It's been a summer of changes for Coach K

Joe Mazur Image
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
It's been a summer of changes for Coach K
In his final season, Duke coaching icon Mike Krzryzewski reflects on the changing basketball landscape and deals with the loss of a beloved pet.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- After a COVID year off, the K Academy is back and gets going Thursday. It's a fantasy basketball camp at Duke to raise money for the Emily Krzyzewski Center.

Campers spend a good deal of money to come play and be coached by Blue Devils legends, including Mike Krzyzewski himself. This hasn't been a typical summer for Coach K. Usually he spends a lot of time recruiting, but those duties now belong to the next on the throne, Jon Scheyer.

"I was ready to not be on the road. That's one of the reasons not to continue is ... it's not like I hated recruiting, just time," Krzyzewski said. "Like the amount of time you have to spend and commit to be really good every year."

Not traveling means Krzyzewski has been able to spend some of that time with current players -- something that he couldn't do last year.

"The one thing I was disappointed with last year was not being able to develop the level of relationships you need to really do well," he said. "That's no one's fault, it just happened, but it's not happening this year."

Building relationships can only help.

"Last year, I don't think we came here until August," said junior Wendell Moore Jr. "So, we would have just now been coming onto campus. But the freshman have been here since June 1 and the rest of the returning guys came here at the end of June, so we've been here about month together. Just getting to play with each other."

Duke doesn't have the massive turnover to deal with like in years past and instead has nine returning players. Senior Joey Baker is one of them. He said the team is amped for a special year.

"There's definitely a buzz about it, but they're not changing the way they are doing anything," Baker said. "I mean Coach has always given everything that he has."

Krzyzewski is fully behind the changes going on with student-athletes, including the ability to financially gain from name, image and likeness. He said that if small changes had started decades ago, the NCAA wouldn't need a mass overhaul now.

"Big business is constantly changing. College sports is big business," Krzyzewski said. "It never wanted to change and now, boom."

Krzyzewski is encouraging all of his players to get counsel to help guide them through these uncharted financial waters.

"I think our guys are doing a good job with it," he said. "I can't tell you what they are making or what they're doing. Actually, that's their business. Overall it's been, for us, it's been very good."

Things haven't been all rosy for Krzyzewski this summer. He lost his 12-and-a-half-year-old dog, Blue.

"He was my buddy, and for any of you who have pets, you know how that is," Krzyzewski said.

The coach said his family hasn't yet "recruited" a replacement pet.