Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s life isn’t about playing games (as we know all too well). And it isn’t about listening to accusations of officiating bias towards Duke, either, as the Winston-Salem Journal’s Lenox Rawlings would learn.
After stewing over the foul chowder for two weeks, Krzyzewski picked up the flaming torch and threw it back into the mob. When a gentle reporter asked about Duke’s general foul-shooting goals, Krzyzewski was waiting. He delivered his simmering message while barely grazing the philosophy that superior teams should try to make more free throws than they let opponents attempt.
“One of the first things is, this year we’ve been ahead,” Coach K said. “When everyone’s talking about the Boston College game, 14 of our free throws…. were in the last 3 minutes of the game. We’re driving the ball.
“What we do – I’m not going to give out all of our things – we teach free-throw stuff. Like, if you have a deep team and you play nine guys, each one can have two fouls. Is your team in foul trouble? For me, it is, because that means you get to the double (two free throws after 10 team fouls). They don’t understand team fouls. So, we’re playing a team that’s deep, we like to try. That’s why I’m a little bit upset, because we actually teach these things. We change our offense. We drive more. If we’re in foul trouble, we will not play defenses as hard and all those things, but we teach team fouls.”
He drew a breath and continued.
“Ironically, the next week Boston College played and they shot 50 free throws and Wake Forest shot l4. Did anybody say anything about it? Tell me. Of course not, because it wasn’t Duke. No, no, the situation wasn’t Duke, and the only way we can win is if we’ve got that. That’s crazy.”
Krzyzewski inhaled and turned the conspiracy theory into a boomerang.
“Also,” he said, “when anyone asks me about free throws or favoritism, my first question is: Do you think the game is fixed? Are you asking if the officials don’t have integrity? That’s a hell of a statement. Come on. Or when a commentator says that? Be careful about what you say. Don’t do a superficial analysis because it really shows people in basketball that you’re superficial. Do an in-depth analysis of why it happens and don’t denigrate the officials and challenge their integrity because that’s not good for the game, because that’s not what’s happening.”