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Be Like Mike: Krzyzewski Allowed Gbinije to Find the Right Landing Spot

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Syracuse’s signing of Michael Gbinije seemed to come out of nowhere. He wasn’t on many radars in CNY before last weekend, averaging less than 6 minutes a game for Duke. When he decided to transfer, there was little buzz about where he might end up. Suddenly, Orange Nation woke up Saturday morning the Per’fessor had a new student. How did this all happen so quietly? Because unlike other coaches, Mike Krzyzewski gets it on the transfer front.

Sometimes when a player transfers, it has little to do with basketball. Other times, it’s all about playing time. Jared Uthoff decided Bo Ryan’s system wasn’t for him, and had every right to leave. Iowa’s Mr. Basketball has pro aspirations, and wants to maximize his potential. The Wisconsin coach fought it, likely out of the fear Uthoff could succeed somewhere else and make the program look bad.

Yet Gbinije was able to come to Syracuse without resistance. While Ryan, “settled” for not allowing Uthoff to play in the B1G, Krzyzewski let Gbinije go to a future conference rival. By the time MG suits up for the Orange, Syracuse and Duke will both be ACC powers. Gbinije could wind up beating the Blue Devils for three years, but give Coach K credit for looking past that. 

Jim Boeheim and Coach K have very different approaches. The Per’fesser even wondered aloud a few months ago why there’s a double-standard questioning his tactics (the zone) and not K’s. But ultimately the two HOFers are soldiers-in-arms, working together on Team USA.

Krzyzewski often talks about making his players better men. Boeheim says he’s “just a basketball coach” and what his players do away from the court is up to them. Both approaches work, and the duo has built their legacies by being about the players. Any time either Boeheim or Coach K receives a basketball honor, they always immediately thank their athletes.

However, actions speak louder than words. By allowing Gbinije to transfer in conference proves Coach K practices what he preaches. After the Badgers fiasco, Boeheim publicly said his friend had gotten this one wrong. When Dion Waiters wanted to transfer, Boeheim reportedly told him no problem. Whatever was best for Dion. Waiters’s mom knew that would bring her son right back to SU.

That college coaches have the power to restrict where their players can transfer is a joke. That many actually exercise that power is even worse. It’s nice to see in this case two of the most successful coaches of all time came together and did the right thing. Be the change you want to see in the world. Maybe the NCAA will follow suit and fix this embarrassment. But probably not.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

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