By TOM SHANAHAN
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said college basketball needs to reassess its ongoing approach to the season while COVID-19 outbreaks are rising within the sport and throughout the country.
Krzyzewski spoke after the No. 10-ranked Blue Devils (2-2) lost 83-68 loss to No. 6 Illinois (4-1) on Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
He pointed out in October the NCAA committees reached decisions to start the season on Nov. 25, but the “committee” approach hasn’t responded to changing circumstances.
“Basically, it was more of a mentality to get in as many games as possible,” Krzyzewski said. “I would like for the safety – the mental health, the physical health of our players and staff — to assess where we’re at. In our country today you have 2,000 deaths a day. You have 200,000 cases, a million and a half last week. You have people saying the next six weeks are going to be the worst. To me it’s already pretty bad.”
The Duke-Illinois game was played as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but before the night was over two ACC/Big Ten games (Michigan State at Virginia and N.C. State at Michigan) scheduled for Wednesday were canceled or postponed among more than a dozen across the country.
“Do I think I things should be done differently? Yeah,” Coach K said. “A lot of kids are not going home for Christmas and it’s probably a time they should for mental health. Were just plowing through this.”
He also mentioned texting with Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes, whose son and five players have tested positive.
“We should get updates on how many programs are on pause,” Krzyzewski said. “How many cases there were. What’s going on instead of just plowing through.
“But I know somebody will take what I’m saying that I’m making excuses. I don’t make excuses. We need to get a lot better, but for the good of the game, the mental health of our players and staff, we need to constantly look at this thing. I think that’s the smart thing to do.”
Krzyzewski added with vaccines about to be made available is another reason to reassess playing games at this time.
“I know the NCAA is worried about the end game. They’re not as worried about the game we’re playing right now.”
He has long called for a “Czar” in basketball to handle difficult matters that arise impacting the sport.
“Who is that you talk to,” he said. “You’re asking me. Do you know who to call to ask about this?
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055