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Shut It Down? Coach K Thinks It's Time to "Reassess" Playing During Pandemic

Coach calls for sport's leadership to take a look at safety of players and staff

Three of the 14 games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge have been postponed due to COVID-19 issues. NC State-Michigan, Louisville-Wisconsin and Virginia-Michigan State have all been scratched in the last two days.

Pitt coach Jeff Capel spoke out about playing as cases continue to climb around the nation and throughout college basketball, saying, “Something just doesn’t feel right about it.”

After Duke lost to Illinois, 83-68 in a Challenge game, coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked about the situation.

“I don’t think it feels right to anybody,” he said. “I mean everyone is concerned.”

Krzyzewski was critical of the lack of leadership in college basketball.

“We made an assessment,” he said. “I’m not sure who leads college basketball. It’s done by committee. Anything that’s led by committee is not agile in handling a situation. There was a consensus. It wasn’t like well-planned. Just that we were going to start Nov. 25. That was made without knowing where the vaccine was, how many cases. Basically, it was more a mentality of get as many games in as possible. I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we’re at.”

Krzyzewski didn’t call for the basketball to be shut down temporarily, but it was clear that he thought that would be the result of the assessment.

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“You have 2,000 deaths a day,” he said. “You have 200,000 cases. People are saying the next six weeks are going be the worst. To me, it’s already pretty bad. On the other side of it, there are these vaccines that are coming out. By the end of the month 20 million vaccine shots will be given. By the end of January or in February, another 100 million. Should we not reassess that? See just what would be best?”

Krzyzewski was asked about the topic, but he was concerned that his answer would be interpreted as him making excuses after a loss.

“Look, I just got my butt beat by a lot,” he said. “Anything I say, someone can say, ‘He’s saying that because he got his butt beat.’ Do I think things should be done a little bit different? I mean, yeah. A lot of kids aren’t going to be able to go home for Christmas. It’s probably a time when they should, for mental health. But we’re just plowing through this.”

“I was texting with (Wake Forest coach) Steve Forbes last night,” he said. “His own son’s got it. Five of his players got it. We should get updates as to how many programs are on pause in a week, and how many cases there were. What’s going on, instead of just plowing through.”

“Somebody will take what I’m saying tonight and make like I’m making excuses,” he added. “I don’t make excuses. We got our butts beat. For the good of the game and the mental and physical health of players and staff, we need to constantly look at this thing. I think that’s a smart thing to do. Whatever happens as a result of looking at it, understand there are vaccines coming.”

Krzyzewski again took aim at the lack of leadership in the sport, implying that the NCAA is pushing to get the revenue from March Madness.

“I know the NCAA is worried about the end game. They’re not as worried about the game we’re playing right now. Who is it that you talk to? You’re asking me but shouldn’t … do you know who to call to ask about that? We’re smiling and laughing, but that’s sad, right? I think that’s sad.”

“Again, Illinois killed up,” Krzyzewski concluded. “We’re not that good. God bless everyone.”