In Banning Duke Players from Locker Room, Coach K Hoping to Right the Ship Like in 2015
In calling a team meeting at his home on Tuesday night and banning Duke players from the locker room and wearing team gear, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is hoping to right the ship for a struggling Blue Devils team that has lost three-of-four and is ranked No. 17 after entering the season as the preseason No. 1.
This isn’t the first time Coach K has done this to his team, a source close to the team said.
The Hall of Fame coach used similar tactics in 2002, ’13 and ’15. In 2015, Duke won the last of its five NCAA championships under Coach K. That team, like this one, featured several projected one-and-done players.
“After the Miami game in [January] 2015 and before the Louisville game, he did some of the same tactics,” the source said. “And they won the title.”
The team meeting and the locker room ban was first reported Thursday by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
The source confirmed it to ZAGSBLOG.
“Coach K’s upset with the way things have transpired and the way they’ve played and he doesn’t think they’re playing like Duke players,” the source said.
The source called the locker room ban “indefinite.” Duke next plays on Saturday at Wake Forest.
“He’s done this before,” the source added. “Hopefully, it shakes them up. The thing they need the most is to make sure they’re healthy and they need to get Coach K back.”
Duke’s three freshmen big men — Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden — all missed time to start the season with injuries, although all are back playing now.
Coach K has been out since undergoing back surgery on Jan. 6. Associate head coach Jeff Capel is 2-3 in his absence.
Junior guard Grayson Allen also faced an indefinite suspension that lasted one game for tripping an Elon player.
The source said Coach K used similar tactics in 2002, ’13 and ’15.
In 2015, the Blue Devils went on to win the NCAA championship with a team that featured eventual one-and-dones Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow and Tyus Jones. Yet since the one-and-done era began in 2006, only two teams with one-and-done players have won NCAA championships: Kentucky in 2012 and Duke in 15.
It’s also a valid question whether projected one-and-dones like Tatum and Giles will respond to Coach K’s tactics given that they will be millionaires in five months.
“It’s always tough with the chemistry and things got off to a bad start with the players being injured this year,” the source said.
Now that Coach K has spoken, it remains to be seen if his actions have the desired effect.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.