1. Duke saved their championship season in the final seconds of the 1992 Regional Final
Duke proved that good things don’t happen by dumb luck. You have to first put yourself in a position to win. Coach Knight often says that it’s not one team “wanting to win more”, it’s the team that does the little things that put you in a position to win.
2. Georgetown passed the ball to the wrong guy… and lost the 1982 championship
Coach Knight always posted in his locker rooms, “Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes.” In this example, if Georgetown hadn’t made this costly mistake in the closing seconds, they could have won.
3. Coach Knight’s Red Raiders Knocked Off #2 Ranked Kansas in 2OT
In one of the biggest wins of Knight’s career, his Texas Tech Red Raiders upset the #2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks in a 2OT thriller in 2005. The victory by his scrappy, underdog team exemplified Coach Knight’s philosophy of placing a greater focus on “not losing” than winning.
4. Butler’s Gordon Hayward missed what could have been the greatest shot in NCAA history
In the 2010 championship game, underdog Butler missed a last second shot at the buzzer that would have won the game. Planning and hard work got Butler to the brink of a championship, but there was no special magic that was going to make the shot go in. Coach Knight argues that Duke’s almost religious devotion to preparation put them in a better position to win.
5. Chris Webber Called A Timeout He Didn’t Have
Coach Knight prefers to think in terms of “if you don’t” rather than “if you do”. For example, if Chris Webber didn’t have a mental lapse in the closing seconds of the 1993 Championship Game, Michigan could have won the game. Identifying what you don’t want to do helps you minimize mistakes.
6. Jim Valvano’s NC State shocked the heavily favored Houston Cougars in 1983
Underdogs NC State weren’t intimidated by the Houston Cougars, a team that featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. NC State’s Dereck Whittenburg tossed an airball that was recovered and laid up by Lorenzo Charles as time expired.
7. In 2006, Texas snatched victory from the jaws of defeat
Coach Knight says that a positive thinker spends too much time enjoying small victories instead of quickly moving on to the next challenge. This was certainly true for West Virginia, who thought they’d won the game with a three-pointer with five seconds left and no timeouts. They forgot to quickly get back on defense and lost the game at the buzzer.
8. Rumeal Robinson sank two free throws to win the 1989 championship
Rumeal Robinson, a 64% free throw shooter, held the entire season in his hands at the end of the game. He calmly made both free throws. Earlier in the season he’d been in the same situation and missed both shots. He responded by adopting a daily regimen shooting hundreds of free throws a day. He was ready when it mattered most.
9. UConn went full court for a buzzer-beater in 1990
This amazing moment isn’t as famous as famous as Laettner’s shot, but it demonstrates the same Coach Knight principle: Most “Hail Mary” plays are built on fundamentals and execution.
10. Remember, not even slam dunks are a sure thing
If you think your slam dunk has a chance to pop out, you’ll throw it down even harder.