2000–2001 Season Recap: Duke is King
It was about time for Shane Battier. The senior All-American had come close to winning a national title in his Duke career only to fall short each time. This season Battier, along with point guard Jason Williams, led the Blue Devils to their first national title since 1992. Battier was a rare breed in college basketball, a guy talented enough to have left early for the NBA but one who chose to stick around for four years in an effort to win a national title.
The patience paid off for Battier. It all fell into place this year for Duke, and Coach Krzyzewski got his third national championship. Battier excelled down the stretch and his teammate, Williams, shook off an ankle injury as the Blue Devils rolled to the title. On their way to another national championship Duke met familiar foe Maryland in the Final Four. Maryland was making its first ever Final Four appearance after 17 tournament bids, and it was the Terps that gave Duke one of its four losses during the year when they spoiled the final home game for Battier. That game was payback for their meeting in College Park when the Devils stunned Maryland by erasing a 10-point deficit in the final minute to force overtime and the eventual victory.
Duke beat the Terps despite falling behind early in their fourth meeting of the season and faced an emotionally charged Arizona team in the final. The Wildcats were trying to win one for Bobbi, the wife of head coach Lute Olson who died early in the season. Arizona won 20 of its final 23 games and battled Duke in the national championship game. But, in the end, the Wildcats couldn't deny Battier and Co. as the Blue Devils prevailed 82-72.
Also in 2001, coaching legend Denny Crum said goodbye following 30 years at Louisville. The longtime Cardinals coach stepped down at the end of the season after 675 wins, six Final Four appearances and two national crowns.
Another coaching legend said hello this year. Bobby Knight, the tough-love icon that departed Indiana under less-than-ideal conditions, returned to coaching in November after a year off, with Texas Tech.