College basketball fans may have a love/hate relationship with the Duke Blue Devils, but there’s no doubting that the program is one of the most successful and influential of the past 20 years. On Sunday, March 11, at 8pm ET on truTV, former Duke standouts Christian Laettner and Grant Hill team up to present Duke ’91 & ’92: Back to Back, a documentary about Duke’s repeat NCAA championship seasons in 1991-92. The film also features teammates and coaches revealing never-before-told stories, including highlights from the team’s 20-year reunion.
Coming off the 1990 loss to UNLV in the championship game, some wondered if Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had what it takes to win a championship. But Duke would come back the following year to upset UNLV 79-77 in the Final Four, thanks to Laettner hitting clutch free throws in the final seconds to put Duke ahead. “I wasn’t nervous, I was excited for it. The only important part was that we had a chance,” Laettner says. Duke advanced to the championship game and beat Kansas 72-65. The players were flying high after the win, and they expected another championship. “We were good and we knew we were good. We thought we could beat some teams in the NBA,” Hill says. No team had repeated as national champions since UNLV had wrapped up seven straight titles in 1973.
One team that looked like it might stand in Duke’s way was Michigan, with its brash Fab Five who were capturing headlines. Duke had to travel to Michigan in December 1991, and came out of the game still undefeated. “Maybe they didn’t have enough humble in them yet, so we felt like maybe it was our responsibility to provide that for them,” says Bobby Hurley of the Fab Five.
In the 1992 NCAA Tournament, Duke faced Kentucky in the regional finals in what would be that tournament’s most memorable game. Kentucky took the lead with 2.1 seconds left. Grant Hill threw a long inbound pass to Laettner at the opponent’s free-throw line. Laettner turned and hit a jump shot as time expired and handed Duke the win. “I’d been training my whole life for that,” Laettner says. In the Final Four, Duke beat Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers 81-78 behind a remarkable performance by Hurley.
A rematch with Michigan’s Fab Five awaited Duke in the national championship game. “That first half against Michigan was probably — in the two years I played with Christian — his worst stretch of basketball,” Hill says of Laettner. Laettner had a sloppy first half and Michigan led at halftime. But Laettner picked it up in the second half and ignited his teammates, and Duke routed Michigan 71-51 to win their second straight national title.
The documentary wouldn’t be complete without at least some acknowledgment of “Duke hate.” “That seems to be like when it started,” Laettner recalls. “I’m a little responsible for that. We all own a little of that responsibility.” “When I do feel bad, I just go look at my two rings,” says Hill.
Interviews are extensive throughout the film, including Jerry Tarkanian, Shaquille O’Neal, Billy Packer, Jim Nantz, Bob Knight, Seth Davis and Gene Wojciechowski. Duke detractors will probably groan at all time the documentary spends on Laettner’s competitiveness or Krzyzewski’s coaching methods. And if you think Dick Vitale is annoying, there are plenty of the ESPN announcer’s calls on the soundtrack.
One can’t help but think that Hill may have been motivated a little by last year’s ESPN Fab Five documentary. Hill was an outspoken critic of some of the comments made in that documentary, and this film feels like not-so-subtle jab back at Jalen Rose and that Michigan team.
Press release from truTV below:
Turner Sports and Executive Producers Grant Hill and Christian Laettner
Debut DUKE 91 & 92: Back to Back on truTV
All-New Documentary Celebrating Duke’s Famed 1991 & 1992 NCAA Men’s Basketball
Championship Teams Set to Air on March 11 at 8:00pm ET
Former Duke All-Americans Grant Hill and Christian Laettner are teaming up with Turner Sports to offer viewers an inside look at one of the most-storied college basketball programs in the history of the game. The first-of-its-kind documentary for Turner Sports, DUKE 91 & 92: Back to Back will air on truTV on NCAA Selection Sunday, March 11, at 8:00 p.m. ET in advance of Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, which airs exclusively on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV. A first look at footage from the film is now available at http://www.ncaa.com/duke9192.
An hour-long documentary, DUKE 91 & 92: Back to Back will revisit 1991 and 1992, when the Blue Devils became the first school to win back-to-back National Championships in nearly 20 years highlighting the team’s journey to back-to-back titles. Key moments featured in the film include the upset win over the undefeated UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the 1991 Final Four®, Laettner’s buzzer-beating jump shot against Kentucky in the East Regional Final in 1992, the repeat national title win over the “Fab Five” of Michigan and the emotional and unforgettable 20-year reunion that took place where it all began – Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It offers viewers a unique perspective of those historic seasons by examining the key players, Hall of Fame coach and memorable moments from an era that helped set the stage for the school’s reign as college basketball’s most influential and successful program, on and off the court, of the last 20 years. Along with Hill and Laettner, DUKE 91 & 92: Back to Back includes interviews with former Duke Blue Devils Clay Buckley, Ron Burt, Marty Clark, Bobby Hurley, Greg Koubek and Erik Meek, filmed when they returned to Durham, N.C. in September 2011 on the eve of the Duke Hall of Fame Induction of point guard Bobby Hurley, the Most Outstanding Player of the 1992 Final Four®, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Other celebrated figures from the world of college basketball are also featured in the documentary, including legendary Duke head coach “Coach K,” former Indiana head coach Bob Knight, CBS Sports analysts Billy Packer, Jim Nantz and Seth Davis, former Kentucky forward Jamal Mashburn, former LSU center Shaquille O’Neal, former UNLV star Stacey Augmon and many others.
DUKE 91 & 92: Back to Back is produced and directed by Amy Unell and Madeleine Sackler. An Emmy® Award-nominated and former TODAY Show producer, Unell recently teamed up with Grant Hill to produce the documentary, Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buehler Story. Sackler, director of the acclaimed documentary The Lottery, was on the shortlist for the 2011 Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary.