Mike Krzyzewski proved again on Thursday that he knows what it takes to get the most out of his players.
Sometimes, Coach K gives individuals more latitude to make decisions. On other occasions, he is very deliberate in directing what they do.
Sometimes, he leaves players in the starting lineup or on the court to let them work through various issues. On other occasions, he sits players down or holds them out of the starting lineup to "get their attention."
Last night, Austin Rivers and Ryan Kelly, two players who are usually in the starting five, began the game with a seat next to college basketball's all-time winning-est coach.
Both Rivers and Kelly "got the message" that Krzyzewski was sending: "Before everything else, it's about the team."
Both players addressed the media concerning what they hope to be a one-game change.
ESPN.com reports that "Rivers said he didn't start because he wasn't playing as hard as he should have been and Krzyzewski called him on it, with the freshman guard adding that he 'realized that I need to mature in ways, and I didn't—I need to keep doing that moving forward.' Rivers said he apologized to the team Wednesday and promised it wouldn't happen again."
Kelly said, "When you get pulled out of the starting lineup, it's kind of hard on you, no matter what, and you've got to show you're willing to do whatever it takes for the team. I think I did that."
How did things turn out on the court for the team?
Duke won easily against Wake Forest, 91-73, with Andre Dawkins leading all scorers with 21 points.
And what about these two players? Did they pout or let Coach K's decision negatively effect their performance?
No. Just the opposite.
Rivers scored 20 points (on 6-of-11 shooting; 3-for-4 from beyond the arc) for the first time in 2012.
Kelly also put up 20 points (on 8-of-11 shooting) as well as grabbing 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
In spite of the positive team and individual results with this configuration, it is unlikely that Krzyzewski will keep Rivers and Kelly out of the starting line-up beyond last night.
If these two outstanding players will move forward with a heightened focus and improved attitudes, the team will be better served by giving them the most minutes possible.
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