DeCock: Coach K offers rare peek of Duke practice

Aug 11 2011 - 7:19pm

DURHAM, N.C. -- It took only a few iterations of Duke's first drill for Mike Krzyzewski to interrupt practice and offer a correction.

"Meet the pass," the Blue Devils coach interjected. "In all the stuff we're doing today, don't screen and do this."

Krzyzewski leaned back on his heels and extended his hands, passively.

"Come and meet the pass," he continued.

Basic stuff, as Duke worked on inbounds plays in advance of its two-week trip to China and Dubai. Nevertheless, it was a rare chance to see one of basketball's best coaches at work as Duke opened the first 30 minutes of Tuesday's practice to the media, an increasingly unusual event these days in the upper echelons of college sports.

This has been the week to do it. N.C. State's entire first football practice was open to the media Aug. 2, while North Carolina and Duke both opened the beginning of their first practices Friday and Monday.

Typically, there are a handful of opportunities to observe during football training camp, but almost everything significant -- such as Monday night's N.C. State scrimmage -- happens behind closed doors.

As for basketball, the chances to see a team practice are few and far between for the media, and rarer still for the public. About the only chance fans get are the open practices before the ACC tournament, which are barely practices at all. Teams typically work out privately before leaving home or at a local high school gym, then put on a dunk exhibition in front of the crowd.

That made Tuesday a particularly valuable opportunity. Of course, there were no secrets given away; the open portion of practice -- here or anywhere -- is typically the rote, sanitized portion that goes on regardless of opponent, situation or time of year.

Still, it's a window into Duke's program -- into any ACC program -- that's rarely open, even for a moment. And even such limited access can yield insights that can't otherwise be gained.

Before practice, Krzyzewski spoke at length about Seth Curry's development as a player and leader, declaring "Curry has really taken a step up" and saying he would be Duke's point guard if the season started today.

"Seth believes he's good. He is good, but he really believes he's good," Krzyzewski said. "If you're going to be an outstanding player, you have to have that. He's scoring in different ways. But his quickness with the ball has really gone to a much higher level. I'm very, very pleased with what he's done."

That's standard offseason rhetoric from a coach, provoking the usual reading of tea leaves and parsing from the press pack, listening for whose name is mentioned -- and whose isn't. Tuesday, though, the open practice offered a chance to see Krzyzewski's words backed up by example.

Before one drill, Curry accidentally spoke over the conclusion of Krzyzewski's instructions as he attempted to direct his teammates.

"What did you say, Seth?" Krzyzewski turned and asked.

"Go to the line you passed to," Curry said.

"Do exactly what he says," Krzyzewski said, then walked off the court to let the players go to work.

Hearing the coach say it is one thing. Seeing what he means is something else entirely.

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