No. 10 Duke fell in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge to No. 6 Illinois last night, 83-68. It was the second loss of the early season for Mike Krzyzewski’s team, a relative rarity for the powerhouse Blue Devils program. After the game, Coach K had plenty to say about the ongoing situation of college basketball being played during COVID-19.
The game was played with very few spectators at Cameron Indoor Stadium, making for a very strange atmosphere for a Duke game. Around the country, college basketball teams have been frantically scheduling and pushing games, as COVID-19 continues to spread uncontrollably throughout the country. After the game, Coach K expressed his concerns about continuing the season in this environment.
“I don’t think it feels right to anybody,” he said. “I mean, everyone is concerned. You know, we made an assessment or… I’m not sure who leads college basketball, you know. It’s done by committee… and anything that’s led by committee is not agile in handling a situation. And so we made an assessment, and there was a consensus. It wasn’t, like, well-planned that we’re going to start November 25. That was made without knowing if there’s going to be or the vaccine was, how many cases.
“Basically, it was more of a mentality of, ‘Get as many games in as possible.’ And I think I would just like, just for the safety, the mental health and physical health of our players and staff, for there… like, to assess where we’re at. You know, in our country today, you have 2000 deaths a day. You know, you have 200,000 cases, a million and a half last week. You have people saying that the next six weeks are going to be the worst. To me, it’s already pretty bad. And on the other side of it there are these vaccines that are coming out, that people say that by the end of the month, 20 million vaccine shots will be given, especially to our health care, to the people who need it. And by the end of January or February, another 100 million. Well, should we not reassess that? You know, just see what would be best?”
Here’s video of K expressing his concerns with playing basketball right now. pic.twitter.com/BnBwGJ2nvp
— Josh Graham (@JoshGrahamRadio) December 9, 2020
Coach K seems to be angling for a pause on the season, until a vaccine is widely available and games can be played with far fewer concerns. It is similar to what Iona coach Rick Pitino has been saying for a few months now.
“I was texting with (Wake Forest head coach) Steve Forbes last night, his own son got it. Five players got it. Really even, we should get updates as to how many programs are on pause a week, how many cases there were what’s going on. Instead of just plowing through,” Krzyzewski continued.
“I know the NCAA is worried about the end game. They’re not as worried about the game we’re playing right now. And who is it that you talk to? Like, you’re asking me, but do you know who to call to ask about that? And you know, we’re smiling and we’re laughing, but that’s sad, right? I think that’s sad.”
During his answer, Coach K acknowledged that many are going to bring up that he’s saying this after a pretty bad Duke loss. He, of course, is right about that.
“And, you know, look, I just got my butt beat a lot. So anything I say, someone can say, ‘Well he’s saying that because he got his butt beat.’ And you know, do I think things should be done a little bit differently? Yeah.”
Coach K is just frustrated that he can’t barge into Coronavirus’ locker room to teach the disease how to win with class
— B1G Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) December 9, 2020
Coach K is now very concerned about playing the rest of the season. Very weird timing 🤔 pic.twitter.com/kmGacyEDGB
— Fundamentally Sound (@FundamentallySD) December 9, 2020
Coach K’s narrative has changed just a bit now that he realizes his team stinks. I’m SHOCKED. pic.twitter.com/1tIJ0XZkBY
— RRinehart (@RRinehart2012) December 9, 2020
Duke keeps playing like this Coach K’s gonna get a bad back
— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) December 9, 2020
The jokes aren’t surprising, especially considering the timing of some of Coach K’s absences at Duke during his career, but at 73 years old it shouldn’t surprise that he has his own significant concerns about COVID-19. He’s also been harping on the NCAA’s inconsistent handling of the virus since April.
Timing aside, he brings up some very salient points. The best way to ensure that we have a relatively full college basketball season and NCAA Tournament may be to push things until a vaccine is widely available.
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