As I watched the Elite 8 games this weekend, I was reminded that most people had Duke advancing past the first round. Naturally, I am not a Duke fan. As a former Wake player, the Cameron Crazies were sometimes a little over the top for me, especially when one of them would yell at me during warm-ups, “Hey, water boy, yeah you, water boy—gotta love a guy who is out there for the love of the game.” Mission accomplished for them I guess.
On a different note, have you ever watched a game and seen a Duke player over-communicating—constantly huddling up with their teammates any chance they get—what are they saying to each other anyway? They always do everything right and when Coach K says, “Every dead ball is an opportunity to communicate”—his players believe him and this is a good thing.
Several years ago, I was speaking to a company in the Carolinas and I jokingly informed the audience at the beginning of my talk that Coach K was supposed to be the speaker, but that he couldn’t be there because he and his wife were hosting a dinner party for all of the ACC referees. Even a few of the Duke fans chuckled. As much as roll my eyes at Coach K working the referees, I admire his leadership.
In a sports world where losing team’s coaches often give a cold, insincere hand shake to the winning coach after a game, I have watched Coach K on, more than one occasion, stop the winning coach to congratulate and encourage him—even after a most terrible first round loss to Lehigh in his own backyard.
His postgame interview was even more indicative of his sportsmanship. The reporter asks, “Coach, is this one of the most crushing losses you’ve experienced?” With his head held high and voice cracking, Coach K says, “The game has been very good to me. It’s a beautiful game with high highs and very low lows. This is a low right now for us, but congratulations goes out to Lehigh—they had the best player on the floor tonight and should be commended.” When asked if he thought the outcome would have been different had Ryan Kelly not been hurt, Coach K responds, “That’s not an excuse–we had time to adjust and did not make it happen.”
Now I know why Coach Prosser always told us–”Don’t criticize success; just analyze it.” In other words, analyze how they win and, in today’s case, what they do when they don’t win.
Maybe we should stop criticizing the Duke’s in our life. Maybe we should be looking at what they do and go make our teams better.