Mike Krzyzewski

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 16:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils walks off the court after losing to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 75-70 during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 16, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to have surgery

4 Comments

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

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski hugs Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils after he fouled out against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during their 84-79 overtime loss during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
5 Comments

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

Leave a comment

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”

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2016, file photo, Duke head men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, second from right,  reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have lost three straight games entering Saturday’s game at North Carolina State followed by Monday’s game at No. 15 Miami. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)
4 Comments

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

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski flashes a thumbs up against North Carolina-Wilmington in the first half during the first round of the NCAA college men's basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
3 Comments

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.”

No. 1 Oregon beats Duke, advances to first Elite Eight since 2007

Duke guard Brandon Ingram shoots between Oregon forward Jordan Bell, right, and forward Dillon Brooks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
10 Comments

The first weekend of the NCAA tournament wasn’t particularly kind to the Pac-12, as six of their seven entrants were eliminated. The lone team standing was Oregon, the top seed in the West and the best team the Pac-12 had to offer. Dana Altman’s team has the athleticism and versatility needed to make its way to Houston, and Thursday night those attributes along with the team’s willingness to pass the ball was on display in their 82-68 win over No. 4 Duke.

Dillon Brooks led five Ducks in double figures with 22 points while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out six assists, and as a team Oregon assisted on 22 of its 38 made field goals. Oregon can attack teams in a variety of ways offensively thanks to the versatility of players such as Brooks, Elgin Cook and Tyler Dorsey, and if not for a number of missed dunks the margin Thursday night would have been worse.

Duke’s had issues defensively due in large part to their lack of depth, which makes it difficult to shift strategies when one approach isn’t working. Duke went zone for part of the second half, and Oregon managed to find quality looks though sound ball movement and player movement off the basketball.

Oregon finished the game shooting 49.2 percent from the field, but they were much better on that end of the floor in the game’s final 20 minutes.

And of all the offensive options at Altman’s disposal the one who doesn’t receive enough credit is sophomore point guard Casey Benson, whose improvement throughout the season has been a key for Oregon. Almost deferential to a fault when it came to taking open shots at the start of the year, Benson’s been better as the season’s progressed at picking his spots while continuing to distribute the ball in an efficient manner.

Against Duke, Benson finished with 11 points, eight assists and just one turnover. That one turnover raised Benson’s total for the season to 23, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is a very good 4.65:1. The injured Dylan Ennis was expected to be the man at the point when the season began, but the play of Benson has ensured that Oregon did not miss a beat this season.

Oregon has an eight-man rotation that appears to be even deeper thanks to their versatility, and against Duke the Ducks took advantage of that throughout the night. The offense was good but so was the defense, with Jordan Bell (13 points, seven rebounds and four blocks) and Chris Boucher serving as deterrents at the rim and the changes between man and a matchup zone keeping the Blue Devils off balance.

They’ll need a similar effort against Oklahoma Saturday, but there should be no more questions as to whether or not Oregon’s capable.