason, it's an unwritten rule of etiquette at Cameron Stadium for Duke students to not rush the court after a victory. There is nothing wrong with this rule and in fact it probably is wise given the dangers associated with thousands of people rushing through the stands to get to the court. But what is the fun in banning this type of activity? As if Duke students don't already have a "mid-30s with a family and a mortgage" vibe upon their graduation, this only helps cement that stereotype.
2 Coach K Looks Like The Blue Devil Mascot
Let me start off with a disclaimer that I agree it may be a stretch to say that Coach K looks like the Duke Blue Devil mascot, but that hasn't stopped me from laughing at pictures comparing the two for the past five minutes. Plus now that John Thompson no longer coaches the Georgetown Bulldogs, it was time for a new college coach to be appointed as the mascot lookalike king. They definitely do share similar features and demeanor, if Coach K would only wear a cape and helmet it would be perfect.
The newest version of the Blue Devil looks even more like Coach K than the old one too, with that devilish grin and those black scowling eyes. The Blue Devil is to Coach K, like the Hulk is to Bruce Banner. Don't make Coach K angry... you won't like him when he's angry. Regardless of whether you think there is any resemblance or not, you can't argue that the similarities are like a living nightmare, especially since the Blue Devil was adopted as the official school mascot in 1923. Is it just a weird coincidence or is it an episode of the Twilight Zone? I wish I could forget this because now I can't look at Coach K the same.
1 Everybody Hates Duke
Duke basketball is easily the most hated sports program in all of college sports. Yes Duke fans, we all hate you because your team is always good... always. It's easy to hate Grayson Allen. It's easy to hate Christian Laettner (ESPN even made a documentary called "I Hate Christian Laettner.") It's easy to hate Coach K, while simultaneously admitting that he is one of the greatest college coaches of all time. It's easy to hate the Cameron Crazies, with their bodies and faces died blue. It's easy to hate Kyle from the IT department at work who wears a blue Polo shirt every other casual Friday.
But us Duke haters realize the greatness of Duke basketball and the greatness of Coach K. We know their is no other place in college basketball like Cameron Indoor and hope that our teams play Duke in non-conference play instead of when it counts in the tourney. We still put Duke in the Final Four of our March Madness brackets every year, and then curse them for getting knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen. And as we much as we hate Duke, we know they aren't going away anytime soon and that college basketball is better for their program. In saying that I hope the Dookies goes 0-30 next season.