pcloudy.png
Sunday July 3rd, 2022 2:25PM

Coach K builds Blue Devils into his final Final Four team

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In one of his tried-and-true motivational speeches, Mike Krzyzewski outlined his four pillars of team building: making everyone feel important, taking ownership in the team, adapting to setbacks and playing with feeling.

Duke perfected the first three to help Coach K reach his 13th and most amazing Final Four. Next comes the “feeling” part.

Now that the record-setting, 75-year-old coach is in New Orleans, he knows he must walk a fine line between enjoying the moment and letting it overwhelm both him and his team.

“I've always thought that shared emotion is the best,” Krzyzewski said Thursday, as his team settled in for its run at the coach's sixth national title.

The Blue Devils (32-6) meet archrival North Carolina on Saturday in a national semifinal matchup plucked straight from a screenwriters' script.

When Duke lost two games over the span of a week in early March, starting with the 94-81 setback to the Tar Heels in Krzyzewski's final home game, the thought he might be coaching at the Final Four this weekend felt like a dream only a Blue Devils fan could believe.

But once the NCAA Tournament began, Duke started playing better. Wins over Cal-State Fullerton and Michigan State propelled the Blue Devils into the Sweet 16. There, they knocked off Texas Tech, then Arkansas. Krzyzewski passed John Wooden by qualifying for his record 13th Final Four. On Saturday he looks to improve on a record he already holds, by notching a 1,203rd career victory.

One of Krzyzewski's keys to the turnaround was convincing his players that the rest of this season was about them, not him.

“This is our season, too," Duke's Wendell Moore Jr., said before the team's win over Michigan State.

In many ways, Coach K's final team is fulfilling the vision he shared back in 2015 when, fresh off a championship after his 12th run to the Final Four, he gave the keynote address to a gathering of U.S. Olympic athletes and administrators in Colorado Springs.

“You are not paying rent. You're here, it's yours,” Krzyzewski told the rapt audience as he moved through his four pillars of team building.

He talked about his first Olympic experience, back in 1992, when he was an assistant to Chuck Daly on the Dream Team. Krzyzewski was coming off back-to-back titles with Duke and thought he was a “hot ticket.”

His eyes were opened when none other than Michael Jordan approached him after a practice one day. Krzyzewski braced for the inevitable smack talk from the best player in the game, one who happened to have played at North Carolina. Instead, Jordan asked if the coach could work with him on some of his offensive moves.

In his speech, Krzyzewski said he realized something after that workout.

“It's like a totem pole," the coach said. “Michael Jordan was at the top of the totem pole. And I was near the bottom."

But, Coach K said, ”Michael Jordan had a horizontal totem pole, where everybody was important."

Though there certainly is a pecking order on this year's version of the Blue Devils — freshmen Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin look like NBA lottery picks — at least four players have scored double figures in each of Duke's four NCAA victories. Five players average in double figures for the Blue Devils this season.

In his news conference Thursday, the coach spoke about the players taking ownership in their fate as the season wore on.

“When you go into competition, if you haven't worked, you have a hard time trusting yourself," he said. “But if you've worked, you can trust, but you also own it. You own it more.”

In his keynote address, Krzyzewski said his first two building blocks lead to the third, which is adaptability. In 2022, it played out after the losses to North Carolina, then one week later to Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, forced Krzyzewski to take a long look in the mirror.

“I just had a good meeting with myself. I said that I've got to do something. I've got to help in some way, and part of it was my approach with them,” Krzyzewski said before Duke's win over Arkansas in the Elite Eight.

Coach K described using the first five minutes of halftime during the Michigan State game to do something different by “just pull(ing) out a chair, and I sit with them for about five minutes and just, ‘OK, here’s where we’re at, and just talk to them.’”

Duke overcame a late, five-point deficit in that one, and now, Krzyzewski has led his team across his proverbial bridge that only a few lucky teams cross. They made it to college basketball's biggest stage.

In his motivational speech, Krzyzewski said one method of getting a room full of superstars to “feel” the mission they were on at the Barcelona Olympics each night was to play the soulful version of the national anthem sung by Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

The promise, the U.S. coaches told the Dream Team, was that they would hear that song twice on the day of the title game — once beforehand, then again while they were standing on the podium receiving their gold medals.

The song that closes out March Madness is “One Shining Moment.” Whether Duke will bask in confetti when that song plays at the end of the title game is a big part of the drama that will unfold between now and Monday night.

Whether or not it happens, everyone at Duke is feeling it at this point — even if the coach insists he's been focusing on basketball.

"I didn't do this season to have a storybook,” Krzyzewski said. “I did it because I wanted to coach one more year and I wanted to have a good succession plan for our program. And we've won 32 games, and my guys have been terrific.”

___

More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Sports, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, College Sports, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Todd Bowles calls replacing Bruce Arians 'bittersweet'
Todd Bowles earned his way in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball
6:29PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Coach K builds Blue Devils into his final Final Four team
In one of his tried-and-true motivational speeches, Mike Krzyzewski outlined his four pillars of team building
6:19PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Kremlin demands rubles for gas, EU leaders push back
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Thursday that the country’s natural gas must be paid for with rubles, a demand apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency but one that European leaders say they will not comply with because it violates the terms of contracts and sanctions
6:18PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hurkacz wears down Medvedev in Miami, denies him No. 1 rank
It was midway through the second set and Daniil Medvedev was standing several feet behind the baseline
5:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
South Carolina's Aliyah Boston wins AP player of the year
Aliyah Boston of South Carolina is The Associated Press women's basketball player of the year
4:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
Wisconsin's Davis says he's entering NBA draft, hiring agent
Wisconsin basketball star Johnny Davis is ready to turn pro after delivering a superb sophomore season
4:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
McCollum cheered in return, helps Pelicans beat Blazers
CJ McCollum received a 90-second standing ovation in his first visit to Portland since a February trade to New Orleans, then scored 25 points to lead the Pelicans over the Trail Blazers 117-107
1:47AM ( 16 hours ago )
Booker, Paul deliver at end, Suns hold off Warriors 107-103
Devin Booker’s two free throws with 34.2 seconds left put Phoenix ahead, Draymond Green traveled to turn it over before Chris Paul made a short jumper, and the NBA-best Phoenix Suns held off the Golden State Warriors 107-103 in a furious finish between Western Conference rivals
1:34AM ( 16 hours ago )
Young scores 41 in homecoming as Hawks top Thunder 136-118
Trae Young had 41 points and eight assists, and the Atlanta Hawks rolled past the Oklahoma City Thunder 136-118
12:10AM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
NBA prospects get another college incentive with paid deals
Top NBA prospects suddenly have many more options when it comes when it comes to playing college basketball or pursuing alternative routes to the professional ranks
2:24PM ( 1 day ago )
Women's Final Four teams survived wild tourney amid parity
There was a time, not that many years ago, when predicting who would win the women’s NCAA Tournament was not that difficult
7:59PM ( 1 day ago )
'Beacon of goodness': NCAA women's gymnastics is booming
The arrival of Olympic champion Sunisa Lee, new, relaxed rules on athlete compensation and better exposure on TV are fueling interest in NCAA women's gymnastics
6:07PM ( 2 days ago )
College Sports
Carolina crushes Saint Peter's, will meet Duke in Final Four
North Carolina crushed all hope of a March Madness miracle, getting 20 points and 22 rebounds from Armando Bacot in a wire-to-wire 69-49 runaway over 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s
8:57PM ( 3 days ago )
Ouch! Bracket-busting Saint Peter's run ends in Elite Eight
Saint Peter's saw its fantastic run in the NCAA Tournament end with a 69-49 loss to North Carolina in the East Region final
7:40PM ( 3 days ago )
Carolina crushes Saint Peter's dream, Duke next in Final 4
North Carolina crushed all hope of a March Madness miracle, getting 20 points and 22 rebounds from Armando Bacot in a wire-to-wire 69-49 runaway over 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s
7:25PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
Todd Bowles calls replacing Bruce Arians 'bittersweet'
Todd Bowles earned his way in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball
6:29PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Kremlin demands rubles for gas, EU leaders push back
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Thursday that the country’s natural gas must be paid for with rubles, a demand apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency but one that European leaders say they will not comply with because it violates the terms of contracts and sanctions
6:18PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Washington OKs 1st statewide missing Indigenous people alert
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a bill that creates a first-in-the-nation statewide alert system for missing Indigenous people
6:18PM ( 15 minutes ago )
LSU's Kim Mulkey wins AP Coach of the Year for third time
Kim Mulkey is The Associated Press women's basketball Coach of the Year in her first season at LSU
6:18PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Osaka rallies, tops Bencic to make Miami Open women's final
Naomi Osaka has reached a championship match for the first time since the 2021 Australian Open
6:15PM ( 19 minutes ago )