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Jon Scheyer’s First Pre-Season Press Conference

Things appear to be going well.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Pittsburgh
Mar 1, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Duke Blue Devils associate head coach Jon Scheyer observes the Blue Devils warming up before the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Scheyer held his first pre-season press conference as Duke’s head coach and had a few things to say. The most interesting thing was about star freshman Dariq Whitehead. Scheyer said he is “ahead of schedule” and should be back “sooner than later.”

If you missed it, Whitehead broke a bone in his foot in late August and has had surgery to fix it. Here’s what Scheyer said:

“He’s headed in a great direction and he’s right on schedule as far as his recovery goes, if not even ahead, so we’ll just continue to work he’ll be able to progress and do more on the floor more on the court. And he’s not in a boot and he’s doing great, working his butt off, but really good news and we’ll continue to monitor him and bring him along, obviously, as fast as we can. We want him back out there but as safely as possible. There’s no rush on our end. We want him to be fully healthy and all the way back before he plays.”

He also talked about team chemistry and how this group is getting along - he says very well. He talked too about establishing trust and confidence in each other early.

Scheyer mentioned a few specific players. He said that Dereck Lively had been out for a couple of weeks but not why. He also talked about Jeremy Roach, calling him a winner and that he wanted him to talk more on court. That, of course, was something that Coach K pushed for decades.

He also talked about something called the Wim Hof breathing method. You can learn more about that here; maybe it’ll be useful.

He also talked about adding several grad transfers this year and said while Duke’s emphasis would be on getting good high school players, that bringing in guys who would help a winning culture was smart and it would be foolish not to go after guys like that.

Like his introductory press conference last spring, Scheyer started a bit slow but spoke with more confidence as he went on.

In general, it was a solid appearance. As he said at one point, he’s not Mike Krzyzewski, which is certainly true, but it took awhile for Coach K to build the public persona he evolved.

In fairness, Scheyer is still very new, but he’d probably be smart to emulate Krzyzewski and work on his presentation skills. If you remember, if you’re old enough, Coach K used to be a lot sharper in his responses to the media, at times verging on caustic. Over the years he tapped that down and if someone asked him something stupid, you could see that he was impatient or possibly even annoyed or angered, but he would either pause and make a joke or, when he wanted to say something harsher, he’d go...”well..” And he’d stop himself.

On a couple of occasions, Scheyer’s inexperience showed, but the only way to gain experience is to, well, experience things. He’ll be fine. Not that there were huge problems, but as someone who seeks to improve, he’d be wise to go back over the video to see where he could do better. We’re thinking of one point where he said “you guys don’t believe me,” or something like that. Krzyzewski was very precise in what he said in public. He learned to compliment reporters for good questions and to temper his responses with bad ones. And on occasion, he would find a way to turn those, for lack of a better phrase, into a teaching experience.

Then again, he wasn’t doing that in his mid-30s, when he was under immense pressure to win, and a press conference is hardly the most important thing Scheyer did Tuesday, let alone this week, month or year. He seemed in command and confident. The program is in good hands.