Duke basketball returns with veteran leaders, high expectations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed life after Zion, what he likes about his latest team and even NBA draft expansion at Tuesday's ACC Basketball Media Day.

The Blue Devils are coming off a season where they started four of the nation's Top 10 consensus freshmen yet fell short of a Final Four.

"Our program has been one of the best ones, and it's not the only one, but it's one of them," Krzyzewski said. "I think if you're going to have an outstanding program, you have to have high expectations."

The iconic coach also weighed in on California's recently passed pay-for-play law.

Last month California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that goes into effect in 2023 allowing athletes at universities in his state make money from their images, names or likenesses. The law also bans schools from kicking athletes off the team if they get paid.

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Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski discusses California pay-for-play law.

Krzyzewski addressed the legislation Tuesday, calling it a "complex" issue.

"There's not a single answer," Krzyzewski said. "The fact that people are talking about it, taking action with a bill ... I bet that by the time this season's over, you're going to see dozens of states passing this legislation."

Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford added that he is "open-minded" when it comes to college athletes being paid for endorsement deals.

Krzyzewski also said Tuesday that he won't be surprised if the NBA expands its annual draft to include more than two rounds in the not-so-distant future.

With the league's increasing reliance on the G League to develop young players, Krzyzewski said: "if I'm the owner of an NBA team and I have a G League affiliate I don't want to just protect two guys - I want to protect everybody."

Krzyzewski said that could have an impact on the college game with more players turning professional earlier so they can get paid.

He said the NBA isn't going to stand still - and college athletics can't either, adding "we cannot keep our heads in the sand. ... We are not good game planners. We are very reactionary."

He also said he expects the G League will increase in popularity, predicting it won't be long before its games are broadcast on national television.

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Duke's Javin DeLaurier is excited for the upcoming season.

As for his own team, Krzyzewski pointed out that the talent gap between his starters and bench has narrowed significantly from last season when high-flyers Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish dominated the court and the headlines.

"Each year we have a different team," Krzyzewski said. "I like my group. Not that I didn't like my group last year, but this group, they really like one another There's not the separation that we've had from our starting five to our bench.

"The balance and togetherness, hopefully, we'll produce something really good for us," he added.

Duke senior forward Javin DeLaurier said he's "excited" about the upcoming season and looking to erase some of the disappointment from an Elite Eight exit last season when the Blue Devils seemed destined for a run at another national championship.

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Duke's Javin DeLaurier talks about expectations for the team.

"For us, it's more about us setting goals and knowing whether or not we can achieve them," the 6-10 DeLaurier said. "For the guys who've come back, we've been on some teams where we've been a play or two from that, you know, that Final Four."

DeLaurier said the team is looking forward but acknowledges the missing opportunities.

"We carry that disappointment," he said. "And we think about it every day."

The Blue Devils will again be favored to compete for an ACC title and perhaps bring Krzyzewski his sixth national championship.

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Duke's Jack White on pressures of upcoming season, media frenzy.

Duke doesn't waaste any time getting into the swing of things; the season opener is against fellow heavyweigh Kansas on November 5 in Madison Square Garden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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