HB2 bedevils Duke by forcing NCAA site change

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski knows how to beat a zone or a press or whatever an opponent tries, but this year Duke’s championships hopes may have been cut short by a tactic no coach can get past – the HB2 defense.

North Carolina’s conservative lawmakers have stood firm in defense of the law no matter how many people complain or launch boycotts, including the NCAA’s decision to withdraw its championship games and tournaments from North Carolina. This year, that meant that Duke and the University of North Carolina played their first rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Greenville in the enlightened and progressive state of South Carolina rather than in Greensboro, in the state that has made discrimination against transgender people into a law known as House Bill 2, or HB2.

As bad luck would have it, Duke then had to face the University of South Carolina in the second round on Sunday with the Gamecocks playing only 90 minutes from their campus in Columbia. Spurred by a roaring crowd of South Carolina fans, South Carolina scored an amazing 65 points in the second half to comeback and beat Duke 88-81. Would the result have been different in Greensboro, about an hour from Duke’s campus? Who knows, but the change in venue certainly didn’t help.

Long before the defeat in South Carolina, Krzyzewski had pronounced HB2 “a stupid thing.” After the loss, he might have referred to it in even more pointed terms.

Even if HB2 didn’t cost Duke a shot at the championship, it’s now likely to cost all North Carolina teams a home-state advantage. If the legislature does not repeal the law by the end of this month, NCAA president Mark Emmert says there may be no NCAA championships played in North Carolina through 2022.