This season’s NCAA basketball tournament has not only been action-packed and filled with great games, but it features several quite interesting backstories. From heartwarming to the controversial, and some agonizing. Of course there’s been some defeat.
The Duke win over UCF on Sunday featured several back stories.
The University of Central Florida is coached by former Duke player and Duke assistant coach Johnny Dawkins, once a young protege of their head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Dawkins became an assistant for Duke in 1998 after nine years in the NBA. He became their associate head coach in 1999 until the end of the 2007-2008 season when he became the head coach of Stamford University. He held a clip board for Duke during their 2001 championship season.
At the conclusion of his eighth season in March of 2016, after only one NCAA post season appearance, Dawkins was relieved of his duties, but signed on with UCF later that month.
Dawkins’ son, Aubrey Dawkins, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound shooting guard, transferred from Michigan to play for his father at UCF.
Their record this season was 24 and 9, 13 and 5 in conference play. UCF was seeded 9, now scheduled to play the 1-seed, Duke, with Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett to advance to the Sweet 16 this week.
One play, one missed shot during the remaining seconds of the game by the younger Dawkins who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, prevented UCF from advancing.
Dawkins attempted a tip-in off of a short missed jumper. It rimmed out with about two seconds left on the clock. Duke won 77-76.
“I’ve been unlucky in the tournament, I’ve been lucky,” said Krzyzewski. “I feel bad for Johnny,” he continued while expressing his love for his former player and assistant.
“It’s tough,” said Dawkins, the father. “I love that man. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Even more emotional were Dawkins’ words to his players after the game.
“We end in tears, that’s because we invested so much in each other,” Dawkins said, trying to find the right words to compliment his team’s effort.
“I love you guys. It’s been amazing coaching this group, and for us, we got a lot of good memories. We accomplished a lot of amazing things this year.”
Duke, UNC, Gonzaga and Virginia, all four 1-seeds, play tonight and tomorrow, Friday, hoping to advance to the Elite Eight round on Saturday and Sunday. All local participants from this area have been eliminated, as well as Villanova, the defending champions.
Key marquee games scheduled are Florida State vs. Gonzaga and Texas Tech vs. Michigan tomorrow (Friday). Virginia Tech vs. Duke on Friday along with Auburn vs. UNC and LSU vs. Michigan State.