When Mike Krzyzewski was hired by Duke in 1980, he inherited the remnants of Bill Foster’s great team, but not much more. Gene Banks, Kenny Dennard, Jim Suddath, Tom Emma, Chip Engelland and Vince Taylor gave him something to build on. It was a good but not great team. Mike Gminski had left the year before and the hole in the middle would prove impossible to fill.
But the rest? Pretty good and certainly experienced. Banks and Dennard were not like any forwards Duke had ever had, with the possible exception of Art Heyman. They were both larger than life figures who were forced to adjust, in their final season, to a very different sort of a coach who was only about a decade older.
But Krzyzewski won their respect and Duke put together a respectable season.
In the final regular season game in the 1980-81 season, UNC was in Cameron. The Tar Heels had Sam Perkins, James Worthy, Jimmy Black, Al Wood and Matt Doherty but it was Senior Day. Before the game started, Banks came out and threw roses to the crowd. The mood, as always, was electric.
In the closing seconds, UNC was up by a basket. Coach K called time out and drew up a play that was designed to get someone else – perhaps Tom Emma – an open shot.
Dennard disregarded it and threw the ball to Banks, which turned out to be a great decision: Banks lofted a shot over the very long arm of Sam Perkins and put the game in overtime, where Duke won, 65-64 for Coach K’s first-ever win over UNC.