The truth about K

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2005

This week brought many great sport events.

From my theory of a boring Finals being proven wrong, to yet another dramatic U.S. Open, it’s been quite a week.

But the real news of the week is Duke star forward Shavlik Randolph opting for a lucrative career in the NBA.

Now anyone who knows anything about basketball would tell you that Randolph’s chances of being drafted are about as good as my chances of having more than ten people read this column.

Unless the former Dukie becomes an NBA superstar he will become arguably the most overhyped high school player ever to come out of North Carolina.

Randolph was touted as the best player to come out of the state after his senior year in high school and was sought after by every basketball powerhouse in the nation.

But his college career was filled with disappointment and not living up to high hopes.

Which brings me to my real point, so I’ll just flat out say it.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s inability to develop players.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have never once doubted Coach K as a great college basketball coach and even reluctantly admit that he is the greatest coach in the game today.

In comparison to two of the greatest coaches of all time in John Wooden and Dean Smith, Krzyzewski holds his own.

Although no one will ever have more national championships than Wooden (10, including seven in a row), Coach K has more wins.

Krzyzewski already has more national championships than Smith and, if his back holds up, will challenge Smith for all time wins.

But where Coach K pails in comparison to these coaches is the players he has produced.

For every great NBA player produced by Wooden (Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, etc.) and Smith (Michael Jordan, James Worthy, etc.), Krzyzewski just doesn’t live up.

Now I’m sure you’re saying ‘What about Grant Hill?’

And you’re right, Grant Hill is a legitimate NBA star and should be recognized as such, even though he hasn’t played more than 67 games in a year the last five years.

But for every first round pick that Coach K and Duke has produced, one star just doesn’t cut it.

In the 90’s, Krzyzewski had more players drafted in the first round, 10, than any other coach. The next highest were Arizona coach Lute Olsen and then-Kansas coach Roy Williams with seven each.

In the 2000’s, Coach K has already added five more first rounders to his list, but none of them have become All Star’s either.

The only All Star’s from that list, besides Hill, are Christian Laettner, who was an All-Star once, and Elton Brand, also a one time All-Star.

Neither of these players, nor any of the many other Duke players who had a brief stint in the NBA, were ever named All-NBA.

Duke boasts 15 All-Americans since Coach K took over the helm and built the program, but again, only one of these All-Americans became an All-NBA player.

The theories for this discrepancy are many.

Some say that Krzyzewski wears his players out in college, while others say that he only teaches them how to play his way – a way that doesn’t work in the NBA.

Now I think the first theory is dumb, because Coach K’s players are amazing athletes and no matter how hard they’re worked in college, they are not going to be worn out for their entire career.

The second theory may have a point, but if that were true then you could call false advertising on American Express.

Because as Coach K says in the highly overused commercial, he prepares his players, among many other things, for life – a successful one at that.

Again, I’m not saying that Krzyzewski cannot coach. But what I am saying is that he cannot prepare players for a successful professional basketball career, which is completely supported by the numbers.

When one or two more Duke players become legitimate stars in the NBA, I will be the first to admit that I was wrong all along about Coach K and the Dukies.

But I’ve been waiting for a while.