No chill mode for Coach K's 'beatable' Blue Devils
Coach Mike Krzyzewski says that losing Ryan Kelly to injury has made Duke beatable.
Before the UNC-Duke rivalry week matchup on Wednesday night, coach
“We will never be the team that we were with Ryan, and so we’re a different team and we are not as good,” Krzyzewski said.
“We’re very beatable, but we can beat people. We’re more beatable. A lot more beatable now.”
Beatable seems like a bit of an overstatement.
The Blue Devils are No. 2 in the league, have the Nos. 2 and 3 scorers in the ACC and are in the top 15 in scoring in the conference.
Can you say perfectionist?
They certainly weren’t beatable on Wednesday night, when the Tar Heels fell for the 11th time to a top-five Duke team in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Sure the game was close -- Duke led by just four in the final minute -- but that’s what rivalry week is about.
Since Kelly was injured in early January and was projected to miss 2-4 weeks, it seems Coach K and the Blue Devils are not trying to coast through the season on just their good looks and great name. But despite their best efforts, they've slipped twice -- an eight-point loss to NC State and a whopping 27-point rout by Miami.
Before Duke lost Kelly, he led the team in three-point percentage and averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds.
“When we have Kelly, [Mason] Plumlee and [Seth] Curry on the court, we’re 15-0 and the other guys are really good: Quinn Cook and [Rasheed] Sulaimon,” Krzyzewski said. “You eliminate one of those three guys, and the weaknesses of all of us are showing up where they weren’t showing up when you had those three guys there. It’s a chemistry thing. It’s not just talent; it’s chemistry.”
Those loses were wakeup calls, and now the Blue Devils are all about squeezing the juice out of the lemons they were given and making it into Sweet 16 lemonade. Everyone from the starters to the freshmen at the end of the bench have to be ready to contribute.
“We've got to get loose balls. And that kid who -- it was OK for a freshman not to show up as well in a game -- now that freshman has to show up every game, every possession or else we've got a chance to lose,” Krzyzewski said.
This all-cylinders, no-chill mode Coach K is interesting. It could mean trouble for the rest of the league. Knowing your weaknesses is one thing, but embracing them and attempting to turn them into strengths, that is the thing that winners are made of.
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