CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils looks over at a referee in the first half while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Fresh off the heels of a sneaky home loss to Miami, Coach K is doing an excellent job preparing for Wednesday's showdown with North Carolina.
"I think [North Carolina is] by far the most talented team in the country," Krzyzewski told Bruce Pearl and Jeff Goodman today on SiriusXM's "Inside College Basketball". "Maybe not by far, but they are the most talented team -- especially offensively. And they've been playing together for two years. We'll have a tough game against them. Hopefully we'll play well, learn and have a chance to beat them at the end."
Now, hold on a tick. The Heels, although a very good team, seem to have slipped off the ledge of elite teams in the past few weeks. Many would agree that they've been slacking as of late, and also are down an important piece with Dexter Strickland sidelined for the rest of the season.
At this moment, you'd have a hard time convincing pundits that Roy Williams' team is the first, second, maybe third, possibly even fourth most talented team in college basketball. They just aren't scaring people right now like they did in 2005 and 2009.
Duke certainly hasn't been playing their best lately either, but this reeks of a classic Coach K ploy. To me, Coach K heralding the Heels as "the most talented team" was done to deflect any pressure from his own team, eliminate the opportunity for bulletin board material and, most importantly, undersell his own squad so that if Duke does come up short, he can sit at that post-game press-conference, grin, and say "I told you so."
While I doubt this is not the type of message Krzyzewski and his coaching staff are beating into the heads of players behind closed doors, it at least portrays the arguably less talented Blue Devils, playing on the road no less, as the underdog leading up to their biggest regular season game of the year.
Once again, the all-time winningest coach's gamesmanship supersedes his coaching acumen.