Mike Krzyzewski vows to prowl Duke sidelines next 5 years
Duke’s basketball team lacked consistent on-court leadership this season and Mike Krzyzewski plans to fix that and anything else the Blue Devils need for next season and at least four more seasons after that.
During an hour-long meeting with reporters on campus Wednesday, Krzyzewski discussed his Blue Devils program that is still reeling from last Friday’s 78-71 NCAA Tournament loss to Mercer.
Within that, he put the team’s 26-9 season in perspective of the last 15 years of Duke basketball and he said he is planning for how he’ll run the program for the next five seasons.
“I’m looking forward to the next five years,” Krzyzewski said. “What do we do in the next five, not just what do we do next season. What are the decisions? The first thing is I look at me. I’m going to be here.”
The 67-year-old Hall of Famer, whose 983 wins are the most for any Division I men’s basketball coach, is committed to coaching USA Basketball in the World Cup this summer in Spain and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had always said he wouldn’t coach USA Basketball while not remaining an active head coach at Duke.
But Wednesday was the first time he spoke publicly about coaching beyond the 2016 college basketball season. Krzyzewski will turn 70 in February 2017.
“This past year I had a few setbacks and I had an episode with health at the Wake game. I wanted to clear the air that I’m good,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m going forward.”
Looking back over the last 15 seasons, starting in 1999-2000, Krzyzewski broke down results in five-year increments. The first segment included the 2001 NCAA championship and the 2004 Final Four.
The second five years saw no Final Four appearances and Krzyzewski said the only team that had a chance to win it all was the 2006 team when J.J. Redick was a senior.
Over the last five years, Duke won the 2010 NCAA championship, followed by a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011 and the run to the Elite Eight in 2013.
But two seasons with no NCAA Tournament wins were mixed in there, the 2012 team that was upset by Lehigh and this year’s team which lost to Mercer.
All that said, Kzyzewski feels the program has been successful as a whole.
“I try not to look at how we run our program in one-year periods or based on one game, whether that means you’ve won the national championship or you got eliminated like we did this year,” Krzyzewski said. “I really don’t think that’s the way to run a program.”
The common thread he has found in looking back over the 15 years is that on-court leadership was strongest in the years where Duke accomplished the most. He mentioned Shane Battier in 2001, Chris Duhon in 2004 and Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek in 2010 as good examples.
But this season’s Blue Devils, he said, lacked that component. The coaches managed the situation all season but the result was a team that played really well in some games but poorly during critical stretches of others.
“Yes we could play defense better, but fundamentally the thing that we missed was on court leadership play after play,” Krzyzewski said.
He added that it’s his responsibility to fix that problem and he and the coaching staff are already discussing different ways to cultivate leadership for future Duke teams, starting with next season.
The question of who will be on next year’s team is up in the air.
Freshman Jabari Parker, the 6-8 first-team all-American, and second-team all-ACC player Rodney Hood are mulling whether or not to enter the NBA Draft.
Krzyzewski said no decision has been made by either player. Parker is projected as a top-five pick, while Hood is considered a middle of the first round selection.
The expectation is that both will leave Duke after playing just one season with the Blue Devils although neither has informed the coaching staff of a decision.
“Jabari is in a great position for his future,” Krzyzewski said. “So that would be a big-time decision not to go because he’s going to be one of the top picks.”
Krzyzewski agreed that Hood is likely to be a first-round pick, but added, “It’s not about being a first-round pick to me because you can get washed outta there real quick.”
Ultimately, Krzyzewski said, it’s up to the players and their families to make the choice. He said Duke will be able to handle it either way.
Duke has more highly talented freshmen coming in next season, led by 6-10 center Jahlil Okafor whom Krzyzewski described as being a special talent. Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones are considered possible one-and-done players like Parker.
While having such players makes leadership and team unity tougher, Krzyzewski said that won’t stop him from recruiting those type of players because they are the top available talent.