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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to undergo back surgery, take leave of absence

Coach K will have lower back surgery and Jeff Capel will coach the Blue Devils in his absence.
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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will undergo lower back surgery on Friday to remove a fragment of a herniated disk and will take a leave of absence as he recovers, the university announced.

The anticipated recovery time from the surgery is expected to take at least four weeks.

Associate head coach Jeff Capel will coach the team in his absence. The Blue Devils will take on Boston College on January 7 at home.

“Dr. William Richardson, Dr. Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Together, we have determined that surgery is the best course of action at this time. During my recovery process, the team will be in the capable hands of Coach Capel, Coach James and Coach Scheyer. As soon as the doctors clear me to do so, I look forward to returning and giving our team 100% of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve.” 

Krzyzewski has been bothered by his back for a while and the pain has been “much worse than he's let on," ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports.

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In 1994, Krzyzewski  underwent back surgery in October and took a leave of absence for the remainder of the season after January 1995. Duke was 9–3 at the time and finished the remaining games 4–15. Krzyzewski underwent knee surgery in April 2016.

Krzyzewski holds the Division I wins record with 1,055 victories in his 41 seasons as a head coach. He has led Duke to five NCAA championships.

Krzyzewski is coming off a summer in which he coached his final Olympics for Team USA as he compiled an 88–1 record as head coach from 2005 to 2016.

Duke is 12–2 on the season and sits atop the ACC. The Blue Devils are coming off a 89–75 loss to Virginia Tech as Grayson Allen serves a suspension for tripping an Elon player on Dec. 21.