Getting up close and personal with Coach K

Hey Coach K, as Carly Simon sang in her famous song… “You’re so vain”.

First of all, let me say I do have the ability to recognize greatness.  I am more than willing to admit that Mike Krzyzewski is one of the best basketball coaches to ever stalk the sidelines.  His record speaks for itself.

And I’m in no way attacking his coaching skills, as Duke rolled in to Littlejohn Coliseum at Clemson Sunday night and survived a hot start by the Tigers to earn a hard fought 73-66 victory.  This year Coach K is doing it with a young but very talented backcourt.

However, this column, or rant if you will, is not about a basketball game or how the end result cameto be.  You can call this an observation of the evening.  One of the benefits of my job as a photographer for the Greenville Journal is that I am able to get up close, and in many ways, in the middle of the action.

Sunday night at Littlejohn I spent the entire game on the baseline near the Duke bench, literally no more than ten feet away from Coach K.  We all know that Coach Krzyzewski is known for letting some colorful language fly throughout the course of a basketball game, and yes, I heard some of that, but nothing shocking or over the top.  Having played for a coach in high school that could let a string of obscenities loose that would make any sailor proud, profanity is not the least bit disturbing to me.

The “you’re so vain” part comes from this.  I am fairly certain that Coach K wears a little bit of makeup, I have a hunch that he uses “spray on hair” to cover an aging bald spot, and I am 100% convinced that he applies “Just for Men” to dye his hair jet black.

There has never been a coach of any program, much less a high profile basketball program such as Duke, that is not showing the wear and tear of the stresses of his job at Coach K’s age.  It’s just not going to happen.

The final thing I noticed is Krzyzewski whines a lot during and after a basketball game.  It doesn’t matter if it’s to the officials, his assistants, his players, or even to the media.

They say a team takes on the personality of their coach.  This was certainly evident this past week when many New York Jets players anonymously took shots at their own quarterback, Mark Sanchez, in a New York Post article.  New York Head Coach Rex Ryan has never let an opportunity pass to take a dig at another player or team, and unfortunately the Jets players followed his lead against one of their own.

The players at the end of the Duke bench like to whine as well.  This makes me question where this ability is ascertained.  It comes from the top, and witnessing this attitude left me less than impressed.  There were constant complaints about the official’s calls, missed shot from their own players, as well as the nearby Clemson student section.

Coach K even cut short Marc Dopher of WYFF TV in the post-game press conference when Dopher was trying to ask what he did differently to prepare his team for this trip to Littlejohn, which hasn’t been kind to the Blue Devils in past visits, as evidenced by Clemson’s 74-47 blowout win just two seasons ago.

“We face crowds like this everywhere we go, and we only remember championships” was Coach K’s curt response.  OK Coach, whatever you say.

Duke has a fantastic basketball program and a very good team this year that is only going to get better.   The Blue Devils have three guards that will give everyone they play a hard time as they shoot the ball with classic form.  Dukehas great size on the inside to boot.  Yes, they even have the egos to match!

Mark Sturgis is a Sports Talk Radio Host for WCCP FM, the Flagship Station of Clemson Athletics and a Photographer for the Greenville Journal.

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