DURHAM – There have been only rare glimpses of Mike Krzyzewski since his final game as Duke’s basketball coach.
He was seen on national television at the TD Garden on April 20, sitting front row for Game 2 of the Celtics-Nets Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup that featured three of his former players: Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry.
But besides popping up in the occasional Duke men’s basketball Twitter video – most notably introducing himself to new assistant coach Jai Lucas – it’s been mostly radio silence from the 75-year-old Hall of Famer.
But on Tuesday as Jon Scheyer addressed the media for the first time as the Blue Devils’ new coach, the 34-year-old gave some insight into what Coach K has been doing over the last month.
To sum it up: puppy training.
“He’s been working hard with the dog,” Scheyer said while flashing a mischievous smile.
It was Scheyer, and the rest of the 2021-2022 team, coaches and staff, who gifted Krzyzewski with an 8-week-old Silver Lab puppy named Coach at Duke’s annual awards banquet on April 14, 12 days after the Blue Devils saw their season end in the national semifinal to UNC. Krzyzewski ended his career after 47 years — 42 at Duke — with 1,202 wins, five national championships and several coaching records that possibly will never be broken.
“You know, since you have a lot more time now, coach, we thought you needed something to train. And so we want you to meet the new member of your family — Coach,” Scheyer said before presenting Krzyzewski with the puppy.
It was a sentimental gift for Krzyzewski. He spent his final season lamenting the loss of his 12-year-old Labrador Retriever, Blue, who died last summer from lung cancer. There seems little doubt that Coach K, a West Point graduate, will have the necessary discipline to train his new puppy.
Scheyer said Tuesday the transition between him and Coach K has been “pretty natural” and that having a succession plan in place over the last 11 months allowed for an “organic” changing of the guard. Scheyer will undoubtedly still see Krzyzewski, who kept his office at Duke, often.
“We’re never going to need a calendar (to find time to meet),” Scheyer said. “He’s going to be someone I still go to at different times. We have a relationship, you know? We care about each other.”
David Thompson is an award-winning reporter for the USA Today Network covering NC State and Duke athletics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @daveth89.