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Scheyer Responds

He’s not happy about what happened Saturday at Virginia. And why would he be?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Duke
Feb 4, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Jon Scheyer reacts to a call during the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 63-57. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Scheyer spoke Monday about the controversial ending to Saturday’s Duke-Virginia game where the officials completely blew the last play, a fact that the ACC quickly underscored with its own statement: “A foul was called on Virginia’s Ryan Dunn during a shot attempt by Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as time expired. Upon the officials’ review of the play, it was determined that the foul committed occurred after the clock reached 0.0. However, the play should have resulted in two free throws for Duke.”

Scheyer says he’s still upset, as he should be: “For me, I’m angry still. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t. Saturday was a disappointing outcome, and I respect (the conference) for putting that out. I respect them for acknowledging that, but that doesn’t change (that Duke got screwed).”

For his part, Virginia’s Tony Bennett showed his typical grace with a bit of competitive desire showing, saying this: “I understand if you’re Duke and a foul was called, you’d feel frustrated. I respect Jon, Coach Scheyer and certainly the Duke program, so I get that, I’ve been on that side and again obviously the favorable outcome was for us and if you’re a Virginia fan, you’d say I thought the block looked pretty clean.”

Fair enough. What’s he supposed to say? That’s reasonable and a bit compassionate too.

For Scheyer, as Scott suggested the other day, this is an inflection point. People are offering him all sorts of advice, most of it twattle.

It does remind you a bit of an inflection point Mike Krzyzewski had early in his career, where he went off after Dean Smith hit the scoreboard and rang up an extra 20 points.

Coach K was rightly indignant and there was a double standard that favored El Deano.

However, as he ascended and became Smith’s equal, he began to understand that Smith had earned a lot of his power. He certainly didn’t have it from Day 1. Art Heyman once said “Dean Smith? Why, he was the biggest joke around.”

Smith had his own inflection points, perhaps not least of all being hung in effigy on his own campus.

How they responded to those things made a big difference in their career.

We know what we’d like to see from Scheyer, but he knows himself best. Like Smith, like Krzyzewski and like Virginia’s Tony Bennett, he has to build first, often most of all when things are challenging. Then the respect will come.

We talk about UNC in today’s ACC Roundup, but in a nutshell, the Heels lost at home to Miami. Kentucky lost badly over the weekend to Georgia. There are members of both fan bases that are going to rip into their coaches. This is such a bad thing in principle, but even if you put that aside for the practical: it sucks. It creates bad energy.

We hope that Duke fans appreciate that we have a talented young coach and that we give him time, and the support he needs, to grow into the job. Because he’s going to be good.

On a related note, consider this for a minute. Nina King has been Duke’s AD for about 17 months. In that time, she’s hired Mike Elko and Kara Lawson, and was a major part in hiring Scheyer. Who has ever made a better string of hires in less than two years on the job? That speaks very well of her, and of Duke for being smart enough to promote from within.