Duke

Gene Banks on the ‘real Coach K’

Duke's Gene Banks passes after driving the lane against UNC in the Blue Devils OT win against UNC March, 2, 1981.
Duke's Gene Banks passes after driving the lane against UNC in the Blue Devils OT win against UNC March, 2, 1981. 1981 News & Observer file photo

Gene Banks was a senior on Krzyzewski’s first Duke team, the 1980-81 squad that finished 17-13. Banks led the conference in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game.

“One game he got mad. He always kept trying to promote that he wasn’t Bobby Knight. He always kept saying that, and we didn’t see any Bobby Knight things. But I think it was the practice before the Maryland game, and he snapped, and we finally saw it. Kenny (Dennard) and I looked at each other and said ‘uh, oh.’ We hadn’t seen it. It had been real quiet and real cool, but then he just snapped. He threw something across the room, and it was like, OK, now the real K is coming out.

“But he had a moment, and to be really truthful, it was justified because the guys, they weren’t getting me the ball properly, guys were jacking around, not doing their responsibilities. And he made it clear, this is what I want done, this is what you’re supposed to do, and that’s when I first saw when he put people in their place for their roles. He was doing it in a different way, but this time he forcefully said ‘F it, I’m done with this, this is how you’re going to do it, this is how you’re going to do this,’ and that changed things. That changed the dynamics of the team as well, and even for me. He was helpful for me.”

Laura Keeley

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