Thursday, February 5, 2009

Krzyzewski: Don't forget this loss

When it was suggested to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski late Wednesday night that sometimes teams are better off forgetting about bad losses and moving forward, he wasn’t in a generous mood.

“Our players shouldn’t forget this loss. This is as bad as you can play,” Krzyzewski said. “You can’t say, ‘Oh, that’s OK.’ Not if you’re wearing a Duke uniform.”

As good as Clemson was Wednesday night – and the Tigers were outstanding – the more striking image was seeing Duke look so hopelessly overwhelmed.

It doesn’t happen to the Blue Devils.

But it did at Clemson and it raises questions about what’s next for the Blue Devils, who have consecutive home games against Miami and North Carolina over the next week.

“You never forget this loss,” Krzyzewski said. “Going into another game, we can’t hang on to it but you can never forget a game like this one.”

Duke melted against Clemson’s defense, which wobbled them with their full-court pressure in the first half then continued to bother them in the front-court with straight-up man-to-man pressure in the second half.

Kyle Singler had five turnovers. Nolan Smith had four. The total was 16 but it felt like twice that many.

“They know how to turn you over and you have to be strong with the ball,” Duke’s Gerald Henderson said. “You have to make quick decisions and value the ball. We didn’t do any of that.”

Clemson also wanted to make it a frontcourt game and it worked. Trevor Booker was dominating with 21 points, eight rebounds and an overall impact bigger than the numbers.

K.C. Rivers also had a superb set of numbers with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven steals.

“Rivers and Booker are two of the best players in the country,” Krzyzewski said.

Which raises the question of where Clemson fits in the ACC and the national picture.

After another 16-0 start, the Tigers were dismissed after losing to Wake Forest and North Carolina. But winning in the last minutes at Virginia Tech then dominating Duke changes the perspective.

“It was an excellent win,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. “We really embraced the atmosphere and we were comfortable.”

-- Ron Green Jr.


Anonymous said...

Oliver Purnell has done a fine job at Clemson. Now I know why I was worried about this game. Clemson came to play.

Adam said...

This is not as bad as it will get this year. Duke is overmatched and is not playing as a team. I thought they were better than last year and they are, but everyone else is better too. i see another first or second round NCAA loss in the crystal ball.

Anonymous said...

It would have been good if the Panthers coaches had made statements more like Krzyzewski's after the way we played against Arizona instead of trying to act like it was no big deal in an overall "great season."

No, it's not ok.

MichaelProcton said...

NB, the difference between this loss and the Panthers' is all about timing. Krzyzewskiis getting his team focused on the improvement his team can make between now and the tourney (or the NCAA playoffs); bashing your team after the season is over serves no purpose.

Take a look at what K said immediately following the West Virginia loss in the Tourney last season: "In saying that, I'm proud of my guys. I love coaching these guys. I have great kids and they gave us a great season. It's tough to end on a loss, but the season was a really rewarding one and a happy one for me. I really loved working with these kids."

I challenge you to find a coach who trashed his playoff team after the last loss of the season, no matter how disappointing the loss.