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July 04, 2004

Coach K To La-La Land? Our Guess Is Yes

FROM LA-LA LAND, FROM DURHAM, FROM INDIANAPOLIS, FROM NY, FROM ALL POINTS ON ROUNDBALL’S RADAR, comes news of an offer to Duke’s Coach K that, alternately, has some worried, some overjoyed, some fretful, some scornful, some cynical and some just outright befuddled.

With an epochal changing of the guard upon them, Lakers’ management has wisely concentrated on filling (not replacing thank you) the head coaching position before all other slots are correspondingly filled.

For Coach K to have refrained from issuing a flat no to the Lakers when approached last week speaks volumes of the depths to which college basketball has been lowered.

Until recently the mighty, lofty Duke had been spared the premature departures by its star players. However, starting five years ago the Blue Devils have been buffeted by the leaving of eight players before their time shoulda been up.

Most recently, Coach K was stung by the abdication of freshman Luol Deng and high schooler Shaun Livingston (Duke’s first-ever player to commit but never even set foot on campus as a student).

Why bother? . . . a coach might say. To get one (or none) years out of a player?

Coach Larry Brown’s college-pro success has been a noteworthy aberration. More typically, the coaching annals are littered with the names of many coaches who have fared poorly in the jump from college to NBA: Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian, John Calipari, Leonard Hamilton, PJ Carlisimo. Lon Kruger, etc.

A dilemma this is for Coach K. If he’s not yet done with the game of basketball, if the college game has lost its luster to him, if he considers the NBA a challenge, and if he and his wife are attracted by a southern California lifestyle, then the decision has already been made.

(this 295 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—has been distilled from articles in the North Carolina Citizen-Times, the Durham Herald-Sun, the Los Angeles Daily News and ESPN.com)