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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to undergo back surgery, take leave of absence
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will undergo lower back surgery on Friday to remove a fragment of a herniated disk and will take a leave of absence as he recovers, the university announced.
The anticipated recovery time from the surgery is expected to take at least four weeks.
Associate head coach Jeff Capel will coach the team in his absence. The Blue Devils will take on Boston College on January 7 at home.
“Dr. William Richardson, Dr. Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “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 James and Coach 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.”
Krzyzewski has been bothered by his back for a while and the pain has been “much worse than he's let on," ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports.
In 1994, Krzyzewski underwent back surgery in October and took a leave of absence for the remainder of the season after January 1995. Duke was 9–3 at the time and finished the remaining games 4–15. Krzyzewski underwent knee surgery in April 2016.
Krzyzewski holds the Division I wins record with 1,055 victories in his 41 seasons as a head coach. He has led Duke to five NCAA championships.
Krzyzewski is coming off a summer in which he coached his final Olympics for Team USA as he compiled an 88–1 record as head coach from 2005 to 2016.
Duke is 12–2 on the season and sits atop the ACC. The Blue Devils are coming off a 89–75 loss to Virginia Tech as Grayson Allen serves a suspension for tripping an Elon player on Dec. 21.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to have surgery
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will miss an undetermined number of games as he is scheduled to undergo lower back surgery.
The procedure will remove a fragment of a herniated disk, and the expected recovery time is four weeks. He will coach Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech before current associate head coach and former Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel will step in as the interim coach, beginning with Jan. 7th’s game against Boston College. Capel also filled in for Coach K last season when he missed a game against Georgia Tech.
Capel was the point guard for Duke in 1995, when Coach K was forced to missed the second half of the season due to complications from a different back surgery. The Blue Devils went 13-18 that season.
“Dr. William Richardson, Dr. Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks,” said Krzyzewski. “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 James and Coach 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.”
This is yet another twist in what has been a weird year for the Blue Devils. It started with Duke landing one of the nation’s best recruiting classes before watching all three of their highly-touted newcomers – Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Marques Bolden – miss the start of the season through injury.
After Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson carried the team to terrific start in their absence, the Blue Devils struggled against Elon and Tennessee State before Christmas and followed that up by getting pasted in their ACC opener at Virginia Tech over the weekend.
They are also still dealing with the fallout of Grayson Allen’s latest tripping incident. Allen is still indefinitely suspended from competition, and that is just the beginning of what is currently ailing Duke.
Duke’s season is at a crossroads. For a team that looked to be the heavy favorite to win the title as recently as Dec. 10th, this has been quite the turn of events.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski Will Take Leave to Have Back Surgery
Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke men’s basketball coach, will have lower back surgery this week and take a leave of absence from the team, the university announced on Monday.
Krzyzewski’s recovery time for the surgery, to remove a fragment of a herniated disk, is four weeks, Duke said.
“As soon as the doctors clear me to do so, I look forward to returning and giving our team 100 percent of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve,” Krzyzewski said in a statement.
Krzyzewski, 69, will coach the team Wednesday night against Georgia Tech. Beginning with Saturday’s game against Boston College, an assistant coach, Jeff Capel, will step in. A former Duke player, he has been a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and Oklahoma.
Duke is 12-2 this season and ranked No. 8 in the latest Associated Press poll. Despite the success, the team has attracted negative attention because of its star player Grayson Allen, who has tripped opponents three times in a year. Allen has been suspended indefinitely and stripped of the team captaincy.
In the 1994-95 season, Krzyzewski left the team after 12 games because of back problems. Under the assistant Pete Gaudet, the team failed to make the N.C.A.A. tournament for the only time in the past 33 years. Krzyzewski returned the next season.
A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Krzyzewski has a career record of 1,055-323, the most wins of any coach in Division I men’s history. He has coached the Blue Devils to five national championships.
He also recently finished a career as the United States men’s national team coach, winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals.