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Duke’s Transition Involves Many Things, And This One Could Matter

Duke does many things very well but dealing with the media is at times a weakness

Duke Introduces Jon Scheyer
Jon Scheyer at his first press conference. It won’t always be this easy.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The much-discussed transition has moved on to the next stage, with Mike Krzyzewski stepping aside as Duke’s coach for Jon Scheyer.

Nolan Smith noted it when he said he wanted to talk to Coach K before he decamped for Louisville and before K kicked off his retirement with a trip to Las Vegas.

It’s a process to be sure and just because it’s gone on for a year doesn’t mean it’s entirely over.

One of the small things is adjusting Web pages. On GoDuke.com, both Krzyzewski and Smith are still listed and Scheyer, there at least, has not been promoted as of Thursday morning.

It’s a minor part of the transition but notable.

Obviously the recruiting has not suffered; if anything, it’s gone up, perhaps due to NIL sinking in.

No school is in a better situation for NIL income than is Duke.

But there’s so much more that is unknown. Jon Scheyer has talked about “noticeable changes” in how Duke’s offense is structured. But beyond that, there are people in the Duke basketball offices who have done things the same way for a very long time. How will that work? How will the overall structure change?

How will Duke relate to the media?

Local media has quietly complained for years that they are ignored for national outlets. Scheyer would be wise to work on those relationships. We doubt he has any idea of the depth of the resentment but if he struggles and doesn't have good local media relationships, he may regret not addressing that.

At a certain point, Duke kind of locked down and it was in many ways a rational decision. There were so many pressures on the program that paring back to basics and imposing discipline on external obligations was not just smart but probably necessary. We doubt we’d have had 42 years of Coach K if that didn’t happen.

But at the start of the Scheyer era, that’s not the best play. You still have to be aware of the pressures that Duke Basketball has to live with, but at the beginning, it would be really wise to build bridges and goodwill with the local media because when things get bad, they are more likely to help you if they feel appreciated than when they feel slighted.

We think his people skills are sharp enough to understand that.

Update - as a reader points out, the annual banquet is sort of the official end of the season so we expect Coach K is still technically the coach until then.