Mike Krzyzewski: “College basketball has to have a relationship with the NBA. We don’t have anything like that. That’s just kind of sad.”

April 17, 2012 – 5:45 am by Steven Cuce

This relatively new term of a ‘one-and-done’ player has quickly become a fixture on the college basketball scene at the Division I Men’s level. Every season the balance of power quickly changes with elite players leaving school only after one season to set their sights on the NBA. Underclassmen are leaving school at alarming rates and some mid-major schools have become the beneficiaries of this trend come NCAA tournament time in March because they actually have teams that have played with each other for more than one season.

Mike Krzyzewski has accepted the change in the landscape of college basketball, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a fan of it. Krzyzewski has adapted to the changes and in the following interview explains how he would fix the game he has coached in since 1974.

Mike Krzyzewski joined The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City with Jim and Al to discuss fixing the game of college basketball, the difficulty in recruiting one-and-done superstar players, Austin Rivers not fitting in with the Duke system, the development of Austin Rivers and college basketball players in our modern day staying with their schools for more than one season.

What do we have to do to fix the game of college basketball?

“First of all college basketball doesn’t control college basketball. The NBA controls college basketball. They are the ones along with the players union that sets the rule. College basketball just reacts to what the NBA does to include the early entry date. College basketball put out April 10th. Well that date doesn’t mean anything. April 29th is when guys have a chance to put their names in the NBA draft. I think one of the main things that has to happen is college basketball has to have a relationship with the NBA. There should be someone in charge of college basketball who on a day-to-day basis sets an agenda for our great sport. We don’t have anything like that. As a resolve we don’t have a voice with the NBA or the players union and that’s just kind of sad.”

Do you continue to go after superstar players who could be one-and-done players? Do you go harder after players that may stay 2-3 years as oppose to the superstar?

“Yeah we can’t go after every one-and-done guy because a lot of the guys and they are great players and great kids, but school isn’t as important. A lot of those guys a number of years ago didn’t have to go to college. Dwight Howard. Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Kids are…it’s not even going one year. They are going to spend maybe six-seven months. Sometimes…we have a great school, but it’s not as attractive as going someplace else, so we have to be careful with who we get involved with because it could be a monumental waste of time for us.”

It seemed like to me that Austin Rivers style of play didn’t fit on your team? Did you feel the same way?

“Well we tried to fit his style of game because he is a heck of a player. He improved throughout and a kid right now doesn’t have to go into the pro’s because he’s ready. It’s if they are going to pick him. If they..it’s the future picks…I think that sometimes the NBA draft is like venture capital. You think a company is going to be really good. They don’t have to be really good yet. Austin is going to be really good. He was very good for us.”

It took Austin Rivers some time to be good though?

“Yeah it takes adjusting. I loved the kid. I think he is a great kid. He had confidence in us. It was a good time for him to go because he’ll be picked fairly high right now.”

That’s why it would be really cool if Austin Rivers was coming back for another year. Wouldn’t it?

“Those kids like in the 1990′s: Bobby Hurley could have gone [to the NBA early], Grant Hill or Christian Laettner, but they stayed and then they became legendary. Now there is less chance of doing that unless you are like this Kentucky team that won as freshmen. The guys who didn’t win like John Wall or [DeMarcus] Cousins or [Brandon] Knight. Those kids were great college players for one year. A kid like [Anthony] Davis will become legendary because he actually won the NCAA tournament.”

Listen to Mike Krzyzewski on The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City here

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