Mike Krzyzewski has never been afraid to challenge local media, which very much includes The Chronicle, especially when he reads criticism of his team–and, of course, he has every right to defend himself, just as every journalist has every right to write freely. In years past, however, The Chronicle has been one of the most analytic and vocal of newspapers, which was never more evident on three days last March.
When Duke lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to West Virginia last year, now-graduated sports columnist Andrew Yaffe wrote an opinion piece contradicting Krzyzewski’s press conference claim that the Blue Devils had enjoyed a “great” season. The tenet of the column was that great teams don’t lose five of their last 11 games or fail to make it past the first weekend of the Tournament, and that saying last season was “great” does a “disservice” to the truly sublime Duke teams of the past.
The column was a fair, honest assessment of the year that was, even though Yaffe, a member of one of two Duke classes to graduate without a Final Four since the Class of 1986, caught flak from the sense of entitlement that ran through the piece. “I certainly appreciate the effort the team put forth Saturday and don’t doubt DeMarcus Nelson was trying his damndest,” he wrote. “But Duke students don’t sleep in the cold for two months just to see players give it their all. Expectations can and should be high, and they were not fulfilled this year or last.”
The column’s sentiments were amplified the next day by editorial (read: non-sports) columnist Dan Belzer, who wrote on the back pages: “I don’t know about y’all, but I was under the impression that part of my birthright as a privileged Duke student was a men’s basketball national championship-or at least a Final Four. You really think I came here for the academics?” It had none of the accuracy or validity of Yaffe’s piece, and, of course, was a lesser derivative of the previous piece. Those two pieces, especially combined with editorial (read: non-sports) columnist Tom Segal’s further cretinous rant the very next day, did not sit well with the Duke Basketball office, which may have accepted Yaffe’s column as critical but somewhat indisputable and honest but could not find the same merit in the last two offerings.
Which brings us to Wednesday, when Krzyzewski showed, yet again, that he doesn’t forget anything and, at least occasionally, reads The Chronicle for non-Sudoku purposes:
What do you think? Were Krzyzewski’s points valid?
–by Ben Cohen