Mike Krzyzewski

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Duke and Krzyzewski have “a decision” to make as injuries linger

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Duke missed the production of veterans Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson on Saturday in its 55-50 loss to Miami, the Blue Devils’ second-straight loss after falling to Syracuse earlier in the week. It also missed their influence on the offensive end.

Allen missed the game with an ankle injury while the foot problem that sidelined Jefferson for a pair of games in January continues to be an issue and limited to minor second-half minutes Saturday. Without the pair, Duke shot 31.8 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers against the Hurricanes.

We need those guys to calm people down on the offensive end,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “The continuity on the offensive end is not up to par with the defense.”

Both players will be re-evaluated before Tuesday’s home contest against Florida State, but Jefferson’s injury would appear to be the most concerning given it has lingered for well over a month now.

“I’ve got to make a decision with Amile,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s not running. He is not running at all.”

Duke could likely make it work in the short term if it was short just one of the Allen-Jefferson duo, but without both it stresses the ballhandling, playmaking and inexperienced frontcourt all at the same time. Luke Kennard was the only Blue Devil to crack double figures scoring against the ‘Canes while freshmen Marques Bolden and Harry Giles, who both have had their injury issues, were relatively ineffective in player fewer than 20 minutes apiece. Both Kennard and Jayson Tatum played a full 40.

At the start of the season, Duke had the look of a juggernaut, but given the multitude of issues they’ve faced seemingly from the jump, it has a bit of a slog with only a seven-game winning streak to have eased their pain all year.

What made the Blue Devils look so formidable before the season was their sheer level of talent. With Allen and Jefferson ailing, the move for Krzyzewski might be to just bet on that talent in the NCAA tournament rather than jockey for seeding position. He could keep Jefferson and Allen on the shelf as they heal, give Giles and Bolden a ton of run and then just make a go of it in the Big Dance, betting on the talent overcoming the inconsistency of the season.

Like Krzyzewski said about Jefferson, he’s got a decision to make.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to have surgery

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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will miss an undetermined number of games as he is scheduled to undergo lower back surgery.

The procedure will remove a fragment of a herniated disk, and the expected recovery time is four weeks. He will coach Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech before current associate head coach and former Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel will step in as the interim coach, beginning with Jan. 7th’s game against Boston College. Capel also filled in for Coach K last season when he missed a game against Georgia Tech.

Capel was the point guard for Duke in 1995, when Coach K was forced to missed the second half of the season due to complications from a different back surgery. The Blue Devils went 13-18 that season.

“Dr. William Richardson, Dr. Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks,” said Krzyzewski. “Together, we have determined that surgery is the best course of action at this time. During my recovery process, the team will be in the capable hands of Coach Capel, Coach James and Coach Scheyer. As soon as the doctors clear me to do so, I look forward to returning and giving our team 100% of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve.”

This is yet another twist in what has been a weird year for the Blue Devils. It started with Duke landing one of the nation’s best recruiting classes before watching all three of their highly-touted newcomers – Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Marques Bolden – miss the start of the season through injury.

After Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson carried the team to terrific start in their absence, the Blue Devils struggled against Elon and Tennessee State before Christmas and followed that up by getting pasted in their ACC opener at Virginia Tech over the weekend.

They are also still dealing with the fallout of Grayson Allen’s latest tripping incident. Allen is still indefinitely suspended from competition, and that is just the beginning of what is currently ailing Duke.

Duke’s season is at a crossroads. For a team that looked to be the heavy favorite to win the title as recently as Dec. 10th, this has been quite the turn of events.

VIDEO: Tearful Grayson Allen apologizes for another trip

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While what will happen to Grayson Allen following his third tripping incident in a year remains to be seen, the Duke junior owned up to the mistake immediately following the Blue Devils’ win over Elon.

“I made a really bad play. I’m sorry to him, (Steven) Santa Ana. I’m sorry to the officials who have to call that. I’m sorry to my team because it’s selfish and taking away from them.

“I’m not proud of it at all.”

The mea culpa certainly appears sincere, and Allen deserves credit for taking ownership of his mistake. It’s something, though, he’s done in the past after such incidents and why many, including me, have called for a suspension for Allen with the reckless on-court behavior not changing despite the public proclamations of regret.

“I handle things the way I handle them,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game, “and I think I’ve handled this correctly, and moving forward I will continue to handle it correctly, and I don’t need to satisfy what other people think I should do.”

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”

Coach K calls North Carolina’s HB2 “embarrassing”

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Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had short but strong words about the North Carolina bill HB2 that cost Duke a home opponent, has thrown the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte into jeopardy and has sparked outcry from around the country.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Krzyzewski told USA TODAY of the bill that requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender listed on their birth certificate. The state is currently locked in a legal battle over the bill after the Department of Justice deemed in in violation of the Civil Rights Act.

“That’s all I’m going to say about it,” Krzyzewski said while at USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas.

The Blue Devils’ scheduled November matchup with Albany in Durham was cancelled due to New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that bars non-essential state travel to North Carolina in response to HB2. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has threatened to move the league’s 2017 All-Star weekend if the bill remains.

Another coach from within the state shared Krzyzewski’s sentiment.

“I’m against any law that allows discrimination, whether that’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried told USA TODAY. “I don’t understand how someone can support this. I think the people at N.C. State, we believe in inclusion. Being a resident of the state, for me and my family, it’s been frustrating.”

Retirement not on Krzyzewski’s radar at Duke

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski says he isn’t even thinking about the end of his Hall of Fame coaching career.

Krzyzewski spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since a pair of offseason surgeries and said, “I don’t have plans for the future” and that “I don’t have a retirement thing.”

The 69-year-old coach has dealt with some health issues during the past few months. He had knee replacement surgery on his left knee in April and had inguinal hernia surgery last month.

He also missed Duke’s game at Georgia Tech last January because of a sudden illness that briefly had him hospitalized in the cardiac ward of the university’s hospital.

Krzyzewski says he’s “doing great” and actually feels younger after “getting these things done.”