Mike Krzyzewski: ‘Announcers, Talk Show Hosts Won’t Say Anything About Calls For Virginia In ACC Championship Game’
Mike Krzyzewski has been battling a chest cold for the last several days, but that didn’t stop him from dropping by The John Feinstein Show on Monday to discuss Duke’s NCAA Tournament draw, among other topics.
The Blue Devils, who lost to Virginia in the ACC Championship, are seeded third in the Midwest, which is easily the toughest region in the tournament. Joining Duke are No. 1 Wichita State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Louisville, No. 5 Saint Louis and No. 8 Kentucky.
“You could have a Final Four (in that region),” Krzyzewski said. “But that’s the way it is. It was like that last year for us, and sometimes it’s not that way. But I think it’s obvious that region is loaded.”
Duke (26-8) faces No. 14 Mercer, (26-8) which won the Atlantic Sun Tournament by beating Florida Gulf Coast. The game will be played on Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina – which of course isn’t too far from Durham.
Asked if he’d rather play near home in a tough region or travel and play in a balanced region, Krzyzewski said the most important thing is rest.
“We’re fine,” he said. “I think the main thing for us is if you play on Sunday in the ACC Tournament, just make sure that you’re playing on Friday – wherever it is. That tournament takes a lot out of you. We played at 9:30 on Friday night and 3:30 on Saturday afternoon and 1 on Sunday. We’re not this big, physical team. You get worn down. So the main thing is we got a Friday (game). The way you travel now, to me, it doesn’t make that much different where you play. But the (extra) day, I think, will help us.”
Before looking ahead to Michigan or a possible Elite Eight game with Wichita State or Louisville, however, Krzyzewski knows Duke has to get by Mercer first.
“They’re a veteran team,” he said. “They beat Florida Gulf Coast, who was the darling of the tournament last year and was so good. They can beat us. We understand that. Our guys respect everybody because we’re a good team, but we’re not that good. Especially when you play a veteran team, you’re playing kids who are 22, 21, 23 – and they play together. They’re well-coached by Bob Hoffman. They’ve averaged 25 wins a season the last three years. They’re a really good team.
“We’ll give them our full attention, and obviously they deserve that attention.”
Krzyzewski also discussed the technical foul he received against Virginia on Sunday. Duke is often said to “get all the calls,” but that was a pretty questionable call on Krzyzewski, who had his back to the official when the technical was given.
“It’s like old stuff,” Krzyzewski said. “I think when you win a long time – and we’re not a state school, so you don’t have a press corps protecting you a little bit – you’re out there. That goes with the territory. And not only that, but announcers and talk show hosts and whatever – they will not say anything about yesterday’s game.
“And again, Virginia played better than we did. But obviously there were 38 free throws to 11. There were things that if you’re trying to homer for somebody, you could homer. And we don’t get that at all. Ever.
“So that does get old. But you know what? I’m not going to start losing – or try to start losing – to get away from that.”
Overall, it’s been a tough year for Duke, which came up just shy of ACC championships in both the regular season and the conference tournament. Krzyzewski has also been coaching with a heavy heart, as his older brother, William, a retired Chicago fire captain, died in December. He was 71.
“It’s been a different season,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m gad I’ve got great kids. They’re young, so you don’t know exactly what they’re going to do day-to-day, (but) all of us experience tough things in (our) lives. I’ve lost both my parents, but the death of my brother – it was just the two of us – that was a different thing. And it’s still a different thing. But you’ve got to move on. I got a lot of help from my staff, but it has been an emotional year. It still is.
“But you’re right. You can’t use that as any kind of a crutch or an excuse. People are dealing with these thing all over, and they go to work and they do their job, and that’s the family I grew up with in Chicago. You don’t tell people how hard it is for you – because everybody has it hard. It’s there, but again, I’m dealing with it well.”
Krzyzewski would call his brother every Sunday to talk, and William would always give him a hard time about how the team wasn’t playing well – even if they were winning.
Typical big brother stuff.
“He was the best,” Krzyzewski said. “The best.”