Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history, is still chugging along in now his 46th year as a head coach. But, at 73-years old, his long, successful career could be coming to a close any year now.
Krzyzewski sat down with ESPN’s Rece Davis to discuss his college basketball future amid a rocky 2020-21 campaign for his Duke Blue Devils. The interview aired on Saturday morning’s College GameDay.
“It’s frustrating that you can’t do all the things you normally do and you don’t achieve that success,” Krzyzewski said. “Well, in about a week, I’ll be 74 years old. You know, whether it’s the light at the end of the tunnel or the end of the cave or whatever the hell it is, it’s there.
“Whenever it happens, it’s going to happen. I can’t be focused on that. I’m focused on this team.”
"In my 46 years, there's never been a time like this."
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) February 6, 2021
In now his 41st year at Duke, Coach K hasn’t seen his team struggle like this since his debut seasons in the early 80s. Of course, every team in the NCAA is dealing with the added pressures of COVID-19 — but the updated virus schedule seems to be affecting the Blue Devils more than most.
At 7-6, Coach K and his squad certainly aren’t living up to their usually-elite standard.
“One, I’m happy that we’ve been able to have some semblance of a season and that there’s proof to be a good level of enjoyment,” Krzyzewski said. “Never, in the history of the game of college basketball, has the landscaped changed so much than this past year. It begs for great, great leadership and maybe some type of restructuring of that leadership where this sport does not have as many committees running different aspects of the game — that it could come under one umbrella with one commissioner or whatever you want to call it.
Tonight, Duke will take on North Carolina in the greatest rivalry in sports. This time though, the buzz surrounding the game isn’t quite living up to the hype.
For the first time since 1960, a Duke-Carolina rivalry matchup will feature two unranked teams.
“In my 46 years, there’s never been a time like this,” Krzyzewski. “It’s a great game, so we’ll be able to figure it out. We might have to figure it out a little bit differently.
“This is an unusual year. These two programs are not going to go away. We’re in a tough year, but our program is going to be good, you know? And it is good. We’re not doing it at the level of being ranked. You know, we don’t deserve to be ranked right now.”
The first leg of the historic matchup will take place in an empty Cameron Indoor Stadium. While often considered one of the most raucous environments in college basketball, the arena will stand empty on Saturday night amid COVID-19 regulations.
“I’m going to miss it,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m towards the end of my career. I think being in Cameron for those big games — how lucky can you be? And here, you’re going to do this in an empty gym. You know, that’s — obviously, one of the sad things about college basketball this year.”
Empty stands, unranked opponents and poor records aside — you can always count on Duke-UNC to provide a memorable matchup.
The game will tipoff at 6:00 p.m. E.T. on ESPN.