They’re miles apart down at the creek

NEW HOPE CREEK – For a brief time Thursday, the sun was shining

over Duke while it poured over Carolina. But by the end of the day,

a clear sky covered everything.


basketball coaches on opposite sides

of the creek spoke for the first time about the upcoming season,

and they couldn’t have been more different. They talked about last

year and this year and strategy and tempo and freshmen and seniors.

And then they both talked about the one thing on the minds of

sports fans all across the state.


Or more specifically, agents.

And once again, we saw how completely opposite the coaches at

the center of the best rivalry in all of college sports are at

their core. Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams are nothing alike.

They live eight miles apart, but they might as well live on

opposite coastlines and not creekbanks.

This week, the coaches of all the Big Four programs are meeting

the media for the first preseason look at the programs. Of course

Duke and Carolina went on the same day.

Krzyzewski went first, walking to a podium dressed in sweats and

full of optimism about the new season. He and his program will hang

a banner tonight. Well, they’ll actually hang four from last year’s

mythical ACC regular season title, the ACC Tournament title, a

Final Four banner and the NCAA championship banner.

He was happy as he could be, talking about the new kids and the

returning upperclassmen, talking about how Duke will run more this

year and play full-court defense. And then he was asked about


“The vast majority of agents are reputable people,” he said.

“They’re pros. A lot of them are good friends and have represented

our players over the years. And those who have not, I’ve gotten to

know through USA Basketball, a lot of them. The guys I know I

trust. I would hope that there’s not this wave of crucifying

agents, because that’s not right. Most of them are great guys and

great people.”

Like we said, the sun was out over Duke for much of the day.

Unlike in Chapel Hill, where Williams walked into the first presser

of the preseason dressed in coat and tie and with a wry look on his

face. He talked about last year and the struggles of his longest

season ever as a coach. They’ll hang no banners at Carolina this


He was as happy as he had to be. Williams talked about his

freshmen and his returning players and how he might alter his own

approach to how he looks at basketball this year. And then he was

asked about agents.

“I don’t like agents,” he said. “Even the good ones. I don’t

like them. I tell them ‘You’re the best in a terrible


“I had one player come to me one time and said he was going to

law school and was thinking about becoming an agent. I said “Go

talk to somebody else. I will never speak to you again.’ And I

wouldn’t have. There is no way in Hades he would’ve ever had one of

my players.”

Williams said his agent is his wife, Wanda.

Across the creek, agents have been known to sit behind the Duke


All posturing aside, the two coaches agree on the dangers of

agents and their runners getting too close to college athletes. And

the ongoing NCAA football investigation at Carolina was the target

of not-too veiled comments both coaches made Thursday.

Williams said he personally watches everything in his program,

checks every free ticket list and knows every person hanging around

the locker room. Krzyzewski said he lectures the kids and their

parents and reminds the players that runners might actually be

people you think are friends.

In the end, they both said it came down to running clean

programs no matter what the sport. Krzyzewski said you had to hire

good people, make them a part of a family, a culture, so that when

someone runs afoul of the family, someone would know it.

“Whether you have 12 (players) or 80 or a hundred, we all have a

responsibility to try to do what we can to stop it, including the

agents,” he said.

Both said, in the end, there’s no way to know what all the

players are doing all the time. They agree on that much.

“You have no way of monitoring everything they do every second

of every day,” Williams said. “And yet, that’s what you want to do

and what you’re held accountable for in some cases. It’s not an

easy deal.”

They agree about a lot of things, Roy and K, but what makes them

the best at what they do is what makes them individuals. They run

the top two basketball programs in America, and no one doubts the

good intentions of either. And no one can argue with the


They live eight miles apart, and they are as different as night

and day. But you can jump across the creek between them.

Contact Ed Hardin at 373-7069 or


2009-10 record: 35-5 (13-3).

Key players lost: G Jon Scheyer, C Brian Zoubek, F Lance


Key additions: G Seth Curry, G Kyrie Irving, G Tyler Thornton, F

Josh Hairston

Possible starting lineup: PG Nolan Smith, G Seth Curry, F Kyle

Singler, F Mason Plumlee, F Miles Plumlee.

Biggest issue: Duke must reload without a true center, something

Duke has gotten used to over the years. But there’s no Zoubek now,

and despite the return of two key starters, the Devils will

resemble teams of previous seasons more than last year’s NCAA

championship team.

Coach’s quote: “To ‘repeat’ is a bad word. I remember when Jerry

Colangelo asked me to coach the national team again, I said to him

‘It’s not going to be the same.’ And he said ‘Yeah, isn’t that

great’?” – Mike Krzyzewski on defending the NCAA title. North


2009-10 record: 20-17 (5-11).

Key players lost: F Deon Thompson, F Ed Davis, G Will Graves, G

Marcus Ginyard.

Key additions: F Harrison Barnes, G Reggie Bullock, G Kendall


Possible starting lineup: G Kendall Marshall, G Reggie Bullock,

C Ty Zeller, F Harrison Barnes, F John Henson.

Biggest issue: Carolina will play three freshmen. Guard play

will determine whether the Heels return to the elite level in the

ACC, and outside shooting will once again be the biggest concern.

Harrison Barnes will make up for a lot, though. He’s the real


Coach’s quote: “A lot of my friends said “Hey that’ll help make

you a better coach.’ I said I’d rather stay the bad coach I was

before.” – Roy Williams on last year.