One day before Duke defeated
in its ACC opener, coach Mike Krzyzewski summoned his players into Cameron Indoor Stadium and asked them to look at the banners there. Miami
Twelve times in the past 14 seasons, the Blue Devils have placed first in the ACC in the regular season, won the ACC tournament, or accomplished both of those objectives.
“Now it’s your turn,” Krzyzewski said he told the players. “And you don’t win one of those without showing up every day in our conference. And you don’t play for your total record. You play for your ACC record.”
Even though his teams have captured four NCAA titles, Krzyzewski still savors the opportunity to win championships in the ACC. If you grew up in an old fashioned neighborhood, as Krzyzewski did in
, there’s something special about competing against your local rivals even if you’ve gone on to national (or international) acclaim. Chicago
Although Duke won the NCAA title just last season and owns the No. 1 ranking in the polls, Krzyzewski is taking care to explain each step of the journey to his current team.
Despite the Blue Devils’ talent and last season’s experience, just two starters – seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler – are back. The other players are developing their roles and finding their way.
And Krzyzewski’s message Saturday – that an ACC banner is something to be cherished – brings important perspective to a growing team.
“That’s the way we’ve approached it, especially since the mid-90s,” Krzyzewski said. “And I think we get better as a result of doing that. There’s just a different level of intensity by everybody [in ACC play]. It means a lot.”