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Coach K At Media Day

Coach K sat in the Hall Of Fame room Friday afternoon and
talked for almost an hour
about his team, his philosophy, how to reform
recruiting, the officiating deal with the SEC, the strength of the ACC, how to
market the conference nationally, how the game has changed with so many people
leaving early, how Duke should adapt to that educationally, his individual
players, his excitement over the coming season, how his perception of the media
has changed,  the Fox Sunday  night game, and his mom's chocolate chip
cookies. 

Among other things.

Let's start with the obvious, the outlook for this season. He's pretty happy
with being ranked high and as always says it's not added pressure but an honor,
and something to be proud of.  He talked of wanting Shane to not be humble.
We've heard second hand quotes where he told Jason Williams to be arrogant, in a
good sense.  We think that's probably what he's telling Shane as well. He
says this is definitely Shane's team.

It's always impressed us that he refuses to  view things
negatively.  When a reporter asked about the disappointing end to the
season, he said it wasn't disappointing, that it was a great season, and that
losing the last game didn't diminish that.  

In a similar vein, he said that Carlos Boozer's failing to make the national
team this year wasn't disappointing, it was a chance for Carlos to look at
himself more honestly and thus an opportunity to improve.

He said that Jason Williams probably had the toughest role of any freshman in
the country because he had to run the team with no backup, no second plan, and
that there was no margin for error, and that he thought Jason did a great job.

He complimented the trainer for working out programs for Nate James and Matt
Christensen, who are both having knee problems.  Currently a lot of their
training is in the pool, which allows them to play every day despite balky
knees.

He said he looks forward to having a deeper team, one which can dictate more
defensively.  He wants to play Shane more on the perimeter
defensively.  

K also said that Casey Sanders and Nick Horvath had improved quite a bit, and
that while last season Sanders "wasn't worldly" in the ways of
basketball, he has grown up quickly and learned a lot.  Sanders, he says,
now sees himself as a player, and Horvath, who last season saw himself as a
shooter now sees himself as a player. He also said that Nick's teammates were
very excited about his recent play.  Somewhat surprisingly, he said that
Andre Buckner might play his way into some minutes.

He also touched on Dunleavy of course, and interestingly declined to talk
about his supposed growth spurt. So did Dunleavy, which we found an intriguing
coincidence.

He touched on a lot of things, as we suggested at the beginning. He talked of
recruiting as it reflects our society, and said that you can't make it pure
because none of us our pure, which more or less suggests human nature is at
fault as it usually is.  He said that with the various events  like
the Nike camp and the various Holiday tournaments and the fact that those
usually take place in cities, where most of the recruits live, it inevitably
gives advantages to urban programs which more rural programs can't match.

He also mentioned how many kids have signed this season without even visiting
the schools they signed with and, in essence, said you connect the dots. 
He talked of the summer culture, to use Cedric Dempsey's term, and said that when
coaches were restricted, other people filled the void, whether street agents,
reporters, or what have you.

He gave a fairly useful critique of the NCAA's half-hearted efforts at reform
and suggested, again, that there needs to be a full-time plan to deal with
basketball.

Then he turned his attention to the ACC, saying that when he arrived, that
the conference was very serious about how it was perceived nationally.  He
said that in the last few years, which roughly coincides with John Swofford's
tenure as commissioner, it had not been handled as well but that things were
looking up.  Someone asked him about the Sunday night deal with Fox, and if
that would negatively affect the student side of the student-athlete, and he
said not if you manage it well, more or less.  He clearly sees that as an
excellent marketing tool.

He thinks the conference in general is in excellent shape and expects a
highly exciting season. When asked about UNC and Doherty, he said that Doherty
might do things differently or he might not, but that UNC would still be UNC and
the rivalry was one of the greatest in all sports, and that would survive
coaching changes.

He also riffed for a bit on the officials deal with the SEC, and how he hoped
that would a) provide for better officials, b) help prepare both conferences for
tourney time, and c) accelerate the move towards national officiating standards
and practices.

He spoke briefly of working with Duke to make it more practical to help
players who left early to graduate, noting that that can be easier at a less
national university because, for instance, Antwan Jamison comes home to North
Carolina in the summer anyway.  It was an interesting point.

He also spoke briefly about how he initially resisted the media, but how he
now saw it as just a part of the deal and while he wasn't in an adversarial
relationship with the media, he would be blunt and honest and didn't mind if
they were, too.

As for the cookies - he was riffing on the urge for excellence and said that
his mom's chocolate chip cookies were the best, but she didn't get going and say
"I'm going to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever," that that
wasn't the way to do it. The way to do it, he said, was to just try to make the
best damn cookies you can every time. He also said that he really, really missed
those cookies.

All things considered, it was an amazing performance, touching on a wide
range of things, and while the basketball insights were keen, as you might
expect, the more general insights were equally keen.  Clearly, the
intellect behind this wasn't going through the motions.