Mike Krzyzewski discussed his players this week after Duke’s home loss to Illinois, and the legendary coach questioned playing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Blue Devils announced a day later that they were not going to play any more non-conference games and that they would let their players go home briefly before Christmas. Some criticized Coach K and said his words and actions were the product of sour grapes from his team losing. Another prominent coach does not think the players should be pitied.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo joined “Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio” on Thursday and disagreed with Coach K.
“I have great respect for (Coach K), but like, I didn’t let my kids go home for Thanksgiving … at Christmas time, we’re not going home. Sure that was hard. But LeBron (James) stayed for three months (in the bubble). Sometimes there’s sacrifices you have to make. That was my way of saying, ‘Don’t feel sorry for the players. Let’s give them something to do.’ And what do they love to do? Play,” Izzo said.
Izzo also told the hosts that he believes letting the young men play is better for their mental health than having them sit at home with their parents.
“You talk about mental health … they were home for five months. Imagine being 20 years old and being at home with your parents. The greatest mental health is when an athlete is in athletics… I got (COVID) and I was as diligent as can be. I did everything right and I still got it. If we take care of our own business, we can still get fans back in the stands. We can’t quit working. We can’t quit living. I definitely don’t think we should quit playing, we just have to be more diligent, which takes more work,” Izzo said.
Izzo hopes and believes that athletics can provide a bright spot for the country during the pandemic.
Michigan State has been playing and is 5-0 this season, including a win over Duke. Its scheduled game against Virginia on Wednesday was postponed.