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Can't Count, Can't Write, What A State!

John Nogowski, who covers FSU for the Tallahassee Democrat, has
a nasty little bit up on ACC News
about why he can't stand Coach K.
Apparently, like too many reporters, it boils down to this:

Coach K doesn't
respect his basketball knowledge.

Nogowski, who said Coach K's decisions on
playing time made him shake his head, says some remarkably nasty and insinuative
things, among them:

  • Either he is working from an agenda that nobody can understand - a
    possibility, considering his background - or he has such contempt for
    everyone outside his inner world, coaching basketball is the only way he can
    exact his revenge and create a world that has become his kingdom. He can't
    be bothered with what the peasants want.
  • .[H]e trotted out the staid old phrases this week after a 22-point victory
    over a talented but eventually somewhat star-struck Boston College team.
    "They play with great confidence and toughness,'' lauded Krzyzewski.
    ''They're good, really good.
    ''BC, if they stay healthy, are really going to be a tough out for
    somebody,'' continued Coach K, possibly staining his pants. ''They are a
    tough match up. I really admire the way they play. You look at the history
    of the team the last three years and where they came from and where they
    are, and this is one of the great coaching jobs in the country."
  • The first time I talked to Krzyzewski face to face was after a Florida
    State-Duke game in Tallahassee where, for the first 38 minutes of the game,
    Duke held a 21-2 free-throw attempt advantage IN THE LEON COUNTY CIVIC
    CENTER, Florida State's home court. Since nobody else dared ask about that
    advantage - which really tilted the game in Duke's favor - I did.

The one thing we try to keep in mind is that we don't really know that much
about the game. We might, possibly, know more than the average fan, but maybe
not, and just because we can write well enough for people to want to read it
doesn't mean that we can coherently criticize coaching unless the problems are
so glaringly obvious that you couldn't miss it. Like for instance State's
offense. But even there we don't know why their offense sucks so
bad. Do they not work on the fundamentals enough? Are the coaches
incompetent? How would we know?

The one thing we do know, and are fairly certain of, is that Krzyzewski has a
philosophy and he sticks to it. He stuck to it when the local press was
ripping him early in his career for not playing zones; he didn't
budge. The philosophy is simple: Duke plays man to man defense. Duke plays
motion offense. Duke players earn playing time in practice. When you earn trust,
you advance. It's very similar to how elite military units train, actually.

Just a couple of other points: everyone who went to the B.C. game knows it
was not an easy game. It was very tough. And Krzyzewski is absolutely
correct in praising Al Skinner's remarkable job there. B.C. was more or
less trashed when Jim O' Brien left and took Scoonie Penn with him. B.C.
was in a major hole, and Nogowski shows his ignorance of college basketball in
general, and this game in particular, by not understanding how great a job Al
Skinner is doing. National coach of the year candidate? Damn right he is.
And as far as any Pat Kennedy team and defense goes...c'mon. You don't have to
be a basketball genius to understand that his teams have always played weak
defense. They didn't get to the foul line because they didn't play hard,
and because they sat in a zone most of the time. Duke by contrast takes the ball
to the hole as much as possible. Kennedy's pattern is repeating itself at
DePaul, where he is assembling tons of talent and yet underachieving. Outside of
a handful of loose cannons, no coach is going to say "we got to the free
throw line more because we play hard and they don't, plus their defense is
pathetic." Generally speaking, that's been true of Pat Kennedy teams.

It's a pretty meaningless article for the most part, so we wouldn't get too
worked up about it. You have to keep it in perspective: this is a nasty column
written by a guy who covers basketball in Tallahassee. There's no worse fate we
could wish on a guy than being a basketball reporter in that town. It also
says something about his standing in the field, and so given that, maybe it's
not a surprise that a coach would treat him with contempt. Thankfully,
there are a lot of very savvy ACC reporters, like Al Featherston, AJ Carr, Gregg
Doyell, Eddie Landreth, Barry Jacobs and Lenox Rawlings, among others, and
you'll notice at press conferences that coaches speak to them warmly and with