Duke beat Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 83-82, on Wednesday, capping an unusual three weeks for the Blue Devils.
Duke went three weeks between games, the longest midseason break in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career, due to COVID testing and tracing related cancellations on opposing teams. When they finally returned to the floor, they were without Coach K, who was exposed to a family member who tested positive and had to serve a quarantine.
For the tenth time since Krzyzewski missed most of the 1994-95 season following back surgery, Duke played without its head coach. And for the seventh time, the Blue Devils won in that situation.
This was the first time, however, that the interim coach filling in for Krzyzewski was Jon Scheyer.
“It’s not how I dreamed about coaching my first game,” Scheyer said. “Bizarre circumstances. All of us - Nate [James], Chris [Carrawell], Nolan [Smith] and I - you want to get that win for Coach. It’s just natural to feel that way. There’s pressure you put on yourself ... we all felt that way. We really stuck together as a staff with decision making and subs, with Matt (Hurt)’s four fouls and trying to find the right lineup defensively but also offensively. I’m very thankful to have Nate, Chris and Nolan these last couple days of preparation. Coach also has been there every step of the way. In the locker room, he did a Zoom with the team before the game. We’ve had almost more prep as a staff with him being gone than with him here. We’ve been on the same page talking about Boston College. None of it really worked for us in the first half and we had to find a way. I’m happy we won. I wish we had a camera on Coach at the end there to see what he was doing.”
While Duke players and coaches generally preach “team first,” Scheyer did take personal satisfaction in getting the win in Krzyzewski’s absence.
“I’d be lying if I said this did not mean a lot to me. Naturally, you want to step up and have Coach’s back as a staff. I’ve always wanted to win. You’re going into this game and you get one chance so you want to do the best job you can preparing. It wasn’t pretty all the time. I’m proud of the preparation we had as a staff. I’m proud of the decisions in game, although there’s always things you could do better or differently. To start off this way and get a win ... It’s easier to call Coach after the game. I may not sleep tonight now. But just to move on and go from here. It meant a lot and I’m very proud.”