You would think with the winningest men’s basketball coach in Division 1 history, who has been a part of the game for over 40 years and established a program that is the creme de la creme, would soak up the moment during his farewell tour. That isnt the case for Mike Krzyzewski, who told us Tuesday he’s living in the moment.
“I told myself and my staff not to use the word last. This is my 47th year coaching. 42nd at Duke. Im approaching this year as I would approach any other. As soon as you start to say the word savor, you open the door for rationalization”
Coach K was alluding to vulnerability, which in this sport is seen as a weakness. Duke, who missed the tournament for the first time last season in over two decades, had the same sentiments….There is no pressure.
During Tuesday’s media availability each coach and player was asked if there is pressure to perform at the highest degree to bring it home for Coach K? Every coach and player, which included Nolan Smith, Chris Carawell, Paolo Banchero, Mark Williams, Joey Baker, and Jeremy Roach, all shared the same belief – “We came to Duke for this moment. There is no pressure.”
Defense. Defense. Defense.
On defense and inefficiencies of last season; Mark Williams, Theo John and Jeremy Roach are all ready to compete on the defensive end. Duke point guards are often known for pesky defense, full court and in your face for 90 feet. “It starts and ends with me on the defensive end,” Roach said when asked about the need for increased defensive intensity. “Defense was a struggle for us last year, so we made it a point to focus on that this year.”
The Year of the Transfer
Marquette transfer Theo John, who was brought in to add toughness and physicality to the Blue Devils, said there won’t be any softness this season. “We aint haven’t any of that this year. I look forward to bringing a level of intensity. Just tune in. It’s going to be fun year,” John stated with a grim reaper smile.
Today we got a small sample size of what is to come from this Duke season. It starts and ends with defense, which will naturally spark the offense. The talent is there. The chemistry, according to the players, is there. There is senior leadership and veterans on the team who will help mold a squad come tournament play. Coach K had that spark in his eye to do something magical on his way out. The players believe in him and that’s why they came to Duke. One purpose. Winning a championship.