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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2005

Coach K applauds Rockets

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has taken the Blue Devils to the Final Four 10 times. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has taken the Blue Devils to the Final Four 10 times.
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The University of North Carolina might have won the NCAA men's basketball championship last year, but Coach K isn't feeling any heat.

In Toledo for a speech yesterday, when asked about his rival, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski reminded jokingly, "We've won national championships too."

"There's a little bit of competitiveness, but not so much against [UNC] as against the field," Krzyzewski said. "If you just pinpoint one opponent, then there's a good chance you're not going to win the whole thing."

Krzyzewski was the featured speaker at the Italian-American Sports Club scholarship fund dinner at SeaGate Centre last night. The organization awarded $25,000 in scholarships to five area high school athletes.

This is Krzyzewski's 26th year as coach at Duke. The storied coach has taken the Blue Devils to the Final Four 10 times, winning national titles in 1991, 1992, and 2001. He has averaged 25 wins a season and 12 times has been named national coach of the year.

This season, Duke is ranked No. 1 in several preseason polls and has two preseason All-Americans in J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams.

Krzyzewski offered his thoughts on several topics:

On the University of Toledo's team, which he beat for his 700th victory last season: "I've always admired Toledo's program. I was with Steve Mix [yesterday] morning, the 76ers are working out at our facility. I remember how good a player he was, and what a rich history Toledo has."

On USA Basketball being down internationally: "We should all be a little bit disappointed that we haven't competed as well, and then take responsibility for that. I don't think our game is as well taught at every level, and part of that is because it's not coordinated. Sometimes you have to lose or look bad to make changes."

On the NCAA's relationship with the NBA: "Last week in Chicago we had the first-ever meeting between the NBA and NCAA since James Naismith put the game on the map. There has to be a start, and that was a good start."

In his speech, Krzyzewski talked about working as a team, telling stories about growing up in Chicago, playing at Army under Bobby Knight, and some of his best teams. Before the dinner, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford presented Krzyzewski with a key to the city.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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