Thursday, July 08, 2004

Maybe this is why Duke players make awful pros

In an article in The New Republic Online, Jason Zengerle discusses what an integral part of the Duke University experience (the entire campus life, not just basketball) Mike Krzyzewski has become. But as I have suspected for some time now, Coach K and his minions do some things that most might consider odd. For example:

"...While it's true that Krzyzewski runs a clean program -- his players stay out of trouble, they go to class, they aren't paid under the table -- he's hardly an angel. Although Krzyzewski is always happy to field softballs from Dick Vitale, he rarely grants less obsequious journalists an audience and when he does, he gives them clipped, testy answers. He's even harder on student journalists. In 1990, angered by a mid-season report card issued by Duke's student newspaper that gave his team a B-plus, Krzyzewski summoned the student journalists to a meeting and, in front of his players, cursed out the students for not giving the team straight As.

Krzyzewski is similarly abusive to referees, constantly berating them -- usually in florid language -- for their apparent shortcomings. In March, after his team blew an 11-point lead to lose to Connecticut in the Final Four, Krzyzewski barked over and over at the refs, "You killed us, you killed us." A favorite pastime for Duke detractors is to count how many times each game Coach K is caught on camera dropping, as they call them, "F-bombs."
The on-the-court cursing is almost acceptable when you consider that Coach K called in some 20-year old trust-funder to rip them a new one about passing out grades of B+ (gasp!). I'm sure that Hurley and Laettner have that B+ still pasted to their respective fridges.

And while you can't question his results, if you're a high school All-American with professional aspirations (and aren't opting to go straight to the NBA), you have to wonder why more Duke players aren't successful in the NBA. Maybe having a coach that yells at a student journalist for giving his team a B+ might have something to do with it (I'm guessing it has more to do with recruiting players that fit well into his system, but they may not have the individual skills that translate into professional success, but I like the B+ explanation better).