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Duke quitting non-conference schedule following Coach K's gripes

Jack Pilgrim12/10/20

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Article written by:On3 imageJack Pilgrim
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Just two days after Mike Krzyzewski said he “(doesn’t) think it feels right to anybody” that college basketball is being played right now, Duke has decided to end its non-conference schedule early.

According to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, Duke is not planning on finishing its non-conference schedule, at least for the time being.

“Duke is not planning on playing any more non-conference games,” Goodman reported. “Obviously, that could change down the road. … but that’s the plan for now with Coach K and the Blue Devils.”

The move comes following Duke’s 2-2 start to the season, with the most recent loss coming at home against Illinois by a final score of 83-68 on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it feels right to anybody,” Krzyzewski said following the loss, via the News and Observer. “I mean, everyone is concerned.”

“We made an assessment,” the Duke head coach continued. “I’m not sure who leads college basketball. It’s done by committee. Anything that’s led by committee is not agile in handling a situation. There was a consensus. It wasn’t, like, well-planned. Just that we were going to start Nov. 25. That was made without knowing where the vaccine was, how many cases. Basically, it was more a mentality of get as many games in as possible. I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we’re at.

“You have 2,000 deaths a day. You have 200,000 cases. People are saying the next six weeks are going be the worst. To me, it’s already pretty bad. On the other side of it, there are these vaccines that are coming out. By the end of the month 20 million vaccine shots will be given. By the end of January or in February, another 100 million. Should we not reassess that? See just what would be best?”

At the time, Coach K acknowledged that his comments would likely be met with criticism (they were) after wanting to call off the season while his team is struggling.

“Look, I just got my butt beat by a lot,” he said. “So, anything I say, someone can say, ‘He’s saying that because he got his butt beat.’ Do I think things should be done a little bit different? I mean, yeah. A lot of kids aren’t going to be able to go home for Christmas. It’s probably a time when they should, for mental health. But we’re just plowing through this.”

“Look, I know somebody will take what I’m saying tonight and make like I’m making excuses,” he continued. “I don’t make excuses. We got our butts beat. For the good of the game and the mental and physical health of players and staff, we need to constantly look at this thing. I think that’s a smart thing to do.”

Krzyzewski will now reportedly get his wish, as Duke is closing up shop for the remainder of non-conference play.

What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s not entirely clear. The Blue Devils are currently slated to take on Notre Dame, an ACC foe, next Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 9 p.m. ET. In fact, the only other non-conference game on the team’s schedule is against Gardner-Webb next Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. ET.

Are the Blue Devils just sitting out one game, leaving Gardner-Webb out to dry? Is the Notre Dame game also on hold? Is the program putting this news out simply to make a statement? Will this pause extend into conference play?

That all remains unclear.

———-UPDATE———-

Duke has announced that it will “forgo (its) remaining non-conference regular-season games for the 2020-21 season,” adding that the team’s next game will be against Notre Dame next Wednesday in South Bend.

“Just to make sure we’re doing the right thing for our players, just for safety, we’re not going to play any non-conference games,” Krzyzewski said in the video statement. “We’re not going to try and reschedule, we could reschedule, or try to reschedule three games, and we’re not going to do that. We’re going to play conference, and hopefully we get to play all of them.”

This mean’s the team’s three postponed games against Charleston Southern, Elon and Gardner-Webb have been called off.

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2023-01-30