Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:27 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:14 pm
By Matt Norlander
Crazy as it may seem, Coach K doesn't always get his way. And when he was a young pup trying to build up a program, he frequently fell short when trying to get blue-chip recruits to Durham. If it weren't for one man, Krzyzewski wouldn't have made it to a fourth year as Duke coach.
Of all the recruits K misfired on, Michael Jordan is the most famous. And after 23 picked UNC just a few days before Halloween in 1980, Krzyzewski sat down and punched out a 65-word letter of regret to the lanky kid who would go on to change the way the world viewed and cared about basketball. By the way, this was K's first season as head coach in Durham.
This is the third artifact related to MJ's recruitment to get some pub on the Internet this week. Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg dedicated a post Thursday to Jordan's signed Letter of Intent and Dean Smith's recruiting letters to Jordan 32 years ago. A hat tip is in order to Sporting News' Chris Littmann, who alerted me to the letter on Twitter after he noticed Josh Benedek of Jordan Brand PR Instagram out the photo. Who knows, maybe the Jordan Brand is preparing to do some promo work or a retrospective on the fertilization of its namesake's career. The letter is currently housed at North Carolina's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Coach K's letter to Jordan starts with a heck of a line, filled with a guilt trip and what I think is a backhanded, minor, insult (maybe it's just standard fare on rejection letters, though), before he goes on to wish the young player luck in Chapel Hill. Cool little piece of history, the discarded decisions along the way to UNC and Duke history.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:14 am
By Matt Norlander
From our Rapid Reports last night (and if you're wondering what Rapid Reports are, click here), Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski offered up an interesting quote about conference realignment and the somewhat unstable marriages of college and the NCAA.
Many believe the big schools will one day shuffle away from the NCAA, once they have the money (read: power) to do so. When arguably the greatest coach in the history of the sport is talking like that's a possibility, the NCAA has a problem.
Today is ACC media day. I'm sure K may get asked about this once or twice.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 1:53 pm
By Matt Norlander
Audio's at the bottom of the post, if you'd like to hop right to it. Frankly, I don't see how this isn't John Calipari lobbing a grenade the way of Mike Krzyzewski.
Calipari was on Memphia-area radio Thursday morning morning, a guest for "Sportstime with George Lapides," on Sports 56 WHBQ.
Before the knock at K came, Calipari was waxing -- which he's been prone to do as of late -- on the state of collegiate athletics, what's wrong, what can be fixed, etc. The man has many ideas, some of which do make a lot of sense. But his stream-of-consciousness suddenly took an abrupt turn when, while talking about the problems of college basketball spanning over two semesters, while football is just one, he then moved on to the NCAA needing an outside board with subpoena power.
And then the thinly veiled shot on Krzyzewski being Teflon to phone-call rules came whizzing by.
"Start a clean slate," Calipari said. "Police each other, give it to league commissioners and schools to deal with. If it goes beyond that, there's a board there that's ready to deal with it. ... You've got coaches being fired over phone calls and text messages. Some. Other guys can make phone calls and it's not that big a deal."
There's a kaboom.
If you've spent the past few weeks on vacation, Calipari is referring to our initial report, wherein a top prospect admitted he talked to Krzyzewski during the July recruiting period. Duke is now working with the NCAA to decipher if a violation occurred, and if so, a minor punishment would likely ensue.
Calipari, for the record, has never publicly been dinged for a phone-call or text-message violation -- though it was reported he did have a former assistant break such rules while at Memphis and in his first year at UK.
Cal knocks K
Posted on: June 2, 2011 12:39 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
After a season in which the starting rotation was pretty much a foregone conclusion (barring Kyrie Irving's toe injury), it's odd to hear Mike Krzyzewski say that he's not entirely certain about which players will fill roles in his system next season. Not only that, but he's not entirely certain what that system will be, according to the Charlotte Observer.
There's little doubt that Duke has a very talented roster, but lacks a clear leadership structure. Overseas trips are beneficial for teams attempting to gel for many reasons, the primary plus being that the NCAA allows for early practice sessions that would not otherwise be permitted. Miles Plumlee will have time to figure out some of the tricks of senior leadership, and Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins will have time to adjust to the arrival of Austin Rivers and four other top recruits who will bear much of the onus of keeping the Blue Devil train on track.
This could be a tough year for Duke, but don't bet against Coach K with this much extra time on his side.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: January 19, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 4:38 pm
Immediately however the reaction poured in around the Big Blue Nation. UK message boards and blogs lit up with fans embarrassed at Calipari’s comments and some expressed shock that their beloved coach would ever say such a thing on national television. Perhaps sensing the impending blowup (because in the mega-spotlight that is UK basketball, every story is a big story), Calipari tweeted out an apology and asked forgiveness from the UK faithful.
While I can understand the sentiments behind Calipari’s apology, I must admit that I don’t understand what all the fuss is truly about. One can surely criticize the coach for using bad discretion and choosing to curse so openly in a game where all of his actions will be picked up by a national television audience. But for those that are shocked that he would say such a comment to a player, I have but one little dirty secret to impart. Not only is Calipari’s comment not shocking to me, it is actually rather commonplace, and dare I say, mundane for the world of college basketball.
You, oh naïve college basketball fan, may not realize this, but nearly every great coach in America also uses bad language to such a degree that their practices or locker room speeches would receive an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Spend any amount of time around the teams when Jim Calhoun, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Rick Pitino, etc are coaching and you will be inundated with cursing to such a degree that it would cause Daniel Tosh to blush. Cursing and coaching go hand in hand, from the high school to the professional level, and it is so commonplace that one would almost think it was taught (along with the art of building up your next opponent in the press to downplay expectations) in head coach training schools.
Almost no one is immune. In fact, if I were to rate the most outlandish cursing coach in America, It would also be the one most often celebrated as the best coach in college basketball, Mike Krzyzewski. For three years, I sat in the graduate student section of Cameron Indoor and heard Coach K spew out more expletives than you would get via a weekend voyage on the U.S.S Nimitz. His mouth was legendary and the bile that came from it was aimed equally at his players and the referees he slowly intimidated during the course of a game. If the F.C.C could regulate the words of coaches, Coach K would be its Bubba the Love Sponge.
If you are offended by the words of Calipari or any other coach in college basketball (don’t even get me started on the mouths of college football coaches), then maybe it’s time you start following some other pastime. College basketball coaches are foul-mouthed Neanderthals who believe the best way to express a complicated thought is through yelling four-letter words at the top of their lungs. Yes it’s stupid and yes it’s demeaning. But it’s also the culture of athletics and in that world, Calipari’s comments on Tuesday night are far from abnormal.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 2:26 pm
Posted by MATT JONES
I am talking about the rest of the college basketball world, who either actively despises Duke or, among the more genteel fans, simply enjoys watching the Blue Devils squirm. For those folks, games like Wednesday night’s loss to Florida State are a lot of fun.
In college basketball, Duke is without question the hall monitor. With the exception of Kyrie Irving (who is now hurt), there isn’t a Duke player on the roster who would be considered one of the “cool” kids anywhere outside of New Jersey and some parts of upstate New York. All of Duke’s players have appropriate haircuts, say “yes sir, no sir” and occasionally even help old ladies across the street. They have all the swagger of Mark O’Meara , combined with the street cred of Glenn Beck. Coach K complains to the refs incessantly and the players always seem incredulous at the mere thought they could have committed a foul. When other players engage in any action that is not basketball the “Duke way” (such as oh, I don’t know … being interesting), K and the players go running to the principal, tattling and threatening to tell their NCAA sugar daddies. It can all be a bit much.
That is of course combined with the continued reality of every announcer, pundit or writer falling all over herself to let us know that Coach K does things “the right way” and that the players put the word “student” into “student-athlete.” To watch a Duke game is to be berated into accepting that you have drifted upon a set of players that are a physical embodiment of a mix between Oscar Robertson and Socrates , with the occasional floor slap mixed in. To those that pontificate on basketball, Duke is what A.J. Leibling’s “Sweet Science” is to books about sports, a dash of exquisite college basketball literature in a world of mediocrity and drivel.
It can all be a bit much. But when Duke loses … well those of us in the unwashed masses have something to celebrate. The “know-it-all” at the back of the classroom asking if more homework is going to be assigned or if the NCAA can crack down on this bully who is trying to recruit my players, gets his comeuppance in the most profound way. And then, when that loss comes from a team that is actually a football school and sees basketball as a hobby instead of a way of life…well that is even more grand.
Such a game happens every season. Nearly every year, Duke goes into some ACC team’s home arena, usually Florida State or Virginia Tech, puts their arms around each other in a little-too-tight huddle, sprints to Coach K’s every beckon call and looks terrified of the big, bruising bodies that are taking over and rudely beating them at their own game. Then as the minutes wind down, Coach K goes from cursing at the referees to inner acceptance of his fate and the players hit the one great moment where they no longer believe they will win and realize that for the first time, life is truly not fair. I love that moment every year and if you are honest, so do you.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 2:17 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2010 4:05 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
Nobody's happy that Kyrie Irving may be out for the rest of the season. OK, nobody outside of Chapel Hill. College basketball thrives on electric players like John Wall and Kyrie Irving, and the more of them we have, the better for everyone who loves this game.
Nonetheless, I feel it's important to note that this Andre Dawkins fella is no slouch, either. Not only is he a good player, but once upon a time, he saved Duke basketball.
That's how it was billed when Dawkins busted his butt to graduate high school and join the Blue Devils a year early. The sophomore from Chesapeake, VA was supposed to be a freshman this year, but he re-classified in a hurry when Elliot Williams elected to transfer to Memphis. In a June 2009 column, Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News wrote about how desperate the situation looked for the Devils at the time.
When sophomore guard Elliot Williams announced he was transferring back home to Memphis to be closer to an ailing family member, it appeared Duke would need to rely on walk-ons -- or maybe a refugee from the Cameron Crazies -- to have any backcourt depth.It all seems rather dire in retrospect, doesn't it? We know today that those shaky Blue Devils went on to win a national title, with Dawkins contributing 4.4 ppg and shooting 37 percent from behind the arc as a role player. I don't have a Wayback Machine or a wish to play God, so I can't say for certain that Duke wouldn't have made it to the championship game without him, but a lack of guard depth is often the death knell for a tourney hopeful.
What I can say is that Dawkins played in 38 games for that team of destiny, scoring in double figures in six non-conference games. Sure, his minutes dwindled to almost nothing by the end of ACC play, but he logged 13 minutes and 6 points during Duke's battle with Baylor in the Elite Eight. He did all of that as a shooting guard, then put in the work over the summer to improve his handle despite the almost certain knowledge that he'd be squeezed for time alongside Irving and Liberty transfer Seth Curry. He rode out an uncertain situation instead of transferring in search of playing time, and already boasts seven double-figure games, a better than 2/1 assist to turnover ratio, and a deep shooting mark of 53.6 percent. Against all odds, he's becoming a star on a team full of stars.
He has a national title ring and a shot at leading his team to another in the New Year. Not too shabby for a guy who was a last-minute substitute as a freshman.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE