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Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils
Updated July 7, 2021
A new season dawns on the NCAA Basketball world. In this piece, we have NCAA Basketball News as the summer ventures onward. As always, at Vegas Betting, we have the latest news. Our focus happens to be on Mike Krzyzewski and his final season in college basketball with the Duke Blue Devils.
Last year did not go so well for Mike Krzyzewski and Duke
Unfortunately for the Duke Blue Devils, the 2020-21 NCAA Basketball season was an unmitigated disaster.
With all the COVID protocols and outbreaks, Duke was limited to just 24 games on the season. The coach was never able to get his team into much of any kind of rhythm. It was a season where Krzyzewski arguably felt that the season err Duke should not have even played.
The Blue Devils were up and down all season long losing to teams they never normally would have. Overall, Duke finished with a 13-11 record and just a 9-9 conference mark. The last time a Krzyzewski coached team was .500 in the conference was the 2006-07 season.
Several issues existed with Duke last season and maybe that is what weighed on the coach the most. Then, there was an 18-point drubbing at North Carolina in March where Krzyzewski could be seen so exasperated on the sideline. One wondered if the end was near then.
Duke would go on to the play-in round of the ACC Tournament. Not much was expected of the Blue Devils as they were 11-11 going in and had lost three straight games.
Mike Krzyzewski’s Conference Tournament Plot Twist
What happened next was so strangely poetic given the pandemic. Duke hammered Boston College by 35 points which were not entirely unexpected but it did draw notice. Then, there was the game against Louisville. The Cardinals were likely not to make the NCAA Tournament but they were 13-6 coming in. Duke had played them close twice — losing both times.
Duke stayed close in the first half and was up by one point. Then, in the second half, Duke went on a run throttling Louisville en route to a going away 14-point victory. It might have been the Blue Devils’ best performance all season long. That is why what happened next was so deflating.
Was this the impetus for the Mike Krzyzewski decision?
There will be a good deal of debate on this subject to last a lifetime. But, think about it, Krzyzewski earned the right to go out on whatever terms he wanted long before COVID broke out. Maybe the motivation was to play a full season in front of fans after what the last two seasons had wrought.
“While our season was different than any other that I can remember, I loved the 2020-21 Duke Basketball team and was honored to be their coach. We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are. I feel deeply for our players, who have done a terrific job all season in taking care of each other and the team.
I am extremely proud of their collective attitudes and effort, which could not have been stronger. We are disappointed we cannot keep fighting together as a group after two outstanding days in Greensboro. This season was a challenge for every team across the country and as we have seen over and over, this global pandemic is very cruel and is not yet over. As many safeguards as we implemented, no one is immune to this terrible virus.”
From 3/11/21 article via GoDuke.com
For the coach to decide to bow out in a year-long farewell seemed selfish on the surface but the reality is it was not. COVID forced the coach’s hand as he felt indebted to owe the players he coached one more season.
One thing is certain. Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils want to finish what they started building at the end of the 2020-21 NCAA Basketball season.
Looking ahead to the 2021-22 season for Duke
The Vegas betting guides will have their say soon enough. One presumption is that Matthew Hurt will be drafted very late in the second round come the NBA draft on July 29th. There is a possibility that he may not. Either way, it appears that Hurt is not part of Duke’s plans for now.
After that, it will become interesting from the current roster (not projected yet). Wendell Moore Jr. becomes a leader basically as D.J. Steward also left for the NBA Draft.
Furthermore, Steward may be the one out of the duo that comes back to Duke so that will be a story to keep an eye on. Oddly, these two players have both looked way less polished than a normal Blue Devils player. Would that be because of the player, COVID, or both? It’s a great question.
This is partly why the 2021-22 Duke basketball team could be even better come the Fall than they are already.
The growth of a player like Mark Williams and new forward Paolo Banchero will be storylines to follow as well.
As many have said, the path to NCAA Basketball glory is filled with lots of bumps and nastiness. The fans have suffered through a cut-off season and then watching Duke having its season cut off just as it appeared they were taking off. There is a renewed sense of optimism for Mike Krzyzewski this season with a “relatively normal” 2021-22 season expected. An NCAA Tournament spot is likely. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.
Chris Wassel is a skilled scribe who possesses a fervor for both sports and entertainment. Boasting a journalism background and over two decades of experience, he has crafted pieces that encompass a diverse array of sports including hockey, basketball, football, and others. His writing is characterized by its lucidity and sharpness, and provides a unique viewpoint on entertainment and political matters. While Chris primarily focuses on sports writing, he also writes about a wide range of subjects.