Postcard from Duke
Blue Devils hope small-ball can carry them past giants
Posted: Thursday October 18, 2007 2:08PM; Updated: Friday October 19, 2007 1:17PM
DURHAM, N.C. -- The main lights are off inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, and a rear-video projector sits in the center of the paint on the North end of the court, aimed at a screen that stands between the side of the lane and the three-point line. The Duke basketball team is clad in blue practice jerseys and seated across what, on game days, serves as its bench, staring intently at the silent, moving images from the previous day's workout. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is in a chair closer to the screen, analyzing his players' movements on the tape.
Every few seconds, it seems, he'll identify something new with his laser pointer, and offer quick bursts of commentary. "This is good here by Lance." "All this does is clog up the lane."
"Kyle, if you pick that up you have a dunk."
Video review is a normal part of the Blue Devils' routine, but what is abnormal on this October Tuesday is that Coach K has a wireless mic clipped to his black Duke polo shirt, and his voice is being projected into Cameron's upper level, where approximately 250 businesspeople are sitting in on what would otherwise be a closed practice. They have all paid between $1,350 and $1,600 to attend this week's Fuqua School of Business & Coach K Leadership Conference, a three-day event that includes not only this practice but also a gala dinner and speech by Krzyzewski, who's listed on its Web site as both Duke's head coach and "Executive-in-Residence, Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics."
Time and travel constraints prevent me from making preseason visits to all 336 Division I schools. But I'm pretty sure this is the only program whose coach's profile has transcended sport to the extent that one of his practices is now doubling as a corporate seminar.
As the lights come back on in the cathedral, a team of assistants breaks down the video equipment, clearing the court so players can stretch. They temporarily become the backdrop for a Coach K speech directed solely at the business folk; he looks up toward their perch, explaining why his players need the tape ("It's tough for them to visualize what happens on the court," he explains.) and then how his organization is structured: "Instead of trying to fit people in certain spots, we try to form an offense that fits the personality of the team at this point," Coach K says.