A Busy Spring For Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — This has been one of Mike Krzyzewski’s busiest springs in recent years at Duke.
In the two months since the Blue Devils’ surprising NCAA tournament loss to Mercer, Krzyzewski helped one longtime assistant get his first head coaching job and filled two vacancies on his staff.
He sent two underclassmen to the NBA draft, brought in a transfer from Rice and prepared for his latest run leading the U.S. national team in a few months at the World Cup of Basketball.
And he immersed himself in a top-to-bottom evaluation of the program he’s spent 3½ decades building.
Krzyzewski said Thursday that “it’s been my busiest spring of the last decade, but a good one.”
Among those no longer around at Duke: Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, who left early to enter next month’s NBA draft; four role-playing seniors, including guards Andre Dawkins and Tyler Thornton; and assistant Steve Wojciechowski, who took over at Marquette.
Krzyzewski promoted Jon Scheyer to assistant coach after one season as a special assistant, and made recruiting coordinator Dave Bradley his director of basketball operations.
Another highly regarded recruiting class — led by McDonald’s All-Americans Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow — is preparing to arrive on campus to replace Parker and Hood. Duke also landed Rice transfer Sean Obi, the top rebounder in Conference USA last season.
“Now you bring in four new guys and a transfer, it’s kind of like starting over,” Krzyzewski said. “And so what we’ve done is kind of look over our whole program and see where we are at this time, every part of our program, to see where we can improve. … We see improvements coming, and there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Obi, who is 6-foot-9 and 265 pounds and averaged 9.3 rebounds as a freshman with the Owls, will give Duke the wide body and interior post presence it might have lacked in recent years. But that won’t come until 2015-16 because he must sit out this season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules.
“Our feeling is that, I’m not saying he’ll be this amazing player — I think he’ll be a good one — but I think he’ll be a steady player for us for the entire time that he’s at Duke,” Krzyzewski said.
Wojciechowski became the second Krzyzewski assistant in two years to land a head coaching job, following Chris Collins’ hiring by Northwestern in 2013.
Krzyzewski said Scheyer — a guard and key leader of the Blue Devils’ most recent national title-winning team in 2010 — brings “a new energy, a new way of working with the perimeter guys.
“I think a program needs that every once in a while,” Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski spoke as part of the “Getting Back to Giving Back” campaign, which encourages people who have undergone joint replacement surgery to give back to their communities.
Krzyzewski, who dealt with pain from osteoarthritis, said that had he not had his hips replaced in 1999 and 2002, he wouldn’t still be coaching.
“The very first thing is, you get back your movement, and then you get back your energy,” he said. “And then you get back your career. Then you feel like, ‘Let’s get more meaning in our lives.'”
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