Friday, March 24, 2006

The Coach K Myth

Let me start off by saying Mike Krzyzewski is a very good coach. He's an excellent recruiter and perhaps no other coach in the country prepares his team better. His Duke teams expect to be great and for the most part they play the role well. However, in recent years Coach K has continually been outcoached in March. Year after year Duke has lost leads and failed to execute down the stretch dashing their championship aspirations in the process. Tubby Smith, Jim Calhoun (twice), Mike Davis and now John Brady of LSU have gone toe to toe with Coach K and come out victorious. John Brady?

In Duke's latest March loss to LSU senior JJ Reddick was completely ineffective and while some will blame Krzyzewski for relying too much on the nation's best shooter, my take is quite different. First it's important to note that Duke had one it's weakest supporting casts in years. Dockery gave them nothing on the offensive end and even failed to make an impact with his trademark defense. Nelson is an absolute bum who missed several wide open shots including an embarrasing brick of a wide open layup. McRoberts and Paulus showed flashes but, ultimately made too many freshman mistakes. Shelden Williams was dominant at times but as usual late in the game Duke went away from it's inside game.

Duke lost this game because they allowed LSU to impose their will and dictate the terms of the game. LSU's advantage was it's size and athleticism, so the Tigers crashed the boards and defensively hounded Duke's non-athletic perimeter players. Coach K's inability to counteract the LSU defense and free up his best offensive player was his team's downfall. Couple that with the fact Duke was prevented from going inside to Williams late and the outcome was inevitable. Great coaches are able to devise a gameplan that will exploit the other team's weaknesses and play to their own strengths. Great coaches are also able to counter and adjust to the opposing teams offensive and defensive schemes. When it counts, Coach Krzyzewski has too often been unable to do either.

Other thoughts on the game:

"Big Baby" will not be a factor at the next level. He's mobile for a big man in college. He will get used like Paris Hilton's birth control at the next level.

JJ Reddick will have a solid NBA career (no all-star appearances) as a shooting specialist. No one in the NBA save maybe Ron Artest plays defense like he saw last night, not to mention no team will assign their defensive specialist to him.

Shelden Williams has an akward post game but he has a knack for blocking shots and his post game is effective. Think of Boozer with less offense and more better defense.

Josh McRoberts needs more polish but, I see a potential star. (at least in college)
Paulus needs to figure out how to score consistently. His decision making will get better.

LSU will not make the the Elite 8. They were the perfect opponent for Duke (long and athletic) but, they're not really a "better" team than the Blue Devils.


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