This time, alas, both shots missed. "O.K.," Krzyzewski said, "we've got one more."
No setup was necessary; Krzyzewski didn't mention the opponent or the place. The scoreboard clock read 2.1 seconds. Hill limbered up his arm behind the baseline. Laettner took up a spot 90 feet away, then broke to the free throw line, where there wasn't a Kentucky defender in sight. He took Hill's 75-foot pass, dribbled once, pivoted left and sank a 17-footer before the buzzer sounded.
It may not be possible to live in the past, but the ensuing mob scene indicated how you can still milk the past for all it's worth. Three recruits Duke desperately needs, Jason Collier of Springfield, Ohio; Willie Dersch of New York City; and Shaheen Holloway of Elizabeth, N.J., were on hand to see this, as was the returning Blue Devil team.
"I'm excited about our group and to be back coaching kids who are more grown up," says Krzyzewski. "But I'm not going to take my reputation and record and place it on this team and say, 'Well, if you don't do such and such, you're letting me down.' I'm beyond that."
Whether Krzyzewski is beyond the pressures that did him in a year ago remains an open question. "I've heard a lot of coaches' wives say, 'I've married, but my husband's job is his mistress,' " says Mickie, who has always played an outsized role in the Duke program, counseling players and doing video and promotional work. "I don't believe that at all. I believe he's married to his job, and I'm his mistress. That had been all right with me because I was married to his job, too. Then the job became his wife and his mistress. And that wasn't going to work."
Mickie still isn't convinced that some new weather system won't get organized over the next few seasons and again make a shambles of the Krzyzewskis' lives. "The only practical solution is to become mediocre," she says. "That's all we need to get rid of these problems. But becoming mediocre is totally unacceptable to Mike."
For now, there's nothing but blue skies ahead, but there's still the danger that success can bring storm clouds.