In many ways, it was a storybook ending to Duke's home season. It was senior night in Cameron Indoor Stadium, a night for adoration to pour down on Andre Buckner, Dahntay Jones, and Casey Sanders in their final game on Coach K Court. The Blue Devils jumped out to a 40-20 lead en route to an easy 72-56 victory, avenging an earlier loss to Florida State. To top it off, Andre Buckner scooped in a shot with 16 seconds left to provide an ending to the evening worthy of a Hollywood script.
So why was Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski seething after the game?
There have been whispers all year - for several years, really - that the Cameron Crazies aren't living up to their reputation. Krzyzewski turned those whispers up about 100 decibels following Thursday night's game.
"I thought in the second half, the atmosphere was horrible," he said. "It seemed like in the second half, there was no emotion. I've never seen [Cameron Indoor Stadium] like that."
If Krzyzewski had stopped there, the message would have been sent. But his rant wasn't done. Not even close.
"This has been such a good year for us," he said. "We're 21-5 and these kids have played their butts off, and it's like nobody knows, especially our fans. I'm sorry, but I'm right about that. I hate to say it, but I'm right about it. I'm not blaming anyone, I'm just saying that's the way it is, and if that's the way it is, then so be it, we'll try to do it [ourselves]."
If that's not a call-to-arms, then what is?
"I think it's indicative of the attitude that's been surrounding our team all year long," Krzyzewski continued. "[It's the attitude of], 'yeah, we're Duke, and we should win.' There are three or four freshmen on the court at any one time, and we should be all over these kids. [But apparently] we've won too much."
So how do you really feel, coach?
Krzyzewski's wrath wasn't restricted to the students. Pulling no punches, he took a shot at the non-student segment of the crowd, as well.
"When the seniors were introduced, half the people in the upper deck were not here," Krzyzewski said. "That's not a good thing. Do you think that's a good thing?"
Krzyzewski stopped short of saying that his team depends on the Cameron Crazies to get into a game, granting that the team is ultimately responsible for generating its own energy and playing well regardless of the crowd. After all, when the Blue Devils go on the road, they play in front of crowds more likely to rain down batteries than affection.
But the coach is clearly not pleased with the state of the union in Krzyzewskiville. He has always taken an active interest in his team's fan base, speaking to students on the eve of the home games against Maryland and North Carolina, and communicating his feelings on the crowd's craziness. Krzyzewski has even commented on specific cheers he likes or dislikes.
It's not surprising, then, that the coach would take it personally when the Cameron Crazies do not live up to his standard.
He's got a point, too. The previous two years, Duke won early and won often. Most games were a foregone conclusion. The biggest question in many contests was whether the Blue Devils would win by 32 or 23 points, and who would throw down the nastiest dunks. This year, Duke fields a young team that has grown throughout the course of the season, playing lots of pretty exciting games in the process. And they're winning.
But as Krzyzewski poignantly pointed out Thursday night, Duke's success in previous years has caused many of its fans to take the team for granted.
"It's not fresh and exciting anymore, you know what I mean?" Krzyzewski asked. "We've won so much. It's kind of sad [now]."
Duke's 23rd-year coach is frustrated with it. The Blue Devils' next home game is more than seven months away, and he's already eager for a change.
Krzyzewski's final message to the Cameron Crazies?
"Let's go," he urged. "We'll be ready to go."
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