It’s not about the basketball for Mike Troy.
He is a 48-year-old investment banker from Greenwich, Conn. He realizes that five days at Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s K Academy fantasy camp won’t make him an NBA prospect or a playground legend.
“I may be small, but I’m slow,” Troy said humbly. Troy is back at the K Academy for the third time because he enjoys the camaraderie. Campers spend $10,000 to be coached by and mingle with the Duke staff and former players. Mike Gminski, Christian Laettner, Jason Williams and J.J. Redick are among the former Duke greats working at this year’s camp.
Proceeds go to the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund, so the fee is partly tax deductible. The Duke coaches and players enjoy the camp because it’s a reunion for them, but say they take the camp games seriously.
“They come here to get the experience of being coached and playing at Duke and being in the Duke program,” said Duke associate head coach Chris Collins. “We try to take it seriously and try to coach them just like we would if we were coaching our guys.”
Troy’s first adult camp experience came five years ago at Michael Jordan’s camp in Las Vegas, which Troy has attended twice. Troy said Jordan’s camp is like a trip to a fancy restaurant, while Duke’s is like a home-cooked meal.
Jordan played one on one with campers the first time Troy went but not as much the second time. “He’s cocky,” Troy said, “but deservedly so.”
Jordan’s camp has the glamour of the Las Vegas setting. Krzyzewski’s has more of a family atmosphere because the alumni of the Duke program return to their school to participate.
In both cases, the allure for campers is spending time with renowned coaches and players rather than aspiring to play like them.
“You pick up little things about the game and about strategy, but you’re not coming here to increase your knowledge of basketball by 30 percent,” Troy said. “You’re here to have fun.”
No big changes for assistants
Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski say their responsibilities haven’t changed much now that they have been promoted to associate head coach.
The former associate head coach, Johnny Dawkins, recently left to coach Stanford.
“We’ve all (already) been so fully entrenched with what’s going on with coaching,” Collins said. “We’ve had our hand in recruiting and game preparation, scouting, practice time, drills on the floor. We were very much involved in all those things, and I don’t think that will change.”
Both assistants will join Krzyzewski in China to coach the U.S. Olympic team. Collins said that in addition to being an honor, working the national team serves like a clinic for Duke’s coaches because they are exposed to new ideas.
It’s admittedly an adjustment when the coaches return to campus, though.
“You’re used to guys hitting nine out of 10 shots and guys playing at the top of the square and flying around,” Collins said. “You get back to the college level, and these guys are great, great talents. And it’s like, ‘These guys aren’t that good.’ You have to kind of put everything back in relative terms. Not everybody is LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.”
Williams a newsmaker
Center Shelden Williams, who’s with the Atlanta Hawks, has made the most news among the former Duke players recently.
Williams is engaged to one of women’s basketball’s most famous players, Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks.
“She has a national championship (at Tennessee),” Williams said, “and I don’t.”
Williams also had his vehicle carjacked at gunpoint in December. Two suspects were arrested. Despite being a victim, Williams said he isn’t walking around scared.
“I was in a grocery store parking lot next to a barber shop in broad daylight with no jewelry on. Nothing,” he said. “And they did that. So it’s something I can’t run from. It could happen to anybody.”
Early commitments a concern
The trend toward early commitments doesn’t make sense to Jason Williams. Though he was national player of the year as a junior at Duke, he said he wasn’t highly recruited until late in his high school career.
He can’t understand early commitments such as that of 6-foot-4 eighth grader Michael Avery of Lake Sherwood, Calif., to Kentucky.
“That’s the most humbling experience, for a coach to make an eighth grader appreciate what an opportunity he’s going to have at a university like this,” Williams said. “It’s not just basketball. Basketball is secondary.”
Wojciechowski also has concerns. “I’m not sure it’s really healthy,” he said. “You look at any program over the course of 12 months and 24 months, there’s amazing changes from year to year. How can you predict five and six years down the line what the program is going to look like? You can’t. So to make a decision that far out, I’m not in favor of it.”
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
It’s not about the basketball for Mike Troy.