There are not too many things that Mike Krzyzewski has not experienced during his storied coaching career, and that is what makes Saturday night’s win in the 2017 ACC Tournament Championship extra special – and almost incomparable.
No team seeded fifth in the 64-year history of the ACC Tournament had ever won the tourney. Also, no ACC team had ever won four games in four days to win the tournament. That was the case, until the steady play of guards Luke Kennard (2017 ACC Tournament MVP), Frank Jackson and Grayson Allen, and the electric force of nature that is superstar-in-the-making Jayson Tatum helped to create history in New York City.
The Blue Devils once again had to come from behind in the second half against a quality opponent, and, once again, they succeeded in doing just that, defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 75-69 to win their 20th ACC Tournament – 14 with Coach K at the helm. At the 13-minute mark of the second half in its last three games, Duke found itself down 12 against Louisville in the quarterfinals, by 13 against top-seeded North Carolina in the semifinals and by six in tonight’s game, only to come back in each game to indeed become the first No. 5 seed in tournament history to take home the crown.
The remarkable run even had Coach K, the five-time national champion and three-time Olympic gold medal winner, saying this was something in his Hall-of-Fame career that he rarely has experienced.
“It’s a journey that’s kind of hard to describe, and like I was trying to tell the guys, the kids in the locker room, I said, you know, we’ve won a lot of these,” said Krzyzewski in the postgame press conference. “We’ve won, this is our 14th, but this one’s so different. I can’t say, well, it was like this one or like that — no, it was not like anything.”
It’s not like a Final Four or the NCAA Tournament because you don’t play four teams in a row like this. So it’s like this — how cool is it for me, for these kids to take me on a journey that at 70 I’ve never been on? Whether it’s Olympics — I’ve been on a lot of good journeys, but this was such a good one. Thank you. I thank my guys for doing it.”
Speaking of giving thanks, A Lot of Sports Talk would like to express our endless gratitude to photographer Robert Cole, who was courtside at Barclays Center – and went back-and-forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan to cover the Big East Tournament – shooting almost every game of the ACC Tournament, from noon on Tuesday until late Saturday night. We are more than fortunate to have him on our staff and, as you can see from these photos, is one of the best photojournalists in the business today. We can’t thank you enough, Robert. Take a bow.
Now let’s revel in Robert’s work, shall we? Here are 11 photos from tonight’s championship game, and make sure to refresh this page later on in the day as more photos make their way to us and are uploaded. We thank you very much for keeping it here all week during the thrill ride that was the 2017 ACC Tournament. See you all in a city near you for the NCAA Tournament!