DURHAM Over the past two or three weeks, Mike Krzyzewski has softened his public critiques of his team.
Before Miami defeated Duke on Feb. 5, the Blue Devils' coach wouldn't shy away from pointing out his team's warts, especially if he wasn't thrilled with the effort on a particular day.
Consider his reaction after an uninspiring performance against St. John's on Jan. 28: "We did enough to win, which almost makes me sick to say that. I hate saying that we did enough to win. That's not who I am, and it's not who the program is. We don't do enough to win - we play really good basketball, and then hopefully we win. To me, it was like a loss. I didn't like today."
Or after that loss to the Hurricanes, when Krzyzewski talked about how he's repeatedly stressed the importance of guarding against complacency to this year's team: "They should listen, and they did not. That's not good. It's not good."
Recently, however, Krzyzewski has taken a different tack.
He has stressed the Blue Devils' accomplishments whenever he can. Fifth-ranked Duke (22-4, 9-2) enters today's game at Boston College (8-18, 3-9) battling with North Carolina and Florida State for the ACC's regular championship.
In the ACC's weekly teleconference last Monday, Krzyzewski was most effusive, saying, "Really, overall, I think these kids have done an unbelievable job."
Then after Duke's comeback over N.C. State on Thursday, Krzyzewski said he wasn't concerned about the way the Blue Devils played in the first half against the Wolfpack.
"You know what is a concern for me today? A celebration of a great win," he said. "Whatever string of things happened, we are 22-4. We're not a perfect team, but we're a good team."
It appears Krzyzewski's shift is designed to reinforce to his young team that Duke should take pride in what it has achieved.
No. 5 Duke at Boston College, 6 p.m. Sunday, ESPNU
Blue Devils must avoid trap
With a key game at No. 20 Florida State looming Thursday, the Blue Devils (22-4, 9-2) will have to make sure they stay focused Sunday against Boston College (8-18, 3-9 ACC). Duke allowed Miami to sneak into Cameron Indoor Stadium and emerge with a win the Sunday before its Feb. 8 trip to North Carolina.
On the surface, Boston College would seem an unlikely candidate to spring an upset. But the Eagles found a way to beat the Seminoles and have generally been competitive the last three weeks.
Duke has yet to lose on the road this season in the ACC. If the Blue Devils can win their final three road games, they will be the first Duke team to go 8-0 on the road in conference since the 1999-2000 team. UNC was the last ACC team to go undefeated on the road in conference play, pulling off that trick in 2007-08. - Jack Daly