DURHAM, N.C. — Mike Krzyzewski was answering questions on Tuesday about the allegation that Corey Maggette, the former Duke basketball star, raped a female Duke student in 1999.
On Wednesday and Thursday, one of his freshman phenoms, R.J. Barrett, was sick and throwing up. Yet by Saturday night, Krzyzewski looked loose enough to be on the lido deck of a Carnival Cruise ship.
And so the college basketball world outside the confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium should be very worried.
Despite recent distractions, Coach K is Coach A-OK because his second-ranked Blue Devils look good to carry him to a sixth national championship.
After Duke beat N.C. State 94-78 Saturday night, a reporter noted that Floyd Mayweather had been in attendance and wondered if Krzyzewski watches boxing. During the game, Mayweather was sitting a row behind Duke’s bench and about four seats to the right of Krzyzewski.
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“Yeah, I do know who he is,” Coach K deadpanned, drawing laughter. “He’s actually pretty good. He used to knock people out, that’s what I told him. I said now you out point them, you outsmart them. Yeah, obviously I know who he is.”
With Mayweather watching, Duke freshman phenoms R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson were in sync, Barrett lofting passes over the top of N.C. State players to the 6-foot-7 Williamson, who easily converted several layups. Almost like a quarterback lofting passes to a receiver too tall to defend, Krzyzewski suggested.
“It’s like Oakland Raiders should do this,” Krzyzewski said. “Tell (Raiders coach Jon) Gruden. Take a 6-3 tight end, go into the corner of the end zone and take a 5-9 cornerback.”
Krzyzewski also found a way to subtly object to the officials when asked about Williamson having been in foul trouble. He picked up his fourth with 12:37 left in the second half, forcing him to the bench for next 6:17.
“With all the contact and everything, he had one (foul) where he just, well, he didn’t over a guy’s back, he actually was taller and got the rebound,” Krzyzewski said. “…I would say that I would teach him to do that, so that he would not foul. But he was called for a foul.”
Yet Coach A-OK still looked loose.