Mike Krzyzewski had a Zoom press conference Wednesday morning. It was a curious press conference and a somewhat frustrating presser for those trying to find out more about this year’s Duke team. We had a lengthy sidebar about Krzyzewski not taking the Lakers job back in the day, a discussion of Gene Banks’ impact on Duke basketball and Nolan Smith being named Tar Heel of the Month by the Raleigh News and Observer.
But some useful information did emerge.
The 27-game schedule is almost finalized.
Duke tests daily for COVID-19 and no one associated with the program, players, coaches, support staff has tested positive.
And yes, Krzyzewski defied fate by telling us that Duke has had no injuries.
Much of what he said confirms what we’ve been hearing from other sources, a young, deep, athletic team. Living in a bubble with on-line classes has made it easy to concentrate on classes and basketball, leaving a group that is “very close as a unit.”
“These kids are really together. We’re athletic, we’re young. We don’t have as much separation from one to 11 but we’re getting more the more we practice. They’re making each other better. There’s competition because when you go five-on-five you’re going against five other good players. They love one another, they work hard, they’re in the gym all the time.”
The two sophomores were singled-out for special praise.
“Matt Hurt has been terrific. He’s 20 pounds heavier, confident, he doesn’t look like he should be as quick as he is but he is. In the last two weeks Wendell [Moore] has really taken another huge step forward.”
And the point guards. “Goldwire has been outstanding. A kid that has really come on, especially this week, is Jeremy Roach.”
Krzyzewski also made an interesting comment for a coach in his fifth decade as head coach at Duke.
“Mark Williams is something we’ve never really had. He’s 7-1 with a 7-5 wingspan.”
Krzyzewski cautioned that Williams has been bothered by tendinitis throughout his career. But he’s fine now. Fingers crossed.
Krzyzewski was asked about freshman forward Henry Coleman’s impassioned speech on social justice earlier this year on the Duke campus.
“It was unbelievable. . . . He’s a freshman, he goes up and he doesn’t knock it out of the park, it’s a grand slam. . . . This kid is an even better player than I thought but as a person he’s the most energetic—he’s kind of loud really, in a good way. He’s not like your typical freshman. . . . We’re very lucky to have him.”
Krzyzewski’s always enthusiastic about his team this time of year. If he weren’t he’d probably be doing something else. But it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. That enthusiasm is almost always justified.
“We have a lot of pieces. We’re going to play a very up-tempo game. A lot of good pieces. So, we’ll be playing more people than we normally play but that doesn’t mean it will be equal playing. When you get separation the guys who separate need to play more and they will. All four of my upperclassmen have been unbelievably good with our young guys. We have a good mojo going.”
Good mojo is always a good thing.