GREENSBORO, N.C. - They're two coaches who do not want to face each other here today, not because each fears the other's team, but because they cherish their friendship.
It's the mentor and the protege. In alphabetical order it's “Coach K” versus “Coach Q.” That's also the pecking order and will probably always remain so.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski of top-seeded Duke and Missouri's Quin Snyder will meet in a second-round game of the East Region of the NCAA Tournament in Greens-boro Coliseum starting at 1:10 p.m. UCLA and Utah State will play in the second game.
“I would choose not to play Quin's team anytime because it's Quin's team,” Krzyzewski said. “Quin is like a member of my family and I feel like I'm a part of his family. So why would you want to compete against someone you love? I wouldn't want to do that. It's not my choice that I'm in this situation.”
It's not by chance, either. Duke battered Monmouth while the Tigers held on to upset Georgia in first-round games here Thursday night. Today's second-round pairing also has to do with a storyline, something the NCAA loves to pitch and something television loves to catch.
“What I think is of the utmost importance is that this is momentary and no matter what happens it shouldn't have an impact on what we feel about each other personally, and I think a lot of times in sports it does,” Krzyzewski added. “I know it won't, but I hate to be in that situation. I wouldn't want to play against Tommy Amaker's team (Seton Hall) or Mike Brey's team (Notre Dame). I just wouldn't want to do that.
“I think it would be different in the NBA if we were playing a bunch. That's why I would never schedule them. I don't like to do that, and I won't like tomorrow for that reason. Will I like tomorrow coaching my team? Yes I will. That's my job.”
Snyder, Amaker and Brey all played at Duke under Coach K. Snyder, 34, replaced Amaker as the Blue Devils' point guard and served as an assistant coach under Coach K for six years before becoming Missouri's head coach two years ago.
Snyder, called “Coach Q” by his players, said he concurs with his former coach's feelings.
“I'm really glad our team is in this game but it's a difficult thing given the nature of all the relationships and how much all those people are associated with that program and built that program,” he added. “I used to wear that jersey. That's tough.
“I take solace in the fact I know what he is to me in my life and what I am to him as well. Regardless of what happens, I have the ultimate confidence in that relationship. It's strong. In a game, that relationship has a different dynamic. It's not me coaching against him.”
There was a perception that when Krzyzewski, the pupil, took his Duke team against his former mentor, Bob Knight and Indiana, for the first time in the 1992 Final Four, their relationship became somewhat detached. Maybe it had something to do with Duke winning 81-78 and then beating Michigan that year for its second consecutive national championship.
Asked if that was what he was referring to in his remarks concerning his relationship with Coach Q, Coach K said, “I don't refer. I would tell you. I'm not like an innuendo guy. The relationship I have with coach Knight is a private relationship and this is not the forum to talk about it.
“As far as I felt as the so-called pupil then, I was nervous and emotional. Let's see how I feel right now. Yeah, I'm nervous and emotional. I feel the same way. How does that happen? I guess that's the answer.”
QUIET JOURNEY: Utah State point guard Benard Rock is from New York, but liked Arizona when he played there with his church basketball team. He accepted an offer from a cousin to move to Arizona and play high school basketball there. He then played at New Mexico Military Junior College before being recruited by Utah State.
He found the wide open spaces of the West a far cry from the crowded and noisy streets of New York City.
“It was more quiet then I was used to and at first it was hard to sleep,” Rock said. “I was used to sirens, fire trucks and gun shots. And then I was hearing crickets at night. It was hard to get used to.”
SLICK TRICK: UCLA coach Steve Lavin, his hair heavily greased and combed back, was asked, “Mousee or jell?” yesterday.
He said he recently switched from STP to Penzoil and he's down from three-quarters of a quart to a half-quart.
“There's a Starbucks where I stop every morning to get a cup of coffee,” Lavin, a quick wit, added. “There's a Jiffy Lube across the street. I get a cup of coffee and a quart of oil and I'm set for the day. When I get the quart of oil in there it's like teflon.”
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