Some people wondered if Duke would win another game the rest of the season. In fact, the Blue Devils wouldn't lose again. The coaching staff stayed up all night, watching tape. The next day, a Wednesday, was a mandatory day off for the players, so Krzyzewski and his assistants mustered to plot the team's makeover. They decided to start their quickest player, the freshman Duhon, and bring senior swingman Nate James off the bench.
During the season the Blue Devils rarely practice in the morning. But with Sunday's game at North Carolina looming, they met at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday to recreate a training camp atmosphere and persuade one another that they were about to make a fresh start. The players didn't watch tape or do drills, only scrimmaged for 45 minutes, with the clock and scoreboard running. "I was trained for that," says Krzyzewski, a graduate of West Point. "Next play, let's go. Whether it's muddy or sunny, let's figure out a way to win."
At first Krzyzewski wasn't entirely sure there was a way. After the loss to Maryland, his wife had found him in the coaches' anteroom, slumped in a chair, shaking his head. "I could feel sorry for myself," he told her, "but we don't have the time. We have to get ready for North Carolina."
"Mom called me the next day in my dorm room," says Jamie, the Krzyzewskis' youngest daughter, who's a Duke freshman. "She said, 'You might want to stop by your dad's office tomorrow and give him a hug.' The first thing he says to me is, 'So, do you think Reggie Love [a 6'4" walk-on reserve] can guard [7-foot Tar Heels center] Brendan Haywood?'"
He did, of course—with the help of theretofore little-used backup center Casey Sanders. After Duke won in Chapel Hill, Krzyzewski told his players, "I'm as happy with you guys as I've ever been with any team." Without Boozer the Blue Devils would now sometimes launch a shot mere seconds into a possession. It might come from anyone's hand, from anywhere on the floor, not least from beyond the arc, which is where 42% of their shots were taken this season. In their sluggish 76-63 defeat of UCLA in the regional semifinals, the Blue Devils opened the game with six straight off-the-mark three-pointers, but not once did anyone look over at the bench. "Coach won't take us out if we miss a shot," says Duhon. "He'll be more upset if we don't take one."
Adds forward Mike Dunleavy, "We don't have a system, a 'triple-post offense,' or anything like that. We just kind of play basketball. When you have that confidence that everybody on the floor can stick it, the other team knows it. They stay closer to you, and you can drive and post up."
It's an approach that rests as much on minding your mental P's and Q's as your X's and O's. "We're here because we're good',' Krzyzewski yelled at his players during a timeout early in the UCLA game. He stared at Battier and said, "You're good." He turned to Williams and said, "You're good." And so on, to each starter in turn.
As he joins the company of the Wizard of Westwood, Krzyzewski resembles no one so much as the Wizard of Oz, who can simply tell his Tin Men, "You! You have a heart!" How else did Williams rediscover his free throw touch in March after missing 16 of 18 during one worrisome late-season stretch? Why did Duhon begin stroking three-pointers late in the East Regional final against Southern Cal after looking hesitant for much of the game? What made Dunleavy, 6 for 19 from beyond the arc in the tournament before Monday night, suddenly successful on 5-of-9 threes in the tide game, including a seven-minute stretch during which he scored 18 points?
"These guys believe everything Coach K tells them," says ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who played for and coached under Krzyzewski. "That's the power behind the program. He says it, they believe it, and eventually it comes true."
The flip side of Krzyzewski's new role as Wizard is that he has made it hard to get a look behind the curtain. Assistants answer much of his mail and do those quickie, on-the-way-off-the-floor halftime interviews with CBS. His players may be as available as ever to the local press, but he isn't. This year he moved into an office on the top floor of a six-story tower next to Cameron Indoor Stadium, from which he can survey his domain like a feudal lord. No one can gain access to his floor without an electronic thumbprint scan.