On Sunday, when Duke University men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski hopes to be playing a second-round NCAA Tournament game in the Midwest bracket, his niece Lynette Krzyzewski Kentgen will be inducted into the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in Illinois.
The former River Grove (Ill.) Guerin College Prep star is the daughter of Bill Krzyzewski, Coach K's brother who died this past December. After a rough start to the Duke season, Mike Krzyzewski admitted in January, "I haven't been myself since Christmas." The Blue Devils earned a No. 3 seed in the tournament.
While Kentgen's basketball days are over -- other than a backyard game against her two sons every now and then -- she will be honored for her basketball prowess this weekend, too. According to a Chicago Sun-Times announcement of her scheduled Hall of Fame induction, she averaged 22 points as a Guerin senior and finished her high school career with 1,900 points before graduating in 1989 -- the same year Coach K earned the first of his three Naismith College Coach of the Year honors.
“I had a Duke shirt and people would ask why you’re a fan of Duke and I’d say ‘My uncle is Coach K,’ and they’d say ‘No he’s not,’ ” Kentgen told the Sun-Times. “He’s well known for his successes, but for me, he’s my uncle and my support. He’s just Uncle Mike.”
Of course, her family connections didn't hurt. Uncle Mike offered plenty of pointers along the way. As he joked to the Chicago Tribune back in 1988, "She`s not a great athlete, but she has a good head for the game. She must have gotten that from her uncle."
Kentgen ultimately landed a scholarship to St. Louis University, where she served as team captain in her final two seasons before an ACL tear cut her senior season short.
“When I began getting recruited for college he was a good resource for me and my parents,” she told the Sun-Times. “I would go to his summer camp at Duke every year and he wasn’t fearful of telling me what I still needed to work on. Here you are thinking you’re a good player and your uncle is telling you why you need to work on this and that. I appreciated it though.”
On Sunday, she'll be the recipient of the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference's appreciation. Hopefully she can sneak her speech in before tipoff should Duke avoid the upset against Mercer on Friday.