SAN FRANCISCO — Mike Krzyzewski says the public nature of his farewell tour as Duke’s basketball coach has come with a price.
“It wears on you a little bit because everywhere you walk, everyone is taking a picture of you and they’re watching everything,” Krzyzewski said Wednesday. “Look, that gets old. You know, that gets old.”
Krzyzewski made the remarks in advance of the men’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup between his second-seeded Blue Devils and third-seeded Texas Tech – and also explained why he chose to announce his plan to retire after this season before the season even began.
He referred to a meeting last spring with Duke President Vince Price.
“I told him I would like to coach one more year, and if that was okay with him,” Krzyzewski said, “but I wanted to announce it in the spring or early summer because I didn’t want to recruit in an unethical manner where you are telling a kid that he might play for you, and then you’re going to pull the plug.
I agreed to that, and then they went through a selection process.”
The selection process led the university to naming Duke assistant coach Jon Scheyerwhich Krzyzewski said was “a great decision on their part.”
“I’ve just tried to jump in and do this season like I do any other season, without thinking it’s going to be my last one,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave the program after COVID 13-11 (during the shortened 2020-21 season).
“I love Duke. I love our program. I felt that continuity and how we might continue to have continuity was extremely important, and I think it’s worked out great. Not good. It’s worked out great.”
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Indeed, the Blue Devils are 30-6, coming off a stirring 85-76 victory over Michigan State in the Round of 32, and Krzyzewski still has a chance to win his sixth national title with one of his youngest squads ever.
But Krzyzewski acknowledged the public nature of his retirement has put extra pressure on his players.
“…I feel for my guys,” he said.
At times the young Blue Devils have appeared to buckle under that pressure – such as a 91-73 loss to North Carolina in Krzyzewski’s last home game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.
But in the NCAA Tournament, Duke has marched into the Sweet 16 for the 26th time of Krzyzewski’s career. But the first time in which before each fielded questions about his impending retirement from him. And how have you stayed focused?
“I’ve been fortunate to be on a very public stage for a long, long time, and in my young days I had great training at the United States Military Academy, and in five years as a military officer to focus on the job at hand,” he said. “That’s your orders. That’s your mission. It’s not about the battle you won. It’s about the battle you are going to fight.
“Then when it’s over, there’s going to be another battle.”
But eventually, the last battle.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism