When Mike Krzyzewski talks, the college basketball world listens.
Coach K spoke with media after Duke’s 83-68 loss to Illinois on Tuesday night, but he wasn’t so much focused on what had transpired at Cameron Indoor Stadium as with what’s happening in the broader college basketball landscape. The sport is “plowing through” the COVID-19 pandemic, Krzyzewski said, and it just doesn’t feel right to him.
“I don’t think it feels right to anybody,” Krzyzewski said, according to The (Raleigh) News & Observer. “I mean, everyone is concerned.”
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Krzyzewski spoke in the context of another ACC team’s game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge being postponed while the Blue Devils played their contest Tuesday night. Virginia had its Wednesday matchup with Michigan State postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the UVA program.
Virginia became the fourth ACC team to pause its program this week because of coronavirus problems, joining Louisville, Wake Forest and North Carolina State. Krzyzewski mentioned how the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising around the country, with Duke’s home state of North Carolina implementing a curfew starting Friday to try to combat the virus’ spread.
“I know the NCAA is worried about the end game,” Krzyzewski said, alluding to the financial windfall the NCAA receives from March Madness. “They’re not as worried about the game we’re playing right now.”
While speaking about the bigger picture, Krzyzewski wanted to make sure it didn’t sound like he was making excuses for two losses in three games by Duke.
“I know somebody will take what I’m saying tonight, and make it like I’m making excuses,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t make excuses. We need to get a lot better. But for the good of the game, and the good of the safety and mental and physical health of our players and staff and whatever, we need to constantly look at this thing. And I think that’s, I think that’s a smart thing to do.”
Krzyzewski, 73 and the winningest coach in NCAA history, has coached at Duke since 1980. He’s led the Blue Devils to five NCAA championships. And now he’s wondering whether college basketball should “reassess” what it’s doing.
“Do I think things should be done a little bit differently?” Krzyzewski said. “Yeah. I mean, you know, a lot of kids, kids aren’t gonna be able to go home for Christmas, probably a time where they should for mental health. We’re just plowing through this.”