Is Coach K Making The Right Call By Banning His Players From Wearing Duke Gear?
The Duke Blue Devils are 15-5 on the season and ranked in the top 20 in the AP Top 25 poll. And for most college basketball programs, that would be a huge accomplishment, especially when you consider that three of Duke’s best players, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Marques Bolden, are all freshmen and that head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been out for a portion of the season after undergoing back surgery.
But this isn’t some no name school that we’re talking about here. This is Duke. So 15-5 through the first 20 games and a ranking outside of the top 5 is simply unacceptable. And according to ESPN, Coach K is fed up with his team right now. So after his team suffered a stunning 84-82 loss to North Carolina State at home on Monday night, he decided to take a bold stand. He reportedly held a meeting with his Blue Devils team and told them that they would be banned from the Duke locker room and banned from wearing Duke gear until they got their act together.
“He wasn’t happy,” a source told ESPN. “Especially after the loss to NC State.”
This is apparently not the first time Coach K has used this tactic. According to another source who spoke with ESPN, the legendary head coach has employed similar strategies in the past. It seems he holds the Duke logo in high regard and doesn’t want to allow just anyone to wear it. But will banning his players from wearing their Duke gear alleviate all of his team’s problems?
Jeff Capel, who is filling in for Coach K right now as he continues to recover from back surgery, wouldn’t confirm or deny ESPN’s report. But one source close to the program told ESPN that taking away his players’ right to wear Duke gear might not do the trick this time around.
“He needs to do more than just take away their jerseys,” the source said. “There are bigger issues that need to be addressed.”
Some of those issues will likely be solved over time. All three of the freshmen listed above missed games due to injury at the start of the season and are still trying to find their roles. Veteran player Amile Jefferson also missed time for the team. And Grayson Allen has stirred up so much controversy by tripping players during games this season that it’s been hard for Duke to really forge a true identity.
Maybe taking away the players’ Duke gear will work. Maybe it won’t. But either way, this season is not going the way many Duke fans expected it to. And Coach K seems like he’s willing to try just about anything right now to turn things around.