How John Sheer Duke’s Era Begins

DURHAM, NC – John Sheer had to go up the stairs.

Not just in his life or career—like getting to where he is now, the new coach for Duke’s men’s basketball program since Coach K retired in April—but the actual steps leading up to his office on the fifth floor of the Michael W Krzyzewski Center.

The building is undergoing changes and has closed elevators, so it is taking Scheyer longer than usual to reach his destination: an office located one floor below the floor of Mike Krzyzewski, who recruited and led him to a national title as a player and later made him one of his lieutenants before calling him his successor, and he still maintains with it.

“This is how I get my exercise every morning,” he said.

Arriving at his spacious office, Scheyer strutted around new digs like a designer on HGTV. The sleek, soft sofas arrived just a few days ago. The glass table on the right is large enough for meetings that require the entire staff. Then he pointed to the sturdy oak trees adjacent to the building. Their parking space will be an extension of the men’s and women’s basketball facility.

When he’s here, you never have to worry about his players garnishing the number of hours they spend in the gym. He can see their cars from his window.

Even with the unopened chests outside his door, he – the new office, the new job – began to feel at home.

It was a really ‘Oh my God’ moment of a recruiting meeting [after becoming head coach]“And you sit down and everyone is looking at you,” said Scheyer, who spent eight seasons as an assistant under Krzyzewski. What do you have to say?’ That’s when it feels so real.”

However, something is missing. Well, someone is missing.


Scheyer Krzyzewski doesn’t see much.

Sure, if he needed some advice, or just wanted to talk to the game’s most winning coach who retired in April after driving the Blue Devils into the Final Four for the thirteenth time, he could just call him. But Krzyzewski, who still serves as an ambassador for the university, has not had a permanent presence around his former student or team, although he is often on campus and active in his official duties.

The atmosphere around the program has changed.

He said, “I just think everybody’s on the loose now.” Jeremy Roach, a key player on the Final Four last season and a veteran of this year. “When Coach K is around, you obviously want to make sure you’re doing everything right for him because that’s what he expects, 100 percent. I feel like everyone is relaxed now. Kind of relaxing, not stressful. I don’t have to think too much. . very comfortable. “

Don’t take it the wrong way.

Roach described nothing but the focus and discipline required by a venerable coach almost unparalleled in his career. Sure, the accomplishments of John Wooden, who won 10 national titles in 12 seasons at UCLA, appear to be legendary nearly 50 years after his retirement in 1975. But Krzyzewski has consistently found success as the sport has evolved, since only 48 teams have competed in a championship NCAA, for one era and done this century. He started his Duke career in the same year that “Love Boat” was a popular TV show. By the time he left, college basketball fans could watch Duke’s games on their phones.

According to Shire, coach Kay’s distance after retiring from the program during the vacation period is by design. Krzyzewski wants the 35-year-old coach to find out, the same way he did when he took over for Duke at just 33. But Scheyer also knows his former coach trusts him.

“I just take it there,” Cher said. “At the end of the day, there is an amazing trust we have together. He knows that I know the history of our program. I know the values ​​we have in our program and those values ​​are what I believe in.”

But sometimes the legends still survive.

After the late John Thompson Jr. left his position at Georgetown, he continued to attend vocal practices and opinions at press conferences for his son John Thompson Jr, who was the second coach hired by Georgetown after his father’s departure. He could see the team’s training facility from his house across the river, and he’d call the ex-coach on his schedule. When Kevin Ole Okun led to the national title in 2014, former coach Jim Calhoun held an intermittent press conference in the locker room before the championship game.

And years before his death in 2017, former Michigan State coach Judd Heathcote told ESPN he couldn’t shake off his passion for basketball after retirement, even though he had more freedom to do whatever he wanted.

“I’m not sure I’m enjoying anything to do with retirement,” he said at the time.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he’s not sure how Krzyzewski, one of his best friends, will feel about retiring once the 2022-23 season begins. Boheim, 77, said he’s back for his 47th season, in part because his teachers once told him they weren’t happy when they quit.

“If I had left at 65 or 70, I would probably feel upset,” Boheim said. “Many coaches tell me, when I see them, ‘Don’t stop.’ Many coaches are retired.”

Many expected the same love for the game and his school to turn Krzyzewski into Scheyer’s shadow. Instead, he let Shire shine through without interference.

“It’s definitely different, I don’t see [Krzyzewski] About that much,” said Chris Carwell, Scheyer’s assistant coach and 2000 ACC player under Krzyzewski. He’s been a staple of the university, not just in the men’s program but for the school, for 42 years. Not being around, it’s different. It is there, but not every day. But John did an excellent job trying to pick something up for him.”

For months, Scheyer and his assistants—Amile Jefferson, Jai Lucas, and Mike Schrage (special assistant head coach)—played a series of intense tennis competitions (Carrawell recovering from knee surgery) on the courts near the office. There are discussions about the outcome. Cher said he’s been king of the field during recent games, a respectable achievement because he believes his assistants are secretly taking lessons.

But Lucas disagrees with Shire’s remark. He said, “I am undefeated.”

Fun Battles is Scheyer’s attempt to encourage work-life balance in a field that has traditionally celebrated its absence. A husband and father of three, he wants to ensure he has family time in his new role.

It was this approach that convinced Lucas, one of the college basketball’s most prolific assistants, to leave Kentucky and move to Durham. Lucas, whose father was NBA star and coach John Lucas II, already has deep connections to the area (his parents were born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, and a local school was named after his grandfather). And Scheyer’s approach to teamwork was too attractive to ignore.

“I work with [Scheyer] And being closer in age, you work more collaboratively,” said the 33-year-old former ranger in Florida and Texas. If you work with someone like [John Calipari]He doesn’t need any help. What am I going to do for [Calipari] On the basketball side? You earn his streaks. This is something that I felt would help me in my coaching career get to my next step because I want to become a head coach.”


Scheyer’s personal touch on the show hasn’t diminished Duke’s blue reputation, or her chances of future success. In June, he hired Rachel Baker, who has worked in sports marketing for both Nike and the NBA, to help players take advantage of Name, Image, and Similarity (NIL) opportunities.

The talent pipeline has not dried up since Krzyzewski retired either. Duke enters this season with his upcoming No. 1 recruiting category, according to ESPN. The 2023 Recruitment Class will feature four of the top 16 players. He has an edge in the future fight for Cameron Boozer, the number one player in the 2025 class and also the son of former Duke star Carlos Boozer.

“I chose Duke for two reasons,” Dereck Lively, 7-foot-1 . college student center Choosing the expected lottery project, He said. “My relationship with the upcoming recruits, and the relationship I have with Coach Shire. I really like the fact that he was able to be real with me. I was able to put my trust in him.”

“Also, coming to Duke, the situation in Duke. It’s a new era. All the lights will be on us. Everyone will doubt us.”

They will not doubt the potential.

Together, Lively and Roach are a transitional nightmare. Dariq Whitehead, another incoming freshman and prospective lottery pick who is recovering from foot surgery but expected to be available for the greater part of the season, is a featured winger and goalscorer.

While this team has talent, it doesn’t look like some of the more imposing Duke teams of the past, with a superstar who can do whatever he wants on the ground. That’s fine for Cher, who won a national title in 2010 with a group that didn’t feature any lottery picks.

“We have a lot of diversity in this team,” he said. “We have a lot of unselfishness, really good passes. I don’t know if we only have one player, you give him the ball and get out of his way. Which is also exciting, at the same time, because we have to score together.”

As Scheyer instructed Duke’s first team last month, NBA All-Star Jayson Tatum entered the gym with his son, Deuce. Tatum was there to practice as he prepared for his sixth season in the NBA.

As he was taking snapshots from various places around the field and talking with the current players, there were whispers in the gym. From the corner entrance, the name of the facility — who coached Tatum during the 2016-2017 season — walked onto the field, grabbed the young NBA star’s shoulder and chatted with him.

About 15 minutes later, Coach K left the field and entered the weight room, watching from behind the window while Scheyer continued training. There was the screeching sound of shoes on the floor as Scheyer halted a play to show his team the correct way to get off a high screen.

Krzyzewski has not spoken to Scheyer or any other player. He had no interest in making a scene. He just noticed in silence, then left.

“It’s a challenge because there’s a lot of noise and for us, I’m sure anything I do will be criticized,” Shire said.

“Bring it in. I know it comes with the zone. But it’s the same for our guys. Block out the noise and play for each other, and I really think good things are going to happen.”

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