Mike Krzyzewski Is Starting To Lose It Like Bobby Knight Did: Is It Retirement Time?
As you likely know by now, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has imposed double-secret probation on the Blue Devils -- banning them from the locker room and forbidding the wearing of Duke gear around campus. The sky is falling because Duke has lost three of its past four games, after being picked to win the national title in the preseason.
To make Krzyzewski crankier, he's been sidelined with back issues, and an assistant is coaching the games. Whether that's real back trouble like the Warriors' Steve Kerr recently suffered, or just an excuse to distance himself from losing, is a mystery. What is known is that Luke Walton is not around to help.
An ESPN "source":
"He wasn't happy," said one source close to the situation. "Especially after the loss to NC State."
Asked how long the penalties would last, a source close to the program said: "Until they start living up to the standards of the Duke program."
In other words, winning.
Krzyzewski, 69, is a great coach. He comes from a tradition where fundamentals are literally drilled into players, where ultra-disciplinarians such as Hank Iba, Pete Carrill and Bobby Knight, the latter for whom Krzyzewski played for at Army, taught footwork and man-to-man defense and ball movement and taking the charge above all else. It was the school of break-you-down-to-build-you-up coaching, modeled on Army basic training. Think Gene Hackman in Hoosiers and you get the idea.
Plug in even a modest degree of talent with this kind of coaching and you almost always get results. Iba had an overall coaching record of 755–340, including 23 seasons at Oklahoma A&M, where he won two national titles. He also won two Olympic gold medals and a controversial silver (in 1972). Knight won three national titles at Indiana, and is still considered possibly the best x's and o's coach of all time.
Other coaches such as Larry Brown, Doug Collins and Don Haskins are from that coaching tree. As is Krzyzewski, now the winningest Div. I college coach of all time (1,056–323).
But as often happens with dictatorships, all that power can go to your head. Krzyzeweski has been at Duke since 1980, and the cracks are beginning to show. The recent Grayson Allen incident is a good example, as the Blue Devils' player was suspended by Krzyzewski for only one game after a series of tripping incidents earlier this season.
Allen apparently learned nothing from this, having been involved in at least three aggressive incidents since the suspension, among them pushing an assistant coach.
But then Duke loses three of four games, and Krzyzewski goes off like a volcano. That shows a man who is not really worried about playing the game the right way, as Iba always taught, or building character. It just shows a coach who wants to win.
Similar though more severe cracks began showing with Knight late in his career. He was suspended at Indiana after a 1997 choking incident with player Neil Reed, and then fired in 2000 after grabbing a student by the arm whom he thought was being disrespectful.
Krzyzewski may have reached the end of the line: he seems to me to be going loco. He needs a long nap on a tropical island, or I fear he's going to implode in an embarrassing and spectacular way.
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