It seems to be a forgone conclusion at this point that Duke men’s basketball teams turn over from year to year, but the program just simply keeps building itself back up easily. Not so much with this group, says coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The Blue Devils have played one of the toughest schedules in the country and have just four losses, but they’ve come against some strange opponents like Temple and an overtime loss to Miami over the weekend. Krzyzewski says the team simply hasn’t learned to play with consistency.
Mike Krzyzewski joined 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis with Dan Dakich to discuss overcoming tough early seasons in his career, this season in general, giving teams that beat Duke credit, how he’s fighting a team that’s battling inconsistency and Duke having the same problems as every other team in the country.
How did you persevere through three tough seasons to start your career?:
“First of all, I always felt we were going to win. But I also felt that I was on a team here at Duke, with my president and the administration. … They were always behind me. Not publicly, necessarily, but privately, I knew they had their support and backing. It was a total team effort, and I’m not sure that that’s done as much anymore in college athletics for high level, not even high level, basketball and football.”
How do you feel about this year’s team?:
“I like the fact that we’ve won 19 out of 23 games against an extremely difficult schedule, one of the top schedules in the country. I’m not happy with the way we’ve developed. Based on that schedule, we should’ve learned more, so that we wouldn’t be inconsistent from game-to-game and within a game. We can play really good basketball at times, or for a game, and then all of the sudden not play well.”
Isn’t it weird that when Duke loses, nobody gives the other team credit?:
“I agree with that. Jim Larranaga is a heckuva coach. [Miami] has really good talent. They have as much talent as we do, and other coaches know how to use their talent. So much for us is like what we’ve done in the past. We were ranked in the top five or six or seven in the preseason, but none of our guys were ranked in the top 50 in the country. Usually we have one or two of those guys. … This year’s team has gotten a lot from what we’ve done in the past, and then lived up to it. We beat Kansas and Washington and Michigan and Michigan State and those teams, but still not the dependable, consistent group that you need to have to get into the tournament and advance far.”
What are you fighting every day with that?:
“Just consistency. When you played and when you coached at Indiana, you were a good player. You were like Jon Scheyer for me. You weren’t going to be a lottery pick or first-round pick, but you could be a really good college player. You came to practice wanting to be that. But then you had a couple, one or two, other guys who could be pros, really good players. To me, that’s the type of combination. We don’t have guys who, you were on a mission to be good every day, and when you have guys that have been role players before, and then freshmen coming in, that’s something you have to learn. I don’t think our guys have learned that yet. As a result, we get some inconsistent play against good teams.”
That seems surprising because people realize that’s a problem for programs around the country, but it doesn’t seem like something that happens at Duke:
“To me, it’s the biggest insult a player can give a coach, is not to listen and not to really listen to what a coach says. When I played for Coach Knight, I heard one voice, his. I didn’t hear mine. I didn’t hear my parents, AAU coach, friends, Twitter. I heard one voice. When the guys here have been really good, they’ve heard one voice. … That doesn’t make our kids bad kids. They’re good kids and they’ve played real well. They’re 19-4 and have played some outstanding basketball, but in order to be really good, you have to listen to that one teacher.”