Coach K says Duke won’t play remaining non-conference games
Mike Krzyzewski now says that Duke won’t plow through the remainder of its men’s basketball non-conference schedule.
Coach K announced Thursday that the Blue Devils will only play ACC games going forward, which eliminates games this month against Elon, Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb, all at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke’s next game will now be its conference opener Dec. 16 at Notre Dame.
“This is truly an incredible time and has been for our country and it’s at its worst time right now,” Krzyzewski said in a video message posted on Duke’s men’s basketball Twitter feed. “Making sure that we’re doing the right thing for our players, just for safety.”
The games against Gardner-Webb (Dec. 19, rescheduled from Nov. 25) and Elon (Dec. 6) had previously been postponed because of COVID-19 protocols at the respective schools. Charleston Southern was set to come to Durham on Saturday, but that game, too, was called off because of COVID-19 protocols at the visiting school, Duke said in a statement.
UPDATE: We will forgo our remaining non-conference regular-season games for the 2020-21 season. Next up is Notre Dame next Wednesday in South Bend. pic.twitter.com/z3uSVAXjqe
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) December 10, 2020
Krzyzewski also said that players will be allowed to return home for several days following the Notre Dame game, although they will need to be back on campus before Christmas Day so they can begin preparing for the remainder of the ACC schedule, which will begin Dec. 29.
“These kids need . . . they need to be with their families for a little bit, at least,” he said.
“Just for our fans out there, these kids go through a lot . . . they’re not paid employees and we need to take care of them,” Krzyzewski added.
Krzyzewski told reporters Tuesday night after his team’s 15-point loss to Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge that it didn’t feel right that college basketball teams are playing amid the coronavirus pandemic. He also seemed to hint at the decision he announced Thursday.
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“Do I think things should be done a little bit differently?” Krzyzewski told reporters. “Yeah. I mean, you know, a lot of kids, kids aren’t going to be able to go home for Christmas, probably a time where they should for mental health. We’re just plowing through this.”
One critic of Coach K’s comments post-Illinois, Alabama coach Nate Oats, asked whether Krzyzewski would have said such things had his team not just lost two non-conference home games. Krzyzewski said Tuesday that his reservations were not a product of his team’s play.
“I know somebody will take what I’m saying tonight, and make it like I’m making excuses,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t make excuses. We need to get a lot better. But for the good of the game, and the good of the safety and mental and physical health of our players and staff and whatever, we need to constantly look at this thing. And I think that’s, I think that’s a smart thing to do.”
Billy Heyen contributed to this report.