March Rewind: Coach K Makes First Final Four

Blue Devils top Navy, and David Robinson, in 1986
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What's March without Duke Tournament basketball? With this year's ACC and NCAA Tournaments cancelled, we'll go back in time to look at the top Blue Devils postseason games from each date in March and early April. Special thanks to for boxscores and the Duke Library for the newspaper archive.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski made his first Final Four when Duke beat Navy, 71-50, in East Rutherford to win the 1986 East Regional.

The game began Coach K’s long relationship with David Robinson. The Admiral was the star of the Navy team and scored 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, with 10 rebounds and three steals. Krzyzewski and Robinson would later be teamed up on the 1992 Dream Team, where Coach K was an assistant coach and Robinson split time in the paint with Patrick Ewing. Robinson’s son, Justin, was a senior on this year’s Duke team.

Future Georgia Tech basketball coach Brian Gregory was also on the Navy team, going scoreless in two minutes.

Despite Robinson’s heroics inside, Duke outrebounded the Middies, 45-26, led by Jay Bilas, who had 10. Mark Alarie had eight and Johnny Dawkins seven to go with his 28 points.

“We’ve never been outrebounded like that,” Robinson said.

In other March 23 action:

Duke was eliminated in the 2006 Sweet 16 by LSU, 62-54, in Atlanta. JJ Redick closed his career with a nightmare game, shooting 3-of-18 for 11 points. The last basket of Redick’s career gave Duke a 52-51 lead with three and a half minutes to play. LSU outscored Duke 11-2 the rest of the way.

Duke advanced to the 2018 Midwest Regional final with a 69-65 win over Syracuse in Omaha. Marvin Bagley III scored 22 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Grayson Allen hit just 3-of-14 from three but dished out eight assists.