Jayson Tatum's ties to Duke remain strong
As a perk to its customers, SiriusXM set up a town hall meeting with Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
A group of 40 subscribers, all from within 50 miles or so from the Triangle, were allowed to take part in the taping of a one-hour special edition of Krzyzewski’s “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.”
Krzyzewski and Chris Spatola, a SiriusXM announcer who is also Coach K’s son-in-law, interviewed former Duke players Jayson Tatum, Luol Deng and Mason Plumlee during the show. It wrapped up with a few audience members asking Krzyzewski questions.
The show can be heard on the SiriusXM satellite radio service Thursday night at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on ESPNU Radio (84) and Friday at 6 a.m. on ESPNU Radio (84) and at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the SiriusXM ACC Radio channel (371).
Here are three highlights from the event:
Tatum’s ties to Duke remain strong
Though he only played one season with the Blue Devils, Tatum flew back to Durham on Thursday morning to take part the K Academy fantasy basketball camp.
The Boston Celtics rookie did so just five days after he scored 24 points in an 87-79 loss to Cleveland in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“K Academy is a great opportunity to come back and see Coach and the entire staff and all the guys that came back that used to play and the incoming freshmen,” Tatum said. “I joke with Coach all the time that I wish I could have come back for my second year. I had so much fun.”
Krzyzewski quickly interjected, “Not as much as I wish you could have. It’s nice to know we wish the same thing.”
In his one season with the Blue Devils, Tatum averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds. He missed the first five weeks of his freshman season with a broken foot but recovered to help lead Duke to the ACC tournament championship in March 2017.
The Celtics made him the No. 3 overall pick in last June’s NBA draft. The 6-8 Tatum averaged 13.9 points in the regular season, starting all 80 games. He was even better in the playoffs, averaging 18.5 points.
Krzyzewski admitted that, while he thought Tatum was a great talent, he didn’t see him having this much success this quickly in the NBA.
“He didn’t even know it,” Krzyzewski said. “But because he’s so disciplined and poised and even-keeled ... I told the Celtics when they were trying to decide what they were going to do, I said I think Jayson is the best player and he’s definitely the best offensive player in the draft. You can coach him hard.”
Coach K’s regrets? Not many. But 1986 comes to mind.
Division I college basketball’s all-time leader in coaching wins with 1,100, Krzyzewski says he does his best to not look back at wins and championships that got away.
“If you have a rear-view mirror you beat yourself up on what could have happened but you also can get intoxicated by the success that you’ve had,” Krzyzewski said.
But, when asked by a town hall participant about a game or team he’d like to go back and coach again, Krzyzewski came up with one team -- his first Final Four team in 1986.
Krzyzewski said he was a good coach that season, but that team “deserved an older better coach.”
That Duke team was led by seniors Johnny Dawkins, David Henderson, Mark Alarie and Jay Bilas. Tommy Amaker was a junior. Danny Ferry was a freshman. The Blue Devils went 37-3, losing to Louisville 72-69 in the NCAA tournament final.
“They were as good a team as I have coached,” Krzyzewski said. “We lost in a very difficult national championship game against Louisville. I’ve loved winning the five national championships with the teams I’ve coached. I would have loved to have done that with that team. They were really the blueprint of how we developed our program.”
Coaching in the one-and-done era
Krzyzewski’s first two guests on Thursday were one-and-done players: Tatum and Deng. His third guest, Plumlee, played four seasons at Duke.
After helping Duke to the 2010 NCAA title as a freshman, Plumlee admitted having serious thoughts about turning pro following his sophomore season in 2011. Instead he stayed through 2013, helping Duke to a 30-6 record as a senior when the Blue Devils made the NCAA tournament elite eight.
During a commercial break in the show, Krzyzewski told the audience how much he treasures his relationships with his multi-year players.
“We do a good job developing our guys and they are able to go pro,” Krzyzewski said. “But you miss out on development. That’s why the K Academy helps bring Jayson back. You keep that relationship going. Kyrie (Irving), he played on two of our U.S. teams. You keep that going. But it’s different. It’s different now. You kind of miss some of that relationship growing.”