GENEVA — While many members of the working media toiled in Beijing, I watched Team USA’s 101-70 romp over China Sunday afternoon at Mr. Pickwick’s Pub here in Switzerland, a country with a decidedly sparse basketball history. I’m here for six weeks on a study abroad program, but wasn’t going to miss Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA’s opening game, so a group of six Dukies (including me) trekked to this English-speaking bar, which showed Eurosport’s coverage of the game on about six televisions. We chose a large table with a view of the big-screen projector about 30 seconds before Dwight Howard and Yao Ming jumped for the opening tip.
There is plenty of vitriol for U.S. basketball analysts floating around the Internet, but almost every play-by-play or color announcer would be better than Eurosport’s team, which sounded like it was transported directly from a soccer stadium and given a print-out of Wikipedia’s basketball entry. The language was bulky and acumen of the game was akin to a fifth-grader in the Triangle, but, more than anything, the repeated botching of players’ names was frustrating. Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard were mistaken for Carlos Boozer multiple times, even though the former Duke star didn’t play much until garbage time, and one time, the play-by-play man referred to Deron Williams as “Der-EEN.”
It was certainly interesting, though, to hear and see the depiction of Krzyzewski here in Europe. Granted, we didn’t see the introduction of starting lineups, but I didn’t hear a reference to Krzyzewski as Duke’s coach–not even one. Moreover, assistant coach Jim Boeheim was referred to as Syracuse’s coach, and the announcers might have mentioned his name more than Krzyzewski’s–that is, when they weren’t mispronouncing Coach K’s last name. Perhaps it was different in the United States or even in China, but at least for right now, it seems that Krzyzewski’s implicit connection with Duke might not be as stressed as I previously thought.
I’ll try to get back to Pickwick’s Tuesday, when the Americans play Angola, and offer another report on across-the-pond depictions of Team USA and Krzyzewski, both from bargoers and media members.
–by Ben Cohen