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Until this year, the one-and-done system hasn’t worked out too well for Coach K and Duke. Yes, I think he has finally adapted to the mindset of today’s players. What I’m about to say is criticism of one of the greatest coaches ever, and it is only my opinion, but here it goes. I don’t think the game was fun for him from 2011 through last year, and the end results showed. Before this year, it seemed as if he put the focus more on the one and done players.
2011–Kyrie Irving: An awesome guard, but his coming back from injury disrupted the chemistry it seemed. May have lost to Arizona whether he was there or not but fact is he played and they got crushed.
2012–Austin Rivers: Other than the game winner against Carolina in Chapel Hill, never felt like he belonged. One tournament game.
2014–Jabari Parker: Appeared to be a good fit for Duke and looked like a good team player. One tournament game.
2015–He had three superstars. Yes, Okafor came in with all the hype, but as we saw this whole year, Tyus and Justise were just as good at their positions. This made Duke truly a team, and one that Coach K knew could really be special, and as we saw, yes they were.
My point is he had options, and didn’t put one guy over the rest of team as I believe he did those other years. I also find it neat that he said this was his most favorite team that he’s had. I wonder if the last few years really made him doubt what he was doing. I’m not going to lie, I was starting to doubt him. Not on his knowledge of the game. He’s forgotten more than I know. My problem was his man-to-man defense and lack of minutes from his bench. The season changer in my opinion was the Miami game and the comments by their point guard and coach in reference to Duke’s defense, which in the last few years was weak at best. We all know what happened after that, but him finally going with the occasional zone to me helped his team build confidence.
Then, something happened with them where it seemed like they really knew they could be special and looked like his teams from the past with their defense. Commentators were calling Quinn Cook a great defender – something he hadn’t been called at all during his career. Yes, Quinn was great, and we were lucky he played for Duke. He was as vital as the freshman. From my view point this team looked as if they wanted to please their head coach, instead of prepping for the NBA.
I do think this team is as good as any that have won titles for him, but also think that everyone from Coach K down really gave the Duke program everything they had. Like I said earlier, I’m not so sure that was the case in other years.
Coach Capel and the Olympics are the other reasons for Duke’s success. He has been huge in the recruitment of these players, and relates well to them. I was initially against Coach K’s involvement with the Olympics for fear of him not focusing on Duke. Boy have I been proven wrong on that one. It has helped Duke out because the NBA players rave about Coach K. I was blown away by Lebron’s tweet after the title game. How can a 15-17 year old not be impressed that a NBA stud has that much respect for a college coach?
It is a tribute that a man can adapt as he has, considering he’s been coaching for more than three decades, and I will admit that even though I have doubted him in the past, he proves over and over again why he’s there and I’m sitting in my recliner.