Sweet 16 report from Houston: Coach K vs. Me

By Deana Nazworth, special to ACCSports.com

I’m not usually one for hero-worship. I’ve been let down far too often by well-respected celebrities. I’ve seen my own aging parents’ mortality and flaws. I, myself, stumble on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Humans are imperfect creatures, and we are not meant to be worshipped.
The only detour in that philosophy for me though is Mike Krzyzewski. I know it’s a bad idea. There are only so many ways for a man in such a public spotlight to maintain the levels required for idolatry. Opposing fans will tell you that he whines. He swears. He uses his advantages unfairly. He seems “above it all” when he skips the halftime interview.
Three words: I don’t care.
My love for that man goes back long before his championships. Long before people really jumped on the hate wagon. Long before he was K. As a future teacher and coach, I watched meticulously. I consumed books and articles and interviews. I wanted to lead as he leads.
So, in 40 minutes, I’ll be in the same room with him, and a part of me is worried that all my journalistic integrity is going to take a big ol’ nosedive. My best friend always warns against something we call “Chimp Grin”. This is the moment where awkwardness meets excitement, and the result is a big, frozen, frightening smile that invites a lot of “Oh, bless her heart”. Like this:

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It’s not pretty. And I’m terrified of getting it right as he takes the dais.
All morning, I’ve been giving myself pep talks, and I think I struck gold. Coach K and I are not that different. Seriously. Let me break it down in a few game points.

Record and Experience:

Coach K has coached college basketball for 40 years, and he has 1,014 wins.
I coached junior high girls’ basketball for 13 years. When you do the 7th grade girls “B” team frustration conversion rate, that’s like 39 years. I don’t know how many games I won officially, but I will tell you that I once won a double overtime B-team game 9-6.  And I only had five players. Truth.
Result:  basically a push.
Championships Earned:
Coach K has won 13 ACC championships, gone to 11 Final Fours, and taken home 4

National Championships.
I coached a national champion (Kristen Grant, Texas A&M, 2011). Admittedly, I coached her in 8th grade, but I’m still going to claim it.
Result: I’m going to give K a slight edge here. All tied up 1-1.

Players Drafted in the WNBA:
Coach K has ZERO.
Me: One. Erika Valek, Detroit Shock, 2004. I coached her in Little Dribblers when she was in the 4th grade.
Result: I think facts speak. Advantage: me. That’s 2-1 for those of you scoring at home.

Players in NBA:
Coach K has had 49 players go to the NBA. Not too shabby.
Me: Only one — Avery Bradley.
Result: Going to have to give it to him. Just barely edged me out on that one. 2-2
But I taught my one pro to write complex sentences and identify rhetorical appeals. Yeah, conjugate that, Mike. (I’m just kidding. Nobody tell Coach K.)
I’m feeling good. I’m pumped. I can do this.
45 minutes later
Status update:

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And I forgot to start my recorder for a good four minutes.
Winner: Mike Krzyzewski. Again.

Be sure to follow Deana’s Sweet 16 coverage from Houston (including live tweeting yesterday’s press conferences) at @lemonberry32