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Why Duke is the Best College Basketball Program

To no surprise, the Duke Blue Devils’ head into the 2017-18 season as one of the top ranked teams. You would think losing four players, three in the first round, to this year’s NBA draft would have hurt them. Instead, the Blue Devils brought in three of the top seven players among the Top 100 prospect list, as well as kept Grayson Allen for his senior year.

Barring injury, it looks like another National Championship banner could be headed to Durham. With all of Duke’s recent success, it got us thinking… do the Blue Devils have the best program in the NCAA?

Just going by the numbers, it is clear that no team in the modern era is even close to accomplishing what Duke has done, on and off the court.

To start off, let’s take a look at the five-time champions basketball résumé.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI & DUKE’S WINNING TRADITIONS

Before everyone freaks out about Duke being named a better program than UCLA, who won 10 titles from 1964 to 1975, let’s take a look back at the rules and regulations of that era. In nine of their 10 titles, UCLA only had to win four games during the NCAA Tournament. One thing that should also be noted, freshman weren’t even allowed to play varsity basketball until the 1972-73 season. In this past NBA draft, nine of the first ten selections were freshman. Imagine playing in a time in which some of the best players could not even step on the court? Players could not dunk the ball from 1968-1976. Not to mention the three-point shot wasn’t even introduced until 1986.

Let me say that one more time.

The three-point shot was not apart of the NCAA until 1986, thus proving that the game was much different, and not comparable to the one we see today.

Now that it’s clear the game really became official in 1986, let’s see how Duke compares to other major programs.

 

SCHOOL # OF CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1986
DUKE 5
UNC 4
UCONN 4
KENTUCKY 3
SCHOOL # OF NCAA TOURNAMENT WINS SINCE 1986
DUKE 90
UNC 85
KANSAS 79
KENTUCKY 76
CONNECTICUT 55
ARIZONA 54
MICHIGAN STATE 54

ADDITIONAL FACTS

  • Duke has had 11 National Player of the Years
  • Duke has made the National Championship 11 total times
  • Duke has made 16 Final Fours
  • Duke has made 20 Elite Eights
  • Duke has made 29 Sweet Sixteens
  • Duke has had 71 McDonalds All-Americans (Most in NCAA)
  • Duke has the Most Consecutive APR Awards (Most in NCAA)

Next Level

  • Duke has had 23 Lottery Picks (MOST in NCAA)
  • Duke has had 32 First Round Picks (MOST in NCAA)
  • Duke has had 10 Top Three Picks since 1992 (MOST in NCAA)
  • Duke has had Multiple 1st Round Picks in five out of the last seven years

So how does one school stay on top, year after year? The answer: Krzyzewski.

The winningest coach in NCAA men’s basketball history, Mike Krzyzewski is clearly the most important piece to this storied university. His ability to lead, coach, and teach his players has made Duke a hot destination for upcoming freshman, year after year.

PAST FRESHMAN CLASSES

YEAR PLAYER(S) in Top 30 of ESPN Top 100
2017 Wendell Carter (#4), Trevon Duval (#5), Gary Trent Jr (#7)
2016 Harry Giles (#1), Jayson Tatum (#3), Frank Jackson (#10), Marques Bolden (#16)
2015 Brandon Ingram (#3), Chase Jeter (#11), Derryck Thornton (#17), Luke Kennard (#24)
2014 Jahlil Okafor (#1), Tyus Jones (#4), Justise Winslow (#15), Grayson Allen (#21)

What makes coach K so special? He tries not to focus too much on the x’s and o’s. Krzyzewski builds relationships with all of his players. He constantly asks them about their goals, both on the floor and off. Coach K focuses on the “we” concept, which is vital in creating a championship team. When recruiting, he doesn’t just look at talent. In an interview with Entrepreneur.com, coach explained how “academic ability and character” are two major evaluation areas for all incoming recruits.

Photo Courtesy of (nytimes.com)

When a relationship is established, it is very easy to gain trust. “Without trust, you have nothing” says Krzyzewski in an interview with Championship Coaches Network. His .755 winning percentage in March can be credited to the type of environment he creates for his team. In that same interview, when asked about culture and how he deals with players failing, Coach K exclaims how it is essential to “create an environment where people can make mistakes without worrying about it too much.” He would go on to say that, in order to successfully lead a program, one must “empower your assistants and the leadership on your team (like the captains) to speak and express themselves.” Coach K trusts his players and gives them confidence, which creates his winning culture.

Another significant advantage is the fact that Krzyzewski has been the head coach of the USA men’s basketball team since 2005. In that span, he has gone on to win Olympic Gold medals in each of the past three Olympics (2008, 2012, 2016). As a high school kid, whose dream is reaching the NBA, there is no better coach to play under than the guy who has spent countless summers with the best players in the world. Not only does Coach K offer great leadership and mentoring to the pros, but he is also able to pick up on how they train, and what they do to be successful. This information is then transferred over to his boys, which is a clear advantage for the talented young men.

Off the court, Krzyzewski remains nothing short of spectacular. Each semester, he keeps copies of everyone’s syllabi, and is alerted each week on how the team is doing. He constantly checks in with his players and asks them about upcoming papers and tests, making sure they feel just as confident in the classroom, as they do on the court.

This type of leadership has done wonders for the boys in the classroom. For instance, it is nearly impossible to find a year in which multiple Duke basketball players did not make the All-ACC Academic Team. In order to qualify for this team,  “a student-athlete must have earned a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career” (theacc.com).

In the Classroom

As we know, academics is a huge part of the university itself. Duke University holds a 9% acceptance rate, one of the top 10 schools with the lowest acceptance rates.

What does that mean?

It means that one of Coach K’s roles is to ensure that his players can obtain the education at the university with no problems. By the looks of it, he has established great success regarding his players and their transcripts.

The last two years, the Blue Devils basketball team has posted a total of seven NCAA Academic ACC All Americans: Grayson Allen (2), Chase Jeter, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, Amile Jefferson (2) and Marshall Plumlee. The highest amount among any ACC team. Not to mention that Grayson 

Duke Basketball Grads IG: (@dukembb)

Allen was named an NCAA Academic All American. 2016 marked Duke’s 22nd consecutive year with at-least one player on the ACC all-academic team. To add, Duke holds a historical list of 91 total players on the ACC All Academic team. UNC stands in second place with only 57 players. 

With that being said, Duke produces talent on the basketball court, and definitely in the classroom.  Unfortunately, there are a plethora of other NCAA men’s basketball programs in which players are openly admitting to their tutors writing their papers, as well as constantly skipping out on classes. For example, in an interview with ESPN, Rashad McCants from UNC’s 2004-05 National Title team, he publicly announced his academic secrets by saying “he rarely went to class…and took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible” showing that his time was centrally focused on basketball. Or how about when Derrick Rose never took the SAT, instead having a friend take the test under Rose’s name. Rose went on to play at the University of Memphis, where John Calipari was coaching at the time. Now coaching at Kentucky, who knows what Calipari is allowing in his classrooms.

Let’s close the books and head back to the court. Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the Duke Blue Devils, and the biggest homecourt advantage in all of college hoops. What gives Duke such an advantage? The Cameron Crazies. 

“The Cameron Crazies”

Cameron Indoor Stadium: the wildest stadium among any NCAA basketball stadiums, and home to “The Cameron Crazies”. It’s safe to say, the Cameron Crazies affect each and every home-game. Their ability to remain standing the entire game with the same antics play-by-play gives Duke the full advantage.

“The rowdiest…best-organized college basketball fans in the land” Says ESPN.

Photo Courtesy of (syracuse.com)

A major leap from other college basketball programs is Krzyzewskiville, also known as “K-Ville”. For those unaware of this, “K-Ville” is one of the homes to the Cameron Crazies besides the stadium itself. It stands as a spot designated for the “Crazies” to camp out before games. Yes, camp out. They set up tents, move their dorm furniture in, and live there until game-time. Something unlike any college basketball fan-base. The “K-Ville” is the rowdiest during the UNC rival game. Students camp out for days, waiting for the tip-off of the biggest college rivalry matchup.

During the last eight seasons, the Duke basketball team has lost only eight total games at home. Can you guess how many they have won?

125 games.

Yes, this team holds a 125-8 record at home, during the last eight seasons. Four of the last eight seasons, the Blue Devils recorded undefeated home records.

Its obvious that this team exceeds at their home stadium. I mean, who wouldn’t with a fan-base like the “Cameron Crazies”? They have been known for their antics to rattle the opposite-team. In the past, they have thrown Twinkies at players who were considered overweight. They have also said “you’ll work for us one-day”, exhibiting the academic levels at Duke compared to other schools.

Senior Grayson Allen calls them “The Best Fans in the World”. 

It’s no surprise that Duke will have yet another successful season. The history shows what this program is capable of doing.

This piece was a collaboration by Shane Leary and Jeremy Bhandari. You can Like The Game Haus on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more esports and sports coverage.

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