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Friday, April 3, 2015


There are a lot of different ways to coach and teach our game -- many of those ways lead to the development of good teams.  But the one constant above all -- for those who sustain excellence for long periods of time, if their ability to seek out and accept change when it is part of improvement.

Few coaches have met the success over long periods of time like Coach Mike
Krzyzewski. There was an article written in the Buffalo News recently on that topic by Bucky Gleason.
You can read the entire article here.  Below are some key excerpts: 

“I saw an interview that he did the other day where he said that he, himself, is still learning and still adjusting and still evolving,” Christian Laettner said Thursday by telephone. “He’s learning how to coach these kids. He’s coaching them differently today than he did me 23 years ago. Coach K is still learning.

“They say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ He’s breaking that clich√©. He’s an old dog for sure, but he looks young on the sideline. He has a lot of passion and intensity, but he’s not so rigid that he doesn’t evolve and change with the way kids are today and the way the game is played today.”

Five years ago, Duke won its last national title with sound defense and effective shooting from the perimeter. In 2001, it had a great forward in Shane Battier, was strong inside with Carlos Boozer and a great shooter in Mike Dunleavy. In the early 1990s, it revolved around Laettner, Hurley and Grant Hill.

“I’m sure he’s still stubborn about some deep-rooted, hard-core philosophies that he has,” Laettner said. “I’m sure he delivers those messages to the kids very strictly and very stubbornly. In other ways, he has to be willing to change, be willing to give in and relent, and relate with these young players today.”

In another era, Krzyzewski turned away from recruits who considered playing for a year or two in college before jumping to the NBA. He wanted them to stay for all four years and grow with the program. Although Corey Maggette left after one season in 1998-99 and Luol Deng split after one season five years later, most stayed at Duke.

Krzyzewski made a philosophical U-turn after a rule was implemented in 2006 that called for NBA players to be 19 years old. Rather than resist a national trend, he kept an open mind. He embraced players who helped his program even if they stayed for one season. He realized it would encourage top recruits to choose Duke.

“He has adapted in more ways than this,” Hurley said. “His style of play year-to-year is based on his personnel and the players he has in the program. He’s always done that whether it’s tweaking his style of coaching or now, with this.”

Coach K is still growing with his players. Laettner and Hurley frequently call him for advice when making major life decisions. Hurley leaned on him this year when it came down to coaching UB and opportunities that were presented, such as meeting with DePaul about the opening there.

Their story continues to unfold. And they’re still learning from Krzyzewski.

“It’s a special bond that can never be taken away,” Laettner said. “I’m 45, and he still coaches me to this day just like he did when I was 20 years old. I definitely take advantage of that situation, and I’m sure the other guys do the same thing.”


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