Monthly Archives: April 2008

D’Antoni’s Duke Connection

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni (or, per SI.com, former Phoenix Suns head coach) works under Mike Krzyzewski on Team USA and had a major influence on this year’s Duke team. After a summer with D’Antoni, Krzyzewski incorporated some of the NBA coach’s innovative offensive techniques to allow Duke to spread the floor and maximize the talent of its wing players, most notably Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler. As The Charlotte Observer noted yesterday, Krzyzewski learned a good deal from his Team USA assistants and should consider bringing in an outside hire to fill Johnny Dawkins’ place on the bench; we assailed that argument, writing that “Krzyzewksi isn’t looking to add Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni or Nate McMillan to his staff.”

Well, if the reports are correct, then D’Antoni is available now. Would he be more attractive than Nate James, Chris Carrawell, Jason Williams, Chris Spatola or any of the other Duke-affiliated potential coaching suspects? Naturally. He’s a former NBA Coach of the Year and, as SI.com’s Jack McCallum writes, is “the man credited with reinvigorating fast-break basketball in a league gone stale.”

This is all in jest, of course. D’Antoni would never become a college assistant after being one of the best coaches in the professional ranks for years, not even for Krzyzewski. But it doesn’t hurt to aimlessly conjecture. Right?

–by Ben Cohen

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Who Will Replace Dawkins? Part II

Over at the Charlotte Observer, Ken Tysiac offers his opinion that Duke should try and replace former associate head coach Johnny Dawkins on the bench with an outsider. “Loyal though he is to his former players, Krzyzewski ought to resist the urge to hire any of them,” Tysiac writes. “He should hire somebody who doesn’t have connections to Duke.”

It doesn’t look likely that Krzyzewski will follow Tysiac’s advice, which revolves around the idea that Krzyzewski brought back different coaching philosophies from his experience with Team USA last summer, and the same could be a case with a fresh face on the sideline. Interesting concept, theoretically. An easy point of objection: Krzyzewksi isn’t looking to add Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni or Nate McMillan to his staff.

On Monday, we presented our list of best-bet candidates to replace Dawkins. For better or worse, we stand by that list, and we’ll add former Blue Devil Jason Williams to the longshot list. Just a hunch, though.

–by Ben Cohen

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Cutcliffe: Football and Fuqua

In a recent blog post about recruiting talent to companies, Wayne Wilson, principal of a business advisory services firm in Virginia, used a quote from head football coach David Cutcliffe as an epigraph. The post, titled “Do you have enough players on your team?” starts with this pearl from the affable and gregarious first-year coach:

“We’ve got enough football players to compete. If you can compete, you can win.”

Cutcliffe was talking about turning around Duke Football, of course; I’m not sure he had in mind the strategic practices of Fortune-500 (or even those of his own program, as I wrote about last fall). Still, if Wilson was able to make the correlation, perhaps Cutcliffe has a future as an faculty member at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, much like Mike Krzyzewski.

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Blue Devils Movin’ On Up

In his latest preseason college basketball rankings (that’s right, this isn’t the first), Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn ranked Duke No. 4 in the country, a step-up from his last poll, in which the Blue Devils were ninth. The only thing they have done in the time between polls is lose Taylor King to Villanova, but Winn writes that his mea culpa had more to do with his reevaluation of the team than anything else.

“It’s hard to argue that they’re not as legitimate of a Final Four contender as a few of the teams that were slotted ahead of them,” he writes. “Sophomore Kyle Singler and junior Gerald Henderson are the nation’s best pair of wings, and while the backcourt duo of Greg Paulus and Jon Scheyer aren’t exactly Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, they should score about 27 points per game combined and hit better than 40 percent of their threes, which isn’t bad.”

Is Duke correctly ranked at No. 4? Where should the Blue Devils be?

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The Man Who Would Replace K?

Before Johnny Dawkins could utter his first public words as Stanford’s new head coach, the Cardinal’s athletic director, Bob Bowlsby, stole the spotlight.

“Coach Krzyzewski said that Johnny was a likely successor to him,” Bowlsby said at the press conference, citing a recent conversation with Mike Krzyzewski.

Of course, the idea that Dawkins could be the man to replace Krzyzewski is not really breaking news. As his former associate head coach and right-hand man, Dawkins has long been rumored to be Krzyzewski’s successor. But this the first time Krzyzewski has publicly acknowledged who he wants his replacement to be.

There’s a caveat now, though. What happens if assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski bolts to take a head coaching job sometime soon and is more successful than Dawkins? What happens if Dawkins doesn’t enjoy the success he expects in Palo Alto? Does he still get the Duke job down the road?

This is all speculation, obviously, as Krzyzewski has said he has no plans of retiring anytime soon. But everyone loves to look into the crystal ball, which leads to the question: What do you think?

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Man of Steel

Defensive end Patrick Bailey didn’t hear his name called on either day of the 2008 NFL Draft. Instead, he signed a free-agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, after the last pick had been made. He heads to Steelers minicamp this weekend.

Bailey was arguably Duke’s best defensive player last season, ranking in the top 10 of the ACC in sacks and tackles for loss before his season was ended with an injury against Wake Forest in week 7.

I’ll never forget talking to Bailey after Duke secured its first win in two years at Northwestern this year. Minutes earlier, the Duke defense had conducted a goal-line stand against the Wildcats to earn the victory, and Bailey was in the middle of it all. In the locker room after the game, he still hadn’t caught his breath, and he was exhaling and laughing; he was the epitome of glee.

Sounds like Sunday may have been an even better day for him.

–by Ben Cohen

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Degrees of Joe Alleva

One of the more overlooked aspects of men’s basketball associate head coach Johnny Dawkins’ taking the head coaching position at Stanford is how the whole process began: with former Director of Athletics Joe Alleva, of course.

  • Alleva became LSU’s new athletic director April 4.
  • Alleva hired former Stanford head coach Trent Johnson April 9.
  • Stanford hired Dawkins Saturday.

One final twist: 2008 recruit Miles Plumlee, brother of Duke 2009 commit Mason Plumlee, received a release from his Letter of Intent to Stanford after Johnson left. Now that Dawkins, a potentially familiar face, is at the helm of the program, will Plumlee re-sign his LOI? Will he precede his brother at Duke? Or will he go somewhere else?

What do you think?

–by Ben Cohen

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