The New York Post has a piece up about the succession at Duke and how it has been handled. Columnist Ian O’ Connor has a new book coming about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and he alleges that Duke offered Tommy Amaker before it offered the job to Jon Scheyer and also alleges that Krzyzewski talked Amaker out of taking it.
From the piece: “Coach K explained to Amaker that if he left Harvard to join the Duke staff as a successor-in-waiting for the 2021-22 season, the move would force the demotion of a Blue Devils assistant and ‘create an awkward dynamic with Scheyer.’ Realizing that he didn’t have his mentor’s blessing, Amaker left the call ‘heartbroken,’ according to someone close to him.”
Well let’s think about that for a minute.
It would be one thing for Duke AD Nina King to offer Amaker the job. She’s the boss and it’s her prerogative to do so. But how did that work into Amaker having to be told he couldn’t come back as coach-in-waiting? Wouldn’t that be a staffing decision made by Coach K?
The suggestion that Scheyer would be in an “awkward situation” is the only part that rings true.
Something about that just is off. It doesn’t really make sense unless the decision was made and then changed. But who would have made it?
We can’t imagine that King is that heavy-handed either. Something just seems fishy about the whole story (Update: according to this source, it was Duke president Vincent Price who wanted Amaker).
O’ Connor also talks about what Coach K learned about succession at West Point and we’re sure he did. But he also learned quite a bit more recently from how UNC handled life after Dean Smith.
Smith, you may recall, tried to run the program from behind the scenes, to the point where Matt Doherty infamously said Smith hired him. Not then AD Dick Baddour, not UNC, but Smith.
We have no doubt whatsoever that Coach K paid extremely close attention and noted the problems and missteps. We don’t think he’s going to try to treat Scheyer - or Amaker, had it been Amaker - as a puppet to be manipulated. He is certainly going to do everything he can to maintain Duke as a power, but despite every warm thing he has said about Smith, we’re sure he realizes the man’s overreach and what it cost UNC.
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