Is it blasphemy to say something bad about Mike Krzyzewski?
Yeah, it usually is, but I've got something on my mind. Even the greatest coach of his generation, one who also wears the hats of respected family man, charity man, American Express pitch man and University front man, needs to be criticized on occasion.
Coach K, you need to be more confident in this year's team. You said this team is good enough to compete for a national championship, but this year's team is better than good enough to compete. That was last year's team that was merely contending, simply hoping.
Please listen, Coach K, to what you said after the final exhibition game Nov. 10.:
"We are not a great basketball team. We are a good basketball team that needs to develop."
You think this team is not great? How about Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill, were they just decent, kind of talented players?
This year's team should have the expectation of winning a national championship. You need to instill this expectation into your team because those that win championships have a swagger to complement their skills.
Remember what Sean May, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and company did last year at that lower-tiered academic institution a few miles away? They won because they oozed confidence, and you can bet the arrogance head coach Roy Williams wears on his baby-blue sleeve had something to do with it. No one wants our players to strut around like Terrell Owens post-touchdown, but this is the year for the Blue Devils to shoot, pass, rebound and dunk with the conviction that they are the best group of players in the country.
This team has it all. Guys to handle the ball? You have steady senior Sean Dockery and playmaking quarterback Greg Paulus, a pretty sweet combination. Someone to shoot the three? You have maybe the best to ever do it at the college level, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, senior J.J. Redick. A frontcourt with size, athleticism and skill? You have the returning National Defensive Player of the Year, senior Shelden Williams, a freakishly talented freshman in Josh McRoberts and the one that's waiting to explode, super-sophomore DeMarcus Nelson.
And what about that component, the thing that everyone and his mother talks about come March-senior leadership? Did I mention Williams, Redick and Dockery, and does anyone incorporate this into his game more than Lee Melchionni?
While you may not yet expect to win a fourth crown, Coach K, I can guarantee you that a large contingent of students expects to see that net draped loosely around your neck come tournament time.
"When your program is the face of college basketball, you deserve to expect the team to win a National Championship once every four or five years," Ike Mbanefo, a senior, said. "We have the caliber of players and the depth to do it this year, so I don't see why we should expect anything less."
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I asked about two dozen other students around campus this week, and almost all echoed Mbanefo's comments. In one way or another, they said we should expect a championship.
I realize it's not an easy thing for you to do, Coach K. We understand that part of your job is public relations and making bold declarations about student athletes is tough.
But for this team to reach its full potential, you need to boost its confidence a little.
I have one question left for you, Coach K.
Are you going to lead our team to that championship?
Well, one more.
Are you going to cancel classes the next day?