The emotions Mike Krzyzewski displays on the courtare the hallmarks of any college basketball coach.His angry stare from the bench seems to sear referees. A snarl of disgust from the Duke leader gets his team back in line, and fast.showed a softer side.
From those tears sprang a new beginning. Dukes loss to Connecticut in the NCAAchampionship game no longer mattered. The stunning departure of five players, three of those leaving early for the NBAdraft, became distant memories. His physical pain became an afterthought on that April day when, recovering from hip-replacement surgery, ChrisCarrawell, Shane Battier and Nate James paid a visit to his home.
With all the stuff that was happening, they just came out and said, Coach, we just want to know how youre doing,Krzyzewski says. It made me cry. It was like, You care. We talked for a long time that afternoon, and we talked about next year. That was the start of this years team.
This years Duke team was minutes removed from cutting down the nets Sunday at the ACCTournament when Krzyzewski opened up about his teams emotional journey this season. Acursory glance shows few changes from last year: Duke stormed to the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles in 2000, finishing 18-1 in the league; the 1999 squad did the same, only without the one loss. Both Duke teams stood No. 1 in the final AP Top 25 polls and had No. 1 seeds in the NCAATournament.
Even the talent level and sky-high expectations heaped on both teams are remarkably similar. And that may be the root of the biggest emotion of all at Duke these days.
n A decade of Duke dominance ended with a thud last March. The Huskies stunned the nation with a 77-74 win in the NCAAchampionship game, and the bad news kept flowing out of Durham.
Sophomore Elton Brand, the national Player of the Year, announced his intention to enter the NBADraft.
He made history as the first player in Krzyzewskis 19-year reign at Duke to leave school early for the pros.
Then, in rapid-fire succession, sophomore point guard William Avery and freshman sensation Corey Maggette also declared for the draft. Junior forward ChrisBurgess, disappointed with a lack of playing time, decided to transfer. The teams rock, five-year star Trajan Langdon, graduated in May and also headed for the NBA.
Everybody was leaving us, Carrawell says. Quin Snyder left (to take over the head coaching job at Missouri). We lost a couple people off sports information! We went over and saw coach. I was like, Are you going to be ready to coach us this year? Carrawell says. He was like, Yeah, Im going to be ready, and I said, Look, if youre ready to coach us, then were going to have a great year.
Even after the long heart-to-heart talk, Krzyzewski needed to be sure. He had to be certain the Blue Devils had a senior leader in place for the arduous task ahead.
I asked them, Do you believe what Im saying? Krzyzewski says. AndCarrawell this was where Carrawell took over the leadership of this basketball team he leaned forward in his chair and he said, Coach, if you say it, I believe it.
This has been a team where, when we say stuff, they believe it, and it started on that day.
That was definitely the start, Carrawell agrees.
n Five months later, some of the optimism had faded.
When Carrawell, Battier and James looked around the practice court in October, they saw seven new faces.
When those newcomers took stock in the 1999-2000 BlueDevils, they saw just three upperclassmen all role players lost in a galaxy of stars.
Its easy when you can play off Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon. Icould sneak in, get a couple baskets and thats cool,Carrawell says. Myself and Shane, now were the guys. You got some young freshmen coming in that dont know nothing. You lose all that talent, its tough.
Duke did catch one break. Those young freshmen Carrawell worried over came highly touted, and with good reason. Jason Williams, the prep player of the year, stepped in at point guard. Mike Dunleavy Jr.
boasted a silky-smooth shot worthy of a coachs son.
And Carlos Boozer became the latest Alaskan Assassin, making the long journey to North Carolina with a devastating low-post game instead of Langdons deadly outside touch.
Each year is its own entity. Although there were losses, there were great things that happened to our players,Krzyzewski says. Weve never talked about last year. When you get additions like Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Nick Horvath, Casey (Sanders), then the new roles that the upper class had, thats what makes college coaching so interesting, because theres a newness about it every year.
n New didnt sit well at first. Duke opened the seasWords/ Pages : 3,619 / 24