Duke has missed its legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski for the last seven games due to back surgery. In those seven games, the Blue Devils were 4-3, including losses to Florida State, Louisville, and unranked N.C. State.
During his leave of absence, he barred players from entering the locker room and wearing team gear, which came after the Blue Devils hadn’t been playing like the preseason No. 1 team in the country or meeting Krzyzewski’s standards for the program.
The K Factor
Coach K made his return Saturday afternoon against Pittburgh and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Duke beat the Panthers 72-64, and Coach K was emotional after the game. He spoke about how much he missed Cameron Indoor Stadium and coaching the Blue Devils in his postgame comments:
WATCH: Mike Krzyzewski talks about his emotions as he returned from a one-month break to have back surgery. pic.twitter.com/Ul9rZ4NxEg
— Joedy McCreary (@JoedyAP) February 4, 2017
Impact on the Bench
With the return of Krzyzewski, it gives this team a huge confidence boost. While Jeff Capel had done an admirable job, he doesn’t have the same reputation and experience as Coach K does toward this team. He has more of an impact on this team than anyone else. If this group is down, Coach K picks them up and this is the motivation Duke needs to realize its potential.
With Coach K back on the bench, we should see a more energized and motivated Duke squad, as that’s the kind of impact the legendary coach can have.
Halftime Words of Wisdom
With Duke tied at halftime against unranked Pittsburgh, it likely wasn’t the return Coach K had hoped it would be. However, the winningest coach in men’s basketball history is able to draw on his experience to offer halftime adjustments. In my opinion, Coach K’s words have a bigger impact then Jeff Capel’s words.
Duke is lucky to have its head man back, and his words will be useful in the locker room.
Coach K returned just in time, as he and the Blue Devils have a few days to prepare for long time rival North Carolina. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils face off on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.