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KK: Coach K should go

2004 July 3
by Skip Sauer

Prefatory note: my commentary on this issue is motivated by pure self-interest.

Salon’s King Kaufman:

If I’m Coach K., I’ve already taken the Lakers job.

As you might have noticed, I’m not Coach K. … But looking just at the basketball side of things, he’s gotta go. NCAA basketball, and particularly ACC basketball, is headed downhill on a rail.

I hope so, then Clemson might start winning some games! Back to KK’s script:

The talent drain is changing college basketball. For most fans, it doesn’t matter much. They root for the uniform. They’re loyal to the alma mater or the local squad and it doesn’t make much difference if the level of play is a small step below the pros or three big steps. In fact, the siphoning off of elite players probably improves parity, since no longer having NBA-bound guys for more than a year or two brings the top programs back to the pack. That’s actually an overall good, as far as it goes.

But for a guy like Krzyzewski, it means he’s the king of a shriveling empire. The Blue Devils will still play for 35 packed houses a year, but day in and day out, Coach K. is increasingly working with a B team.

Yep. I hear the whining clear across the Carolina border.

Not only that but the ACC, where basketball has long ruled the roost, is transforming itself into a football conference, chasing the riches of a conference title game and the Bowl Championship Series. On Thursday, the day the Coach K. rumor broke — coincidence? — Virginia Tech and Miami officially joined the conference. Boston College is set to come aboard next year. Those schools play basketball, but they aren’t really in the basketball business.

We can beat them! And Coach K leaving on account of it would put the cherry on top of the sundae.

I think Coach K. is smart enough to gain the respect and handle the temperament of most NBA stars and owners. And NBA coaches don’t have to recruit, don’t have to worry about the NCAA’s byzantine rules or whether players are passing their classes or at least cheating their way through them in plausibly deniable ways, don’t have to worry about whether the talented new player they’ve just signed will get a better offer and just not show up.

Who wouldn’t want to trade an old set of headaches for a shiny new set? And with nothing left to prove in college basketball, why wouldn’t Krzyzewski want to challenge himself anew? It’s not as though, basketball-wise, he’s a typical control-freak, call every play college coach. His teams play up-tempo ball and man-to-man defense. That’s been known to work in the NBA.

Econ 101: where is K’s value the highest? LA, notwithstanding that he apparently has skills in “plausibly deniable ways.”

Duke athletic director Joe Alleva told both Krzyzewski and reporters that he hopes Coach K. stays at Duke. “He’s an educator,” Alleva said.

Then it makes sense he’d want to be around college-age kids with a lot of basketball talent. Last time I looked, those kids were in the NBA.

Where their value is the highest, if I may be so bold. Be right, KK!

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