Krzyzewski looking for on-court leaders
Posted March 26, 2014
Durham, N.C. — Mike Krzyzewski has a bit longer to plan for next season than he had hoped after his Duke University Blue Devils were ousted Friday in the second round (and their first game) of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. A talkative Coach K spent Wednesday afternoon fielding questions in Durham about that loss and what it means for the team's future.
"This is not something I usually do," he said. "I wish this was a press conference in Indianapolis."
Going in to the match-up with Mercer, Krzyzewski expressed concern about an experience imbalance, between his Blue Devils who started a freshman and two sophomores and the Bears' more seasoned lineup.
"We were not the most mature, and I am not saying that in a negative way," he said. "You have more chance of getting beat. That's why I said this team could lose in more ways than one. We invented a new way in the last game."
Duke's two best players – Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker – had no NCAA Tournament experience.
"We could play better defense, but fundamentally the thing that we missed was on the court leadership play after play," Krzyzewski said.
Two early NCAA exits with freshman starters and future NBA stars (Austin Rivers in 2012 and Parker in 2014) won't change how he recruits.
"If you're placed in that position where one or two of the best players in the United States who are great kids and great players want to come to your school, you have to be an idiot to say no," he said.
"It's up to the leader to adjust to the group he or she has."
Krzyzewski's off season focus would be on building court leadership on his always-talented roster. "I should do a better job with that," he said.
Two key questions remain unanswered: Will Hood, a red shirt sophomore, and freshman phenom Parker be back for 2014-15? Both will make decisions soon about whether to enter the NBA Draft. But even that uncertainty is familiar to a coach with the longevity and accomplishments of Coach K.
On position on the bench is a sure bet, though. "I'm going to be here," Krzyzewski said.