From the minute he walked into Scharff Hall on the campus of Duke University for his final preseason press conference, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski made one thing clear.
His last season before retirement wouldn’t be used to reflect on his 41 years at Duke. Instead, it would be his forty second chance to make history.
“For the last 4 decades, we have made a mark on college basketball,” said Krzyzewski, “and I’d like to make another mark before I leave.”
Krzyzewski, better known as “Coach K,” has been successful through an ever-changing college basketball landscape. Having won his first two championships back-to-back in the 90s, when nearly every player stayed through their senior year, his current success in the one-and-done era is a testament to his adaptability as a coach.
“Being in the moment is what I’ve tried to do my entire career,” said Krzyzewski. “In order to have the continuity of success and excellence that we have had, you can’t savor much of anything”
Recent seasons have brought varying challenges and structures for Krzyzewski, such as the coronavirus pandemic, increased roster turnover, and his personal health, but his commitment has been continuous, and will remain so through his final season.
Sitting with reporters near Cameron Indoor Stadium, where so many career moments occurred for the coach, Krzyzewski had a very relaxed demeanor, despite the significance of the occasion. He told reporters that he would be attacking the season as he has all of his past 41 at Duke.
“I told my staff and everyone around me not to use the word last,” he said. “I’m going after it the way I’ve gone after every year. “
While Krzyzewski will certainly be in the spotlight all season long, he’ll also share it with Associate Head Coach Jon Scheyer, who has already been named as Coach K’s successor.
Scheyer played for 4 years under Coach K, winning a title with him in his senior year in 2010, and has been coaching for Duke since 2014.
Krzyzewski announced in June that Scheyer would be taking the helm after this season.
Krzyzewski, clearly trusting in Scheyer’s abilities as a coach, described him as a “natural” and a “great relationship builder.”
Scheyer is equally confident in himself, despite having big shoes to fill.
“I’ve never been afraid to say how I feel,” Scheyer said, “I’m confident to say my two cents…in this role, I’ll lay it out there, but I also don’t feel like I have all the answers.”
While Scheyer is the future of Duke Basketball, fans are still focused on the present.
Coach K agrees: “Right now I want to live, not savor.”