Mike Krzyzewski‘s comments on Duke basketball rotation still puzzling

Duke basketball (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports) /

Given the recent Duke basketball rotation strategies, Mike Krzyzewski‘s comments are more puzzling.

After two games, one of the biggest questions with the Duke basketball team is the lack of playing time for its bigs.

Five-star freshman Mark Williams has played a combined eight minutes against Coppin State and Michigan State, four-star freshman Henry Coleman played one minute against the Eagles and did not see the floor against the Spartans, and graduate transfer Patrick Tape did not play in either game.

Granted, Coppin State played a heavy guard lineup, so the limited minutes can be excusable in the first game of the season. But not seeing the heralded forwards on the floor against Michigan State was a troubling sign.

While the Spartans out-rebounded Duke by six in their victory in Durham, Williams was able to reel in three rebounds in his four minutes.

Williams also threw down an impressive alley-oop in his four minutes against Coppin State.

So why didn’t he play more?

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That question remains to be answered, and it’s troubling given head coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s comments regarding his team one month ago.

In meeting with the media in early November, the Hall of Famer said, “These kids are really together, and we’re athletic. We’re young. We don’t have as much separation from one to 11, but we’re getting more. They’re making each other better.”

Perhaps there is more separation from one to 11 than the Duke head coach alluded to.

In the same press conference, Krzyzewski explicitly praised Mark Williams for his performance during practice, calling him “somebody we’ve never really had,” with his  7-foot-1 height and 7-foot-5 wingspan.

Why hasn’t the Duke basketball center played?

Could an injury be holding Mark Williams back?

“He’s young, and he’s always had some tendonitis, knee problems,” Coach K said last month.

If there is an injury that is holding Williams back and Duke is being cautious with the center, then that is a different story. But if Krzyzewski thinks Williams is not up to speed with the game-plan or his ability to successfully perform, then there is an issue at hand.

In the media availability, Krzyzewski also explained that he loved his team entering the season:

“[We have] a lot of good pieces, so we’ll be playing more people than we’ve normally played, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be equal playing [time]. When you get separation, the guys who separate, some need to play more, and they will.”

Obviously, Mark Williams, Henry Coleman, and Patrick Tape haven’t separated enough in the eyes of Mike Krzyzewski to play much in their first two games as Duke Blue Devils.

Will the trio of forwards play on Friday night against Bellarmine?

Unless an injury is prevalent, if neither player can get significant minutes in that game, then Duke has a major problem on its hands.

Tipoff is at 7:00 pm EST (ACC Network Extra) inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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