Coach K says his struggles dealing with his brother’s death reason for Duke slump

Leave a comment

Virginia came so close to pulling off a miraculous comeback against Duke on Monday night, but on this night in Cameron, the miracle was on Duke’s side.

Rasheed Sulaimon had a three bounce off the back of the rim, above the back board and in with 20 seconds left, giving Duke the lead for good.

That said, Duke’s issues were readily evident once again, but in the press conference after the game, Mike Krzyzewski took the blame for that.

“We haven’t been at our best since the start of conference, and I haven’t been at my best since Christmas. That’s my responsibility,” Coach K told reporters after the game. His brother passed away on December 26th. “We were there tonight, and we were collectively together tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks. It was my responsibility that we weren’t as much as we should have. But today we were.”

“I got knocked back right after Christmas. And I’ve been knocked back for a couple of weeks. It’s on me, not on my team. So what we have been doing, to me, doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. It’s on me. What we will be doing, that will be on all of us. Today is on all of us. Win or lose. We’re all in today. That’s the way it is.”

This was something that Jay Bilas alluded to on ESPN’s broadcast as well, that the death of his brother had really rocked Coach K. It’s a new angle, one I hadn’t heard mentioned until today. Coach K isn’t the kind of guy that is going to use his brother’s passing as a way to excuse poor play from his team, so it will be interesting to see how Duke progresses as their head coach continues to work his way through the grieving process.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Leave a comment

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?