Duke Struggling Without Coach K

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Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

Duke University’s men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski will sit out a few games this season due to a back injury. The Hall of Fame coach recently underwent back surgery Friday.

According to the Duke Men’s Basketball official website, Kevin White, Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics, released a statement regarding the head coach’s health.

“To be sure, the entire Duke community is supportive and eager to get Mike back as soon as possible,” White said. “His health is paramount, and he will get the best possible care in the world by the Duke medical team. With the proper recovery time, we look forward to Mike doing what he does best – leading and teaching – very soon.”

How soon? Early February is the scheduled date, which is just in time for part one of college basketball’s most historic rivalry game: Duke versus North Carolina.

Despite the head coach only missing a few weeks of the regular season, the preseason No. 1 ranked Blue Devils cannot afford yet another setback this season. After losing players early on to injuries, dropping four games on the year, and now dealing with junior guard Grayson Allen’s recent suspension, the nationally ranked Blue Devils will be without their leader. Just how big of an impact will the coach’s absence make? If you are unfamiliar with Krzyzewski’s coaching career, here are a few accolades to note:

42 years of head coaching experience
5 National Championships
12 Final Four appearances
13 ACC Championships
11 Olympic gold medals

The last time Krzyzewski had back surgery during a regular season, he missed the last 19 games of the 1994-1995 season. Duke fanatics remember that season well because it was the last time the Blue Devils did not make the NCAA Tournament.

After overcoming several other injuries, this surgery was nothing new to the head coach, but the outcome was different. According to USA Today, Coach K’s doctor, Dr. Allan Friedman, said that everything turned out well for the almost 70-year-old coach, despite his surgery being on an unlucky Friday the 13th.

“Surgery went exactly as planned,” Dr. Allen said. “Coach is in terrific physical shape and we expect a full recovery.”

Associate head coach Jeff Capel has taken over as commander-in-chief for the former USA men’s basketball head coach. In his first game as interim coach, Capek left a seat open on the bench in honor of Coach K. The Blue Devils defeated Boston College 93-82 in their first game without their head coach.

The Blue Devils are scheduled to play eight games without Krzyzewski. They are currently ranked in the top 25 and have an overall record of 14-4. Coach K is scheduled to return by Feb. 9 to coach his team at home against the North Carolina Tar Heels. According to ESPN, Krzyzewski said that when he is cleared to coach, he would give it his all.

“I look forward to returning and giving our team 100% of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve,” Krzyzewski said.

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