However, one of the most important aspects pointed out by Siang was that while certain parts of Coach K's philosophy have remained constant, he has been able to be flexible in his treatment and communication to those in his program. Here is how Siang summed it up:
So what are some specific ways that Krzyzewski adapts to his people?
- He is responsive to the strengths of individuals at that moment, and to how each player depends upon the others on the team. He has said every team he coaches is different. In the Duke Men’s Basketball offices, there are binders of every single practice plan. Each one is handwritten and based on the evolving competencies and existing weaknesses of the players and team.
- Because an agile team is also a learning team, he pays attention to how individuals receive information and adapts his communications so that the messages and lessons resonate. “Coach would show the same play over and over on tape,” notes Tim O’Toole, Duke Assistant Coach from 1985-87 and now Assistant Coach at Stanford. “While demonstrating a defensive assignment, he may raise his voice or deepen the inflection, which would get the kinesthetic guy’s attention. Or he would say, ‘Do you see how easy it is for them to enter it into the post?’ Which would get the visual guys. Then for audio guys, ‘Before we move on to the next play, does everyone understand that we as a team, can’t allow the ball to enter that close to the basket or we’re in deep trouble?’ He just nailed it.”
- He gives individuals the chance to play in roles different than what they are known for. When Kobe Bryant, known for being a great offensive player, first joined the 2008 USA Mens’ Basketball Team, he asked Coach K to let him play defense and “guard the best player on every team” that they face. In given the chance to work on defense, Bryant expanded his range and set an example for what it means to be a team player. By being open to how and where his players want to contribute – Krzyzewski enables the team to consider new and innovative possibilities.