First, Harrison Barnes gave Austin Rivers advice. Kyrie Irving and Dexter Strickland are good friends. Now Roy Williams is paying respect to Mike Krzyzewski.
Has the world gone mad?
Duke and North Carolina are meant to be arch rivals.
ESPN's Dana O’Neil recently did a survey asking several coaches which of their peers they think is the smartest; this is what Roy Williams said:
“I think Mike Montgomery is pretty darned sharp and I have no problem saying that I think Mike Krzyzewski is, too.’’
Sounds like respect, and I guess they won’t be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon, but aren’t they meant to hate each other with a passion?
Same with Harrison Barnes and his heir apparent as the most hyped recruit in the ACC next season, Austin Rivers.
"We're definitely cool," Rivers said. "We were cool before and we got to know each other a little bit through this whole process, and I'd definitely say we're cool now.
"I know we're supposed to be rivals or whatever. But we don't really talk about that stuff."
It is very refreshing for Rivers to have this viewpoint about a North Carolina player, much less the rivalry itself. When he committed to Duke, he had a lot of backlash from spurned Tar Heel fans.
Barnes himself was on the receiving end of some Duke hate after he chose UNC over Duke, but he had some valuable advice for the rising freshman guard:
"The biggest thing is that it's a long season. You just have to keep your head down, stay in the gym, and keep working."
Barnes added, "You can't get too down on yourself. You can't worry about the outside stuff. All you can do is work on your game. If you're focused on that, the outside stuff sorts itself out."
Indeed, Barnes does not just talk a good game; he struggled the first few months at North Carolina and then shook it off to send the Tar Heels on a late-season charge, including a 14-1 run.
As for Irving and Strickland, they are former teammates. Both played at Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick.
That's a move Roy Williams was not too happy about.
“I’m really mad at Kyrie,” ZagsBlog reported Williams said last summer. “I don’t like Kyrie. I do laugh at that and say that with tongue in cheek.”
Now that’s more like it. There is an element of truth to every joke, but it was a joke nonetheless.
“Kevin Boyle was going to play Dexter at the point his senior year and Dexter’s never played the point and I thought that’s what he was going to be in college,” Williams continued.
“Kyrie goes in and so no longer is Dexter playing the point cause Kyrie’s so great,” Williams added. “I already told Kyrie, ‘You really made me mad. You played the point so Dexter didn’t get to do that and then you went to Duke too so you really made me mad.’”
Williams was kidding, or so he says, but it kind of makes sense that he would be mad.
Currently North Carolina does not have a traditional backup point guard for Kendall Marshall, and Dexter Strickland is the next best option. He's a speedy guard, but can he create plays for others?
We will see next season. As for the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, you can’t have two dominant forces in one house; even though the players appear friendly, that’s all it is. Let's just put it down to class.
I am sure Mike Krzyzewski has just as much respect for Roy Williams as does Williams for him, but they are both competitors. They want to beat each other.