Monday, March 19, 2012

Hat's Off to Coach K

Like a lot of folks across America, I've been watching the NCAA men's basketball tournament on television. They're have been some great games and several yawners.

An aspect of sports that I've always observed is how coaches, players and fans deal with defeat. Some people handle it with dignity; others are bad sports. We see it all all levels of athletics. Some of it gets really ugly.

In this year's first round, I was impressed with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski  after his second-seeded Blue Devils were upset by No. 15 Lehigh 75-70. There wasn't a blame game. He didn't make excuses. He gave credit to unheralded Lehigh for what they did on the court.

"I've been in it for 37 years and it takes you to incredible highs," the 65-year-old coach said. "And it also takes you to incredible lows....But it wasn't just our doing, they played well. They played that well. And again my hat's off to them."

Kryzewski, in his 32 seasons at Duke, has led the Blue Devils to four national championships, four runners-up and 11 trips to the Final Four. He's men's Division I college basketball's all-time winning coach with a 927-289 record. And he's in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

I first came into contact with Kryzewski when he was the coach at Army and I was a sportswriter at the Lexington Herald in the late 1970s. He called one evening to announce that he had signed a player (David Couch) from Kentucky. I found him to be very professional and polite (even when he patiently spelled his last name a couple times for me).

While there are few things as exhilarating as winning, Kryzewski shows that you can lose with class and dignity. 

Until the next time...

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