INDIANAPOLIS -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had told his players not to worry about the ghosts of the school's Final Four failures and to play last night's title game for themselves.
But once the issue was decided and the Blue Devils had collected their first national championship, beating Kansas 72-65, he changed his tune and said the win was indeed for everyone who had come before.
"Coach mentioned that this win was for everybody, for everybody who has played here before," said freshman Grant Hill.
And some of those bodies who had been there before were lined up at the Duke bench when the final buzzer sounded, to congratulate their successors.
There was Billy King, the defensive wizard who gave Temple's Mark Macon nightmares in the East Regional final three years ago.
There was Quin Snyder, the point guard who made three Final Four trips and came away empty on all.
And then there were Tommy Amaker and Jay Bilas, who are now assistants to Krzyzewski, but who, like Snyder, came up short.
"It's a part of Duke and for that, I'm really happy," said Snyder. "I really love Coach K."
For his part, Krzyzewski, who has gone to five Final Fours, but never won it all until last night, would not acknowledge that a weight had been lifted from him, but expressed his joy at what his team had accomplished.
"It's never been a monkey on my back," said Krzyzewski. "Did you see their faces? I am just happy for my team. I hope we do it again. I wonder when we will do it again."
* LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Grant Hill was politely fielding questions from the media, when his dad strode up and shook his hand in congratulations.
"So, do I get the ring?" asked Calvin Hill, Orioles vice president and former Dallas Cowboys running back, who won a Super Bowl ring in 1972, when Dallas defeated Miami 24-3.
"We'll trade," said the younger Hill with a laugh, and then added, "My father took me to the 1984 Final Four, when I was in elementary school. From that point on, I decided I wanted to be here. I wanted to play for the NCAA champs."
* THE FAB FIVE: The Final Five is complete, now that the guys from Maguire University have been spotted.
Final Five? Maguire U? What's going on here?
For at least the last 25 years, a hearty band of coaches and athletic directors from the Chicago area have been coming to the Final Four, wherever it might be played, under the name of Maguire University.
Once upon a time, Maguire U. was actually licensed with the NCAA, until the gang in Kansas discovered that there really was no school there.
This year, about 45 or so Maguire "students" made the pilgrimage and headquartered in a hotel on the north side of town. Their tickets were scattered all over the Hoosier Dome, but the important thing is, they're back.
This year's rallying cry is, "We Play Hurt." What does that mean? "If you were with us last night, you'd know," said a man who asked to remain anonymous.
* WORDS TO REMEMBER: Here's a sprinkling of some of the best things seen and heard around town during Final Four weekend:
* Kansas coach Roy Williams on recruiting: "Recruiting is like marriage. You may have a girl that you like best, but she doesn't want to give you the time of day. But you've got to keep looking, because there's somebody out there for you."
* Williams, a former North Carolina assistant, on getting crowd support Saturday from Duke supporters: "This is the first time in my life that anybody from Duke has ever said anything nice about us. They were yelling and cheering for us and then after the game, they were yelling, 'We want Kansas.' I walked out and one guy with the band asked for my autograph and when I came back, I thought he was going to hit me with a tuba."
* Duke's Krzyzewski: "Down South, Krzyzewski is not a 10-letter word, it's a 23-letter word. Except in Chapel Hill, where it's a four-letter word."
* North Carolina's Dean Smith on getting ejected in the loss to Kansas: "No way do I ever want to leave a game. I'm not [Oklahoma coach] Billy Tubbs."
* FAIRLY FLOORED: The Final Four floor was on sale to fans hours before Duke and Kansas met at the Hoosier Dome last night. Iowa Sports Marketing Inc. purchased the floor from its Michigan manufacturer for $65,000 and planned to cut it into more than 22,000 6 1/2 -by-5-inch pieces that were being sold for $24.95 each.
* ALL-FINAL FOUR: The all-tournament name was led by MVP Christian Laettner of Duke, teammates Bobby Hurley and Bill McCaffrey, Mark Randall of Kansas and Anderson Hunt of UNLV.