Coach Okay questions the continuation of the pandemic sport


Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Tuesday urged college basketball to consider whether it is best to keep playing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I just want the safety, mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we are," said Krzyzewski.

Krzyzewski's comments came after an 83-68 loss to Illinois.

The five-time coach who won the championship said the idea that everyone should start on November 25th wasn't well planned. According to Krzyzewski, the goal was to play as many games as possible.

Many players won't be able to go home and visit family on vacation, Krzyzewski said, arguing that this is a time they should be doing it for their sanity.

"We're just plowing through," he said.

The sport is largely run by a supervisory committee. "Anything run by the committee is not agile," said Krzyzewski, adding that he "isn't sure who runs college basketball".

An NCAA official said the organization had no response to Krzyzewski's view on the current state of college basketball in the pandemic. "We have no comment," said David Worlock, spokesman for the NCAA tournament.

Krzyzewski cited the rise in COVID-19 cases as the basis of his argument. On Tuesday, 220,225 new coronavirus cases and 2,597 deaths were reported in the United States, according to the New York Times.

"People say the next six weeks will be the worst," said Krzyzewski. "It's pretty bad for me. On the flip side, these vaccines are coming out. There will be 20 million shots given by the end of the month. Another 100 million by the end of January or February. Shouldn't we re-evaluate that? See what would be best? "

Krzyzewski realized that his comments could be misunderstood as they came shortly after a 15-point loss to Illinois that saw Duke # 10 drop to 2-2 that season.

"We hit our butts," he said. "For the good of the game and the mental and physical health of the players and staff, we have to deal with this all the time. I think it's a smart thing to do."

Duke has postponed two games so far this season, but as Krzyzewski has admitted, what happens in December isn't as important to some as putting up a tournament in March.

"I know the NCAA are concerned about the final," he said. "You're not that concerned about the game we're playing right now."