Nerlens And “The Beast”: Three Questions For Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas

ATLANTA — The college hoops season is young, but Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari’s verbal flop-and-forth at the Champions Classic in Atlanta Tuesday night was as entertaining as any midseason match-up.

It all started at halftime of No. 9 Duke’s 75-68 win over Calipari’s No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats, when Coach Cal told ESPN’s Andy Katz that Duke “was flopping all over the place.”  Coach Cal then took it a step further by saying, “If they were in the NBA, they’d all be suspended.”

“There’s a difference between a charge and a flop,” Coach K said in response after the game, commending his team for their tough defense against Kentucky’s athletes.

Then Coach K—who also has a better grip on the Association’s new flopping policy, which only suspends six-time offenders—added this little rib punch: “And we don’t make any money so we can’t be fined.”

Before Duke and Kentucky tipped off, Keith Appling hit two huge shots down the stretch to push No. 21 Michigan State past No. 7 Kansas 67-64.  Appling, now a junior, had 19 points while his rookie running mate Gary Harris had 18 in his second Spartan battle.

I didn’t hear Tom Izzo talk after the game,  but the other three coaches in the Georgia Dome that evening—Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari, and Bill Self of Kansas—spoke how coaches speak early in seasons.  They droll on through uncomfortable smirks and use words like green, learning experience, roles and valuable teaching tool.

So when coaches say stuff like, That’s something we’ll work on in practice, these should be those that’s.

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