Mike Krzyzewski Injury: Duke Head Coach to Undergo Back Surgery

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts against the Florida Gators in the second half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will have back surgery Friday to remove a fragment of a herniated disc, according to GoDuke.com.

Krzyzewski is expected to be sidelined for up to four weeks while recovering from the procedure. Associate head coach Jeff Capel will take over head coaching duties during that time.

Krzyzewski spoke about his decision to have surgery:

Dr. William Richardson, Dr. [Allan] Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks. Together, we have determined that surgery is the best course of action at this time. During my recovery process, the team will be in the capable hands of Coach Capel, Coach [Nate] James and Coach [Jon] Scheyer. As soon as the doctors clear me to do so, I look forward to returning and giving our team 100% of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve.

The Blue Devils have opened the 2016-17 season with a 12-2 record with losses to Kansas and Virginia Tech. The team is loaded with talent and is one of the favorites to win a national championship this year, though the season hasn't been without its complications.

Grayson Allen was suspended for an undisclosed period of time and stripped of his captaincy for tripping Elon's Steven Santa Ana earlier this season. It was the third time he's tripped an opponent dating back to last year.

Coach K has also had to navigate the return to action of Harry Giles, the No. 1 recruit from the class of 2016 who has had several knee injuries in his young career. He is slowly being integrated into Duke's big-man rotation, which already includes talented players like Jayson Tatum, Amile Jefferson, Chase Jeter, Antonio Vrankovic and Marques Bolden.

Giles has made just three appearances thus far.

Injuries have been a storyline in general, as both Tatum and Bolden have missed time as well this year.

Nonetheless, the Blue Devils have talent to spare, with Luke Kennard—a Player of the Year candidate—leading the way. The group has the opportunity to earn Coach K his sixth national title, to go along with his 1,055 wins, the most in Division I men's basketball history.

The Blue Devils have the veteran leadership on the team in Matt Jones, Jefferson and Allen—when he returns—to absorb the temporary loss of Coach K and avoid distraction or letdown while Capel takes the reins.

Fran Fraschilla of ESPN doesn't expect any issues:

But the Blue Devils will hit the meat of their ACC schedule without the guidance of their legendary head coach, making the next few weeks fascinating to watch.

       

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