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Has Coach K Lost a Step?

Mike Krzyzewski is one of the most accomplished coaches in sports history, but has he lost a step?

Photo Courtesy of 247Sports

Duke Blue Devils head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, has lamented himself as one of, if not the best coaches in all of sports history. There’s no denying that. He has the most the wins ever in college basketball with 1059; furthermore, Coach K landed the top three recruits in the country this past season in RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and of course, Zion Williamson. With that being said, how has Krzyzewski lost a step?

First off, with Coach K’s legacy, he hasn’t and won’t lose a step in recruiting. It’s his actually coaching and development that’s faltered.

The Duke Blue Devils were the most talented team in the country this year. They have three no doubt lottery picks and maybe even a fourth, first-round pick in Tre Jones. Most people thought they would run through the tournament but that didn’t happen.

Duke didn’t cover the spread in any game they played and were bounced against Michigan State in the Elite Eight. Not only did they not cover the spread, but they could have also lost each of their last three games they played.

UCF missed a game winning layup and Virginia Tech missed a game tying tip in. The only reason Duke won these games was the outstanding play of Zion Williamson. They won those games in spite of Coach K.

In the final seven minutes of gameplay, Duke scored eight of their final 13 points off iso-ball or offensive rebounds. Three points were scored in a clear out two-man pick and roll, and only two points were scored out of a set. That play was a basic up-screen with RJ Barrett, and Zion cutting into the paint for a wide-open layup. Not only was their offense one dimensional, Coach K was reluctant to leave his zone press, letting the Knights hot three point shooting get them back in the game.

Next up was Virginia Tech. In the final five minutes of game time, Duke scored three points out of a set play, while the rest came from Zion and Tre Jones in transition. Once again, Duke was bailed out by the talent of Zion Williamson.

In the final three minutes of the Elite Eight, Williamson only had two meaningful touches. In those two touches, he dished out an assist and got an easy layup. Duke did not run any set plays, and every shot under 90 seconds to go was taken by a streaky RJ Barrett. How can the best player on the court not get any shots at the end of the game.

Finally, while reviewing a missed call Duke was gifted a free time out to draw up a play. Coach K didn’t make a play. He drew up an isolation for RJ Barrett, despite Michigan State not doubling Zion. The Spartans collapsed on everything in the paint, so any player was going to get met at the rim by a big defender. I find it very hard to believe Williamson wasn’t getting any of those touches.

These games were only a small sample size in Mike Krzyzewski’s lack of recent coaching. I have nothing against Coach K, but recently his great winning records have only been attained because of the great talent he’s recruited. Duke will continue to have earlier than planned exits in the tournament without a change of style at the head coaching position.

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