Welcome to the South: Spell at your own risk

HOUSTON—The NCAA's South Regional is nothing more than a copy-editor's worst nightmare.

Friday's Sweet 16 matchup between Duke and Utah featured a matchup between two coaches with last names so difficult to spell they can only be referred to as "Coach K"—Mike Krzyzewski and Larry Krystkowiak. When asked about the relationship between two Polish-American coaches, Krzyzewski joked that he would "never diss another Polish-American."

"[I'd] probably give him our secret handshake," Krzyzewski said Thursday before his Blue Devils toppled Krystkowiak's Runnin' Utes 63-57. "I'm not going to tell you what it is."

After Krzyzewski proved he was the one true Coach K Friday, his Blue Devils looked ahead to a matchup with second-seeded Gonzaga and Polish center Przemek (pronounced SHEM-ick) Karnowski in the Elite Eight. Karnowski, whose full first name is Przemyslaw, bullied 11th-seeded UCLA in the Sweet 16, putting his 7-foot-1, 288-pound frame to work to the tune of 18 points and nine rebounds.

Putting the man behind one of the toughest names in college basketball to the test, a reporter challenged Krzyzewski to spell Karnowski's name. The Duke head coach did not even attempt, but asked the reporter—who used the popular Americanized pronunciation kar-NOW-ski—to ask the Gonzaga junior how he pronounces his name.

At the Bulldogs' press conference later that afternoon, Karnowski (pronounced kar-NOF-skee)—whose "w" takes a "f" sound like in Krzyzewski's name—tried his hand at spelling the Duke head coach's name. Thanks to his Polish-speaking background, he got closer than most.

"K-R-Z-Y-W-S-K-I," Karnowski attempted.

Krzyzewski must be a tough name to spell in any language. Last year, players across the ACC tried, and even Tyler Thornton—as a senior—couldn't spell his own coach's name.

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