On Coach K, Relief and Chronicle Columns

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

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2 Comments

Filed under Chronicle Coverage, Men's Basketball

2 responses to “On Coach K, Relief and Chronicle Columns

  1. Kayla Medeiros

    Yaffe, Belzer & Segal were right on in their columns, all refreshing breaths of fresh air compared to Coach K sugar-coating his woeful preparation and his team’s pathetic performance in late February and March. Duke fell from a #2 national ranking with a sub-.500 record in the season’s last several weeks, and gave miserable showings in the last regular season game vs UNC, the ACC tournament & the NCAAs. It was both a horrendous collapse, choke, etc. and graphically demonstrated the team’s total lack of energy and cohesiveness at the most critical part of the season. GREAT JOB, CHRONICLE AND SHAME ON YOU COACH K FOR GETTING OVERLY DEFENSIVE ABOUT IT, AND FOR NOT OWNING UP TO YOUR FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL AND COASTING ON YOUR LAURELS!

  2. Dave M

    I totally agree with the Chronicle writers and their March ’08 articles. And have you seen pictures of Coach K lately, he’s really looking his age and then some. He’s turning 62 this season, and despite all the time and money he spends on hair dye, facial cosmetics, etc., he’s got an unmistakeable, extremely tired and drawn-out look about him. It’s no wonder the team has severely declined in recruiting and in March Madness over the recent years. I believe Coach K should consider graciously stepping aside soon to let a younger, more energetic, and hungrier coach take his reigns. Coach K could then stay on board in another Athletic Dept position (Assistant AD?) and still provide oversight and consulting services to the basketball program.

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