There are those who say Mike Krzyzewski should retire, that he should step down at Duke and never coach another Olympic team again.
All because he lost to Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
And because he flamed out in the first round against Lehigh in 2012.
These losses, the critics say, are proof that the game has “passed him by.”
Pete Gillen says hogwash.
“First of all, Coach K is one of the greatest coaches ever, so he should set the timeline for when he wants to retire,” the CBS Sports Network analyst said on Ferrall on the Bench. “The game has not passed him by. There’s such balance in college basketball today that you could take the jerseys off each team and switch (them) and you don’t know who’s Duke and who’s Mercer and who’s some of these other teams. There’s a lot of parity.”
Not only that, but Mercer started five seniors – the only team in the country to do so. Yes, Jabari Parker is a future top-five pick, but five guys who play well and play together will almost always beat a singular talent.
“It’s tough for younger guys – no matter how good they are – to beat the veteran teams,” Gillen said.
Also, let’s not forget that Krzyzewski won a national championship in 2010. Remember Gordon Hayward’s near-miss from half-court? Yeah, that wasn’t that long ago.
“Coach K should be able to coach the national team again as long as he wants,” Gillen said. “He’s won two Olympics and one world championship. If he wants to do it again, God bless him. The person who said (he should retire) was foolish.”
Of course, Gillen, who is four months younger than Krzyzewski, is happy to have left the sidelines. Gillen coached for 20 years at Xavier, Providence and Virginia before retiring in 2005.
“I miss coaching, but it’s for younger guys,” he said. “I couldn’t do it physically again, but it’s fun being in the media. At least I can go to practices and games and I can still keep my toes in the water (and be) involved with college basketball.”
Looking at this week’s games, Gillen likes No. 11 Dayton to get by No. 10 Stanford in a very close game.
“They’re like a bunch of junkyard dogs,” Gillen said of the Flyers. “They got them out of tattoo parlors and funeral homes and under rocks. At shoot-arounds, they catch javelins and do pushups on picket fences. They’re tough kids.”
Gillen also likes No. 6 Baylor to beat No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 1 Florida to beat No. 4 UCLA and, in an upset, No. 4 San Diego State to beat No. 1 Arizona.
On Friday, Gillen likes No. 11 Tennessee to beat No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Louisville to beat No. 8 Kentucky, No. 3 Iowa State to beat No. 7 Connecticut and No. 4 Michigan State to beat No. 1 Virginia.
Gillen also commented on the Northwestern football program, which this week was granted permission to unionize.
“I disagree with that,” he said. “They’re not employees; they’re student-athletes. They’re getting a scholarship and they get some money for financial aid where it’s deemed necessary. You’re getting a great opportunity. They’re improving their brand, so to speak, on national television. So I disagree with that vehemently.
“I could see down the road maybe getting a stipend if families (need it), but I don’t think they should be unionized and they’re certainly, in my opinion, not employees. They’re students, they’re athletes and they’re getting a lot.”