March 25, 2011
Before halftime, Mike Krzyzewski did something he almost never does: He stopped for a television interview. After halftime, his Duke team did something it almost never does: They got run out of the gym.
The top-seeded Blue Devils held a six-point, 44-38, halftime lead over Arizona in their West Regional semifinal in Anaheim. When the teams came out of the locker room, the Wildcats put on a clinic, using a 19-2 run to burst past Coach K's team en route to a 93-77 victory. Arizona outscored Duke 55-33 in the second half.
Did it all start with Coach K's halftime chat?
Sounds like he had Arizona's Derrick Williams on his mind.
Krzyzewski almost never stops to talk to sideline reporters on his way to the locker room. Oftentimes, he'll send assistants like Johnny Dawkins or Chris Collins to perform the perfunctory interviews. Earlier this year, Coach K talked about why he shuns the television commitment:
"A coach's responsibility, from the time we talk to our players in the locker room before the game, until we talk to them in the locker room after the game, is sacred for us and our team. My responsibility is to my kids, to my team. You shouldn't be distracted. You don't owe anything to anyone else. That's why I never do halftime interviews."
He should have heeded his own warning. So far, there's no indication as to why Krzyzewski decided to grant Lesley Visser the interview, but I'd wager that it's the last one he'll be doing for a while. It may not have had any affect on his team's preparation, but it's certainly a coincidence he won't want to test out again.
The thing is, even if Coach K had blown past the interviewer, even if Duke hadn't collapsed, even if Nolan Smith hadn't disappeared and even if the Blue Devils didn't essentially give up once they got down, the result would have been the same. Arizona was as close to perfect in the second half as a team can get. Not even a halftime-interview jinx could change that.
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