Mike Krzyzewski has been making the sacred secular pilgrimage for more than 50 years, starting when he was a junior at West Point, the Black Knights fighting Notre Dame to the final minute of the NIT’s opening round. He’s been back plenty as a coach, too, notably the day in January 2015 when he won his 1,000th game.
“It’s every player’s dream to play at Madison Square Garden,” Krzyzewski said the other night, “and it’s every coach’s dream to coach there. It’s still a thrill for me.”
So, yes, the plan on Wednesday was for the Duke University Blue Devils to practice at Cameron Indoor Stadium, then hop a flight for New York, where on Thursday they will bring their 10-1 record and their No. 2 national ranking and play what Krzyzewski called “a big-boy game” against 10-0 Texas Tech, ranked 12th.
There will be a team dinner Wednesday night, and that’s where Krzyzewski was planning to regale them with tales of the Garden, tales of the city, how meaningful the building has been to him and to so many of the bold-faced names who have written basketball’s history across the past 80 years.
“The ball bouncing, it sounds different in there,” he said. “The public-address system sounds different. At 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, the basketball gods all play pickup games there.”