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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Mike Krzyzewski’s Finish at Duke Comes on His Terms

He also changed how he recruited. Krzyzewski once bristled at schools whose players left early for the N.B.A., and refused to allow players who did not graduate to have their jersey numbers hung in the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium. In 2015, he won his last championship with three one-and-done freshmen.

Over the years, Duke also began to look less squeaky clean — embracing the role of college basketball’s heel, and also occasionally drawing scrutiny over how a player (Lance Thomas) could afford $100,000 worth of jewelry, how jobs were procured for players’ parents (Chris Duhon and Carlos Boozer) or how court testimony suggested a star player’s family (Zion Williamson) was being plied with money.

Krzyzewski said on Thursday that what changed most was he began to listen more, which helped give him balance. As he grew older — and he still had college-aged players — it became a necessity. He learns from them about music, sneakers and pop culture, he said, quipping that he wears his athletic apparel “a little tighter than my body would probably want.”

“But I don’t adapt the principles of the program,” he said, adding. “Those will never die.”

One of those principles is at the heart of the succession plan: loyalty.

Scheyer, who grew up in suburban Chicago and captained the 2010 championship team, has something in common with every other Duke assistant in the last 24 years — he has played for Krzyzewski. The most successful of Krzyzewski’s progeny is one who left long ago, Quin Snyder, who is now coaching the Utah Jazz, the N.B.A.’s top regular-season team this year.

Scheyer is taking on recruiting duties this summer because Krzyzewski said it wouldn’t be right for him to recruit players he won’t coach.

Instead, Krzyzewski will pour himself into working with players for this year’s team, who return to campus for summer school this weekend. Now that an end date has been set, Krzyzewski spoke as a man who could easily shrug off all the reasons it is time to go. He sounded on Thursday like someone who was less intent on reaching the finish line than sprinting through it.

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