Mike Krzyzewski began practice in preparation for his 42nd and final season as head coach.
Just don't use the "l-word" around Coach K.
"I told my staff and everyone around me not to use the word 'last,'" said Krzyzewski.
The first of the lasts for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Press conference ahead of the first day of practice. pic.twitter.com/o8coyE8sVE— Joe Mazur (@joemazurabc11) September 28, 2021
Savoring the journey isn't something Krzyzewski wants to engage in.
"Right now, I want to live, not savor. Being in the moment is what I've tried to do my entire career. In order to have the continuity of success and excellence that we've had, you can't savor anything. You better be in the moment that you're in," said Krzyzewski.
Duke Men's Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski will retire after 2021-2022 season
Duke's assistant coaches understand why this is so important.
"There is an emotional piece to this," said Jon Scheyer, who will take over as head coach after Krzyzewski's retirement. "It's important that we don't get too far ahead. That we don't get too sentimental. But also we are going to use that as motivation, and he doesn't want it to be about him."
What Krzyzewski wants is to "make a mark" in this decade. To do that he'll have to stay healthy. Yesterday both Krzyzewski and his wife took the COVID booster in one arm and got the flu shot in the other.
"Double dose and we both feel great. We're thankful to Duke that they take such good care of their people," said Krzyzewski.
Having turned over recruiting duties to heir apparent Scheyer, Coach K has already been able to do more coaching with this year's team.
"It's completely different from last year, the relationship aspect of it. I've loved this summer. Actually, my wife said "why didn't you do this like 10 years ago?" and I said, 'what, retire?'"
One thing that won't change is who's in charge on game day. Coach K will still call all the shots. Meanwhile, Scheyer is getting invaluable experience each step during the last (sorry coach!) hurrah.
"That runway of him being able to do that is so important and it's important for me," said Krzyzewski. "Much better than if all of the sudden in April I said, you know 'see you guys.'"
Duke starts with an exhibition game against Winston-Salem State on Oct. 30.