Midwest final: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Louisville: Coaches of '92 classic meet for third time

2013-03-31T00:00:00Z Midwest final: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Louisville: Coaches of '92 classic meet for third timeThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS - Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino are finally doing an encore.

For the first time since their teams played perhaps the greatest game in the history of the NCAA tournament, Krzyzewski and Pitino will meet in the NCAA tournament today when top-seeded Louisville faces Duke. In a regional final, no less.

Never mind that few of their current players were even born in 1992. Or that Pitino is no longer at Kentucky, having switched sides in the state's civil war after his brief trip to Boston and the NBA ended badly.

Krzyzewski and Pitino are forever linked by that one game in Philadelphia, immortalized by Christian Laettner's improbable shot.

"It's one of those moments in time that helped define our sport," Krzyzewski said Saturday. "When I've talked to Rick about it, we realize we were the lucky guys. We had different roles at that time, but we were both lucky to be there."

Said Pitino, "It was like being in Carnegie Hall and seeing the best musician or the best singer. Just sitting there in amazement of what they were doing out on the basketball court."

Krzyzewski and Pitino rarely play each other. When Louisville (32-5) and Duke (30-5) played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November - Duke won - it was the first time Krzyzewski and Pitino had played each other since '92. Today's game will be their third meeting ever.

But almost nothing could top that first meeting between them.

The Blue Devils, led by Laettner and Grant Hill, were defending national champions in 1992. Kentucky was on the rise again after two years on probation. When they met in the Spectrum for the East Region final, it was a showdown of the 1 and 2 seeds.

"It was such a high-scoring game with so much perfection in the way players passed and shot the ball. That's what made it stand the test of time," Pitino said. "It was a game where two coaches could sit back and watch great players perform at the highest level."

After coming from 10 down in regulation, Kentucky appeared to have the game won when Sean Woods made a running bank shot with 2.5 seconds left in overtime.

The Wildcats knew the ball was going to Laettner. But without Jamal Mashburn - he'd fouled out - Pitino pulled John Pelphrey and Deron Feldhaus aside.

"I said, 'Whatever you do, don't foul him. He hasn't missed a shot,'" Pitino recalled. "I shouldn't have done that. That was the mistake I made."

Hill threw a strike from the far baseline and found Laettner at the foul line with his back to the basket. Laettner faked right, spun to his left and his 15-footer hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded.

"I don't think you can realize the significance at that time," Krzyzewski said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Latest Hansen video

More videos

Hansen: Pac-12 projections, Part 1

Ryan and Greg break down the Pac-12 South to commemorate media days.


Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...