If you’re a believer in divine intervention, you can’t ignore what happened to the 2015 National Champion Duke Basketball team. In a Steiner Sports Q&A I hosted with Mike Krzyzewski last month, we talked about how the team had its back against the wall with just eight scholarship players for their championship run and the messages he delivered to his team on their successful run.
This is a great watch for any sports or business fan:
We never practiced more than an hour the last two months of the season and never had more than one hour, total, of contact. We had a team meeting on the morning we got down to eight players. On the board I put up a large number eight. (Sure they had walk-ons, but you need at least 10 guys to practice).
“Eight is enough,” I said (like the TV show at one time)
I looked at each one of the guys and I told them how they were going to be important. I said, “What do you see when you see the number eight.” They didn’t have an answer.
When you draw an eight sideways, it’s an infinity sign. Eight is never ending. It became a mantra for us. It sent the message that every one of you is with us and important.
In practices everybody had the same ego and the last game- Grayson Allen…of all the moments everyone has had for our program, to me the best moment so far has been what Grayson did in the Wisconsin game.
I felt like we’re dead in the water. Our two best players, Okafor and Winslow are in foul trouble.
He makes the most amazing play- he knocks the ball away and he and Jackson for Wisconsin are going after this ball. He mania
cally is going after this ball and Jackson fouls him, but he still saves the ball. As he saves it he jumps right up- and he knew we needed our “Three E’s” (for everyone of our games in the tournament besides our game plan we needed Energy, Effort and Emotion). When he jumps up he says “Let’s Go!” He didn’t say it to the crowd. He said it to us.
All of a sudden a 68-year-old coach was 28 and felt we could win. Matt Jones said Dekker isn’t getting anything and he doesn’t. Amile Jefferson says to Coach Capel, I can stop Kaminsky and he goes in and he does that. All of a sudden Okafor and Winslow aren’t thinking of fouls…all of a sudden we won.
In how many companies would the last guy even be allowed to express himself and be comfortable enough to do that and even after doing that, how many teams would accept it? That didn’t happen on our team. They believed in it.
Talk about divine intervention: the eighth man who averaged eight minutes a game came in and scored eight straight points.