Duke: Then and Now

Long before it was known as Duke University, there was Trinity College, long before  903 wins and Mike Krzyzewski, there was Wilbur Wade Card. Born in October of 1873, Card became the first men’s basketball  coach as well as Athletic Director at Trinity College (Duke). Card is noted as introducing basketball to the state of North Carolina. He coached the men’s basketball team from 1906 to 1912. Card put together a rag tag team to play Wake Forest College (now known as Wake Forest University) in a game that was to be played in Durham. Trinity College lost it’s first game to Wake 24-10.

Card finished up his career as head coach in 1912 with a record of 30-17. He  died in 1948  from a heart attack and was buried in Durham at Maplewood Cemetery. The Gymnasium at Duke was named in his honor in 1958 and today we know it as Card Gym, which is located beside Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Card Gymnasium opened in 1930 and held a seating capacity of 4.000 fans. It was used until Duke opened Cameron Indoor Stadium on Janurary 6th 1940. The original plans for Cameron Indoor Stadium were drawn up in 1935 by basketball Coach Eddie Cameron and designed by Julian Abele at a cost of $400.000. It was the largest gymnasium south of the Palestra on the University of Pennsylvania.  It was originally known as Duke Indoor Stadium and renamed for Cameron on January 22nd 1972.

Cameron had a seating capacity of  8.800 fans with standing room for 9.500. Duke students were giving the seats in the lower level along side the court just as they have today. It was later redesigned in 1987-1988 adding an electronic scoreboard, wood paneling, brass rails and putting in seats for what’s now known as the Cameron Crazies. The seating court side for the students was designed to hold 1.100 but was known to crowd in 1.600 at times.

Over the years Duke rise to prominence has had it’s up’s and downs, from it’s humble beginnings in Trinity, to the School’s relocation in Durham and four storied Championships.  Through the years Duke has had 19 Head Coaches if you include Pete Gaudet, who temporarily took the reins while Coach K was sidelined in 1995. A list shows Duke had  3 Coaches with losing Records, 4 if you count Pete Gaudet, that lists include Bob Doak, James Baldwin, Neil McGeachy and the aforementioned Pete Gaudet. There were several Coaches who finished their stints as Head Coach with barely a winning record. There were a few Coaches with very respected records such as Eddie Cameron and Vic Bubas.

Enter Mike Krzyzewski: Coach K took over in 1981 to mixed reviews. A coach virtually no one had heard of, unheralded and untested in big time College basketball. While it was a bumpy road in the beginning for Krzyzewski, Tom Butters, Duke’s then Athletic Director, chose to stick with him. Coach K rode out the initial wave of  criticism of losing to teams considered bottom feeders. After his dismal beginning Coach K started to make his mark, in 1982 Coach K landed his first major recruits in Mark Alarie,Jay Bilas, Johnny Dawkins, and David Henderson, then in 1983 he added Tommy Amaker. The future was set.

Since Krzyzewski has firmly put his signature on Duke basketball he has won the admiration of fans and colleagues alike. His 4 National Championships have propelled him into basketball immortality. He has created an atmosphere unparalleled in the last three decades. His named is now mentioned with the likes of  John Wooden,Vince Lombardi, Phil Jackson, and Bear Bryant.

Coach K’s 903 (and Kounting) wins this year will not define his legacy alone. His fingerprint will be felt not only in sports but in ways that touch us all. His work with the V foundation has actually saved lives, and thus leaving a lasting  impression on us all.