The avalanche is coming, an avalanche of emotion about Duke and Duke's impact on college basketball now that the Blue Devils have reached the 2004 Final Four.
Like the Blue Devils? You'll have plenty to read over the next week, fawning accounts of Mike Krzyzewski and his virtuous program. Dislike the Blue Devils? Plenty of material there, too, from media types eager to bravely tackle the Duke dynasty.
|No coach works the officials harder than Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.(AP)|
There was this ...
"Humble Krzyzewski leads Duke to Final Four."
And this ...
"Duke: The evil empire of hoop."
Obviously, those headlines and the stories they represent -- such paradoxical trains of thought -- can't both be correct. Or can they?
Over the course of Krzyzewski's 24 years at Duke, there has been much to like. There also has been much to dislike. For the past seven of those years I've had a front-row seat, and to this day I'm not sure which side of the Duke fence to call home.
I like that Coach K had the nerve, more than 20 years ago, to speak out against the officiating double standard enjoyed by North Carolina legend Dean Smith. I dislike that Coach K, now a legend himself, seeks that same officiating double standard through intimidation -- and has the nerve to say he doesn't seek it, or get it.
I like that the NCAA never sniffs around Cameron Indoor Stadium, aside from its investigation of ex-Blue Devil Corey Maggette's $2,000 in cash payments from club coach Myron Piggie. I dislike it that Duke's response was upraised palms as if, aside from Maggette's association with a known scumbag, how could Duke know anything like that might have happened?
I like that Coach K wants his wife, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren to sit as close to the Duke bench as possible. I dislike that Krzyzewski curses like Eminem, loudly enough for fans to hear.
I like that Coach K's players graduate, and that before the NBA made such a stand obsolete, that Coach K refused to hang a banner from one of his championship teams because one player hadn't graduated. I dislike that his players tend to major in the same subject, and that some have graduated in only three years -- an eyebrow-raising achievement considering the academic reputation of Duke and the time constraints on players.
I like that in press briefings Coach K will say more in 10 minutes than most coaches say in 30. I dislike it that his accessibility has gone down in proportion to his job security going up.
I like that Coach K truly cares for his players after their playing days are finished, even guys like Maggette and William Avery, whose early NBA departures rocked the program. I dislike that in recent years some of his players' parents have been moving to the Durham area with their sons and getting jobs with companies run by Duke boosters.
I like that Coach K does cool stuff like donate $1 million for a scholarship in his mother's name. I dislike that he sends out a press release to announce it.
I like that Coach K routinely stops the Cameron Crazies when they start a particularly cruel chant about an opposing player or coach. I dislike that Coach K routinely criticizes the Crazies for getting too "comfortable" with Duke's success, as if a million consecutive sellouts and fans camping out for weeks for certain games isn't enough.
I like that Coach K never uses the media to criticize his players. I dislike that he uses the media to mollify his team's reserves, perhaps in an effort to keep them from transferring, by talking up a player who had nothing to do with that evening's Duke blowout.
I like that Coach K genuinely seems to abhor the influence of sneaker-funded street agents. I dislike that Coach K makes more money from his Nike contract than anyone in the game.
I like that Coach K always credits the other team after a Duke loss, and if he blames anyone, he blames himself. I dislike that when he withdrew from the team in 1994-95 with exhaustion and back pain, Duke petitioned the NCAA to make sure the team's 4-15 finish was credited to interim coach Pete Gaudet.