Here we go again: the media is jumping all over Coach K for his comments (and denial of said comments) to Oregon's Dillon Brooks.
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In case you missed it, after the Oregon game, Coach K spoke to Brooks, telling him he was too good a player to show off (this was after Brooks took a long three with time winding down).
Brooks mentioned the exchange after the game and Krzyzewski said it didn't happen.
On Saturday he reversed course and said it did happen and he apologized to Brooks and Oregon coach Dana Altman.
Here's his statement: "Today, I spoke with Oregon head coach Dana Altman and apologized to him for my remarks to Dillon Brooks following our game. It is not my place to talk to another team's player and doing so took the focus away from the terrific game that Dillon played. In the postgame press conference, I reacted incorrectly to a reporter's question about my comment to Dillon. Clearly, the story that night was about Oregon advancing to the Elite Eight, and the outstanding game they played. I sincerely hope I did not create a distraction for Coach Altman and his team at this critical time of year. Certainly, I have the utmost respect for the Oregon program and their tremendous accomplishments."
And here's what Brooks and Altman said in response.
Brooks: "It means so much that Coach K said he was sorry even though he had nothing to say sorry for. He’s just giving a player advice and trying to make me learn. You’ve got to take that advice and learn from it. I just love the game, I have passion for it and it’s hard right now."
Altman: "Someone that has accomplished what he has accomplished and makes a comment to one of my players is perfectly fine with me, and it didn’t bother me at all. It bothered a lot of other people. It didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother Dillon, and Dillon’s response proved that. … So it’s a dead issue."
Well not quite.
Years ago Coach K went to talk to the media and ripped the "double standard" that favored UNC.
There's still a double standard and it's different, but it still works against Duke.
Among the teams that survived to this weekend, we see Syracuse, with a coach that was suspended for nine games because of maladministration of his program.
We see UNC, a program that faces a very serious threat from the NCAA over academic fraud. Roy Williams said he knew nothing about it and has been given a complete pass (Indeed, Williams has often portrayed himself as a victim). He even hired Sean May, who talked during his playing days at UNC of being able to take independent study classes to free up time for basketball.
As far as we know, we're the only ones who have asked this simple and obvious question: is his degree legitimate? And if not, isn't UNC just spitting into the face of propriety? Why hasn't anyone in the media asked this very basic question?
Altman's own Oregon program was rocked in 2014 by allegations of a gang rape by three of his players - two of whom he played during the police investigation. Oregon even filed suit against the accuser.
None of this mattered much, not even the UNC scandal, which led to charges being filed and is still not resolved.
All of this is forgotten. We don't necessarily expect it to come up in the press conferences, but it doesn't come up anywhere, ever. It's like none of it ever happened.
It's the same story for Duke players. Christian Laettner is the archetype for the "Duke villain." His tap on Aminu Timberlake's stomach - and that's what it was because Timberlake laughed and clapped - is remembered, but forgotten are the LSU fans chanting "Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!" at Laettner.
Same for Rod Sellers, who slammed Laettner's head on the court. Laettner's "stomp" is remembered; Seller's slam forgotten.
More recently, the media, and perhaps ESPN most of all, found a new way to work the "hate Duke" angle with Grayson Allen's trips.
Did he do it? Yes.
But look at what else has happened lately.
At Iowa, center Adam Woodbury has a habit of poking other players in the eyes. He's done this at least three times, claiming that it just happens in the flow of the game.
Up at Maryland this season, Diamond Stone grabbed Wisconsin's Vitto Brown, wrestled him to the ground and slammed his head on the floor.
It was clearly malicious and potentially quite dangerous.
Most interestingly, Oregon State's Jarmal Reid tripped an official.
None of this really registered; you may not have heard of or remembered any of it.
But Grayson Allen? ESPN made sure you heard about that. ESPN made sure to plug the "hate Duke" angle. No doubt ESPN's web guys reported that the phrase generates a lot of traffic and ESPN is following that advice.
There's really not much anyone can do at this point. The media has a double standard and likes it. It sells it, gleefully.
It's happy to target a 19-year-old kid with terms like hate and villain even while it ignores his many good points and also ignores far worse behavior by other players. Eye poking? Head slamming? Tripping officials?
Those guys are at schools that don't move the needle. Nobody cares much about Iowa, Maryland or Oregon State outside of their own fan bases. But Allen? Coach K?
It's not going to stop, we understand that. ESPN and the others are using this to push product. But we would be remiss if we didn't point it out the cynicism of that approach.