Two Chess Masters: Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams At It Again

Mike KlineAnalyst IOctober 7, 2009

If recruiting is like chess, then Duke Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and UNC coach Roy Williams are the grandmasters.

Despite the countless battles the two bitter rivals have fought on the court, some of the most intense ones have come off of it in recruiting showdowns.

You name a top recruit that has gone to either Duke or North Carolina and you are likely to find that they were recruited by both schools.

From Brandon Wright to Grant Hill, the two rivals—despite their differences—usually have their eyes on the same talent.

Last year brought us the John Wall saga.

Wall flirted with both schools and his recruitment dominated The Triangle's attention before he decided to play for Kentucky. George Lucas is currently working on the film version.

This year, every fan from both schools is keeping a close eye on the recruitment of rising-star Harrison Barnes. This battle is shaping up to be another classic.

Like Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky, the two great chess masters, Krzyzewski and Williams are trying to visualize each other's next move.

Krzyzewski traveled to Ames, Iowa for an in-home visit with Barnes on Monday. Just hours after he left, Williams apparently skirted in for a brief visit of his own.

Surely a calculated move to try and play on the old "law of recency"—you remember or lean to that with which you saw last.

Nonetheless, it is a good move that shows why Williams has taken a slight edge over Krzyzewski in the recruiting arms race.

Duke fans are seemingly staking the future of the program on Barnes, while some with a decidedly more UNC perspective are just hoping to steal Barnes from Duke.

There may be a point to this as Carolina has had no problem securing top talent in the last decade, whereas Duke has.

Barnes would mean a lot more to Duke than Carolina.

For the Tar Heels, he represents another cog in the wheel. For the Blue Devils, he represents a potential return to elite status—a place Duke arguably hasn't been since 2004.

Barnes' mid-range game and athleticism is often compared to that of Grant Hill. Surely an enticement for all Duke fans.

Duke was thought to be in the lead prior to Barnes' attendance at the alumni game in Chapel Hill, where he was treated like the heroes the game was commemorating.

Barnes, after all, had shown up to the Duke-UNC game in Cameron last season wearing a Duke Shirt. That had Duke fans hopeful of their status in his recruitment.

However, Carolina's sudden surge in the recruitment of Barnes has Blue Devil fans and message boards in a state of panic. And Tar Heel fans are quite optimistic on their chances of landing a commitment from Barnes. 

So, like a great chess match, each move is being scrutinized by those fans and interpreted to mean one thing or the other.

The truth is no one knows who will win except for Barnes. Because in reality, unlike a chess piece, Barnes is controlling this game and he is the one that makes the final choice.

Time will tell who will ultimately win out in the battle for Barnes' services. The repercussions of his decision seem to concern Duke fans more, especially if he chooses to go to play in Chapel Hill.

However, one can never overlook a third player in the battle: John Calipari. After all, "Slick" John has seemingly gotten every top recruit in the last year. Why not Barnes, too?

But if he does narrow his sights between the two rivals, this match will be analyzed for weeks and months, as will the decision and its effect.

And only one master in the end will get to call "checkmate."

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