My K Academy Journal 2006

The following is an account of my experience at K Academy—a four-day adult basketball camp that gives participants an inside look into Duke’s three-time national championship basketball program. 57 players from around the country attended this year’s camp, held July 27th – 30th. From opening day tryouts to Sunday’s championship tournament, we played games on Coach K Court in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Coaches at the camp included former Duke players, as well as Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Day 1 – Thursday July 27th, 2006

I arrived in North Carolina on Thursday and took a cab to the Washington Duke Inn on the Duke University Campus which would serve as my home for the next few days. The Washington Duke is a beautiful hotel built in the style of an old English country inn.

After checking into the hotel, I picked up my K Academy gear and got settled into my room. Next up was a luncheon for the campers and staff where I caught up with a lot of the guys from past K Academies. Of the 57 attendees, there were only 12 new faces this year.

After lunch we headed over to Cameron for a shoot around. Coach K welcomed us and officially opened the camp. He encouraged us to celebrate the game of basketball and to have fun while playing during the next few days.

Having just returned from coaching the best players in the world like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade (on the US Olympic team), and now getting to coach us, Coach K thanked us for helping him keep “balance”.

We watched a video of Duke basketball highlights and then Coach K introduced us to the K Academy Coaches and staff.

Next we stretched and broke up into teams for our two evaluation games. All of the games throughout the camp were played in historic Cameron Indoor Stadium. The evaluation games allow the coaches to scout the ““talent” and begin planning their strategy for the who they will select in the draft later that night.

A number of the current Duke players like Demarcus Nelson and David McClure stopped by the check out the K Academy as well.

After the evaluation games, I went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. The first night’s dinner was held in Duke’s Hall of Champions. Cocktail hour provided the opportunity to socialize with any of the coaches and other players. Next was dinner and the draft.

Coach K began the draft by discussing his recent experiences coaching the USA Basketball Team as well as his upcoming book “Beyond Basketball”, co written with his daughter Jamie Spatola.

As each player was drafted, video highlights of their play were shown on the video screen along with commentary from Jay Bilas and some of the coaches. It was hilarious.

I was drafted by Team Dawkins, coached by Johnny Dawkins, Chip England, and Alaa Abdelnaby.

After dinner I ran into Trajan Langdon back at the Washington Duke. Trajan and I had gotten to know each other during the past two K Academies and I was hoping to see him again this year. He’s a great guy who is very personable and friendly. Trajan and I spoke about his living and professionally playing career in Russia.

In the hotel bar I also ran into some other K Academy coaches Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, Chip England, and Quin Snyder. Talking hoops with these guys was awesome. Next I stopped by the hospitality suite where I chatted with Dave Henderson before heading to bed around 12.

Day 2 – Friday July 28, 2006

The next day, I woke up at 6:30 to grab breakfast and then head over to Cameron to watch the Coaches vs players 4 on 4 games.

At around 8 we took our team photos and then had a lecture from Coach K and Chris Duhon. Coach K introduced Chris and then showed us his senior highlight video. Chris played for Duke from 2000-2004 and helped lead the team to a National Championship in 2001. Now captain of the Chicago Bulls, Chris credits the leadership he learned at Duke with helping him to succeed as a pro.

After Chris’ lecture, we stretched and broke up for our team practices. Coach Dawkins, Engelland, and Abdelnaby worked with us on basic team principles and our offense. Chip Engelland, Assistant Coach with the San Antonio Spurs, helped each of us work on our shooting.

Our first game of the day was a tough one against Team Snyder. After going into in overtime, we lost by one point.

Following the game, I worked with Coach Abdelnaby on my post moves.

After lunch, Coach K shared with us some more about his experience coaching the USA Olympic Basketball Team. To motivate his players, Coach K explained how he tried to create an atmosphere of being part of something bigger than themselves. “It’s not about winning the gold medal,” Coach expressed to his team. “It’s about setting a higher standard.” It was fascinating to hear Coach talk not only about what he was teaching, but also what he was “learning”.

We won our second game of the day led by guard Joe Fagan who played great. Everyone on the team contributed to the win including Wayne Chang with his hustle.

After the game I went to the Duke bookstore to see if there were any Duke jerseys I didn’t already have.

At dinner Friday night, held at The University Club, the K Academy “Seniors” were honored. 2006 was the fourth annual K Academy. Attendees of the three previous camps were now considered “Seniors”. Keeping with a Duke Basketball tradition, each of the twelve K Academy “Seniors” (listed below) had a highlight video produced for them. Everyone watched the videos as well as a special Coach K musical tribute.

K Academy Seniors: Jeff Goettman, David Duckler, Ross Deutsch, Eric Savage, Randy Nichols, Bob Seelman, Jeff Bytomski. Tor Peterson, Gary Sudhalter, Jim Yuschak, Kenneth Bergstol, and Gunnar Peterson.

After a great dinner with my team and Coaches, it was back to the hospitality suite for more cards, stories, and fun with Chris Carrawell, Mark Alarie, and Chip Engelland.

Day 3 – Saturday July 29, 2006

Coach Dawkins let our team sleep in on Saturday. With the possibility of playing up to nine games in four days, sleep is at a premium while at camp. When I arrived at Cameron current Duke players David McClure, Greg Paulus and Jon Scheyer were participating in a lecture on dealing with media.

After the lecture, we had a team video session and reviewed our offensive spacing and defense. Following our video session I worked on my shooting in Card Gym. While practicing I noticed Abby Waner working out as well. Abby is a starting guard on Duke’s women’s team. I was very impressed watching Abby shoot and make a number of threes from pro range.

Before our next game, we had a team meeting in the Duke locker room where the team dresses before games. We watched some more video and discussed our scouting report for the next game. Our strategy was good, and we executed well as a team winning our morning game.

One of the themes of this year’s camp was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1986 Duke Basketball Team. The 86 team is credited with forming the foundation of Duke’s tremendous success.

After lunch there was a lecture by members of 1986 Duke team. The panel included team members Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, Dave Henderson, Jay Bilas, and Coach K. Each of the players explained how they made their decision to come to Duke. All of them said the primary reason was Coach K. Coach K talked about his recruitment of the players, explaining how he looked beyond their basketball abilities, saw the families, character, and quality of the people.

After the lecture we had a team shoot around in Card Gym before our next game. Our second game of the day was against Team Bilas and it was a tough one. Down by four with only a minute to play, we rallied to win the game when Joe Fagan found Suds for driving layup.

Friday night was special with dinner and entertainment at the Emily K Center. This was our first opportunity to see the facility and it was impressive.

Before dinner we enjoyed singing and dancing performances from local children who attend the Emily K Center. After dinner was the sports auction MC’d by Jessie Itzler. Jessie did a great job getting everyone involved and excited about the items up for bid including an All-Star weekend package in Las Vegas, a trip to see Duke play Gonzaga in New York, and a Napa Valley getaway.

After returning to the hotel, I stopped by the Hospitality Suite briefly and then headed to bed. Championship Sunday was tomorrow and I wanted to be ready.

Day 4 – Championship Sunday – Sunday July 30, 2006

I woke up at 7, had breakfast and headed over to Card Gym to warm up and get ready for the game. Our team ran through some plays and reviewed our scouting report.

Our first round game was a rematch against Team Bilas. Trailing most of the game, we again rallied at the end to win. Gary Munson made a critical steal and fed me for an old fashioned three point play. It was an exciting win for our team and we were looking forward to our next game.

Our second game was a rematch against Team Snyder. After starting our OK, Team Snyder pulled out to a big lead. We made a run at the end but it just wasn’t enough and we lost 36-29.

In the Championship game, Team Snyder took on Team Alarie. Bob Harris announced the game and the “virtual” Duke band pumped up the crowd. Led by Rich Grodin’s 22 points, Team Alarie won an exciting match up.

After the game, the K Academy Cup was presented to Team Alarie and the team celebrated while the traditional March Madness anthem “One Shinning Moment” played over the speakers.

Following the game, there was a lunch back at the Washington Duke. I said goodbye to my teammates and coaches and headed to the airport with my friend and fellow K Academy attendee Russell Newman.

At the airport Russell and I ran into Jay Williams. We had lunch with Jay before he hopped on a flight to continue his NBA comeback.

I want to thank the K Academy staff and Coaches for another incredible K Academy. Everyone went above and beyond to exceed my expectations yet again. The camp gets better every year. The fact that so many of the attendees come back again and again is a reflection of the staff’s commitment.

Thanks also to my team mates and coaches. I loved playing with you. Thank you for sharing your K Academy experience with me. I look forward to seeing everyone back at camp next July for my “Senior” season.

Interested in attending? Learn more about the K Academy or contact Rachel Curtis in the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund office (919) 613-7501) to reserve your spot.


No matter how successful you believe yourself to be, you can never feel as if you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle. There are always new and wonderful challenges out there, and part of maintaining success is knowing when you need to accept them.

- Coach K

When you care about someone or something, you show genuine concern for that person or thing, in good times or bad. When you care about one another and about your purpose, you are compelled to put your feelings into action. Care creates an atmosphere that breeds success and gives you the confidence to try again.

- Coach K
Collective Responsibility

We win and we lose together. Handling the responsibility for wins and losses together removes the burden from one individual’s shoulders and distributes it among each member of the team. That atmosphere is conducive to high-level performance and places you and your team in the position to be bold and unafraid, and if you should lose, you are not alone.

- Coach K

When you are winning, your commitment is never challenged. But loyalty and dedication during difficult times can be tough. When commitment doesn’t waver, that’s when you have the greatest chance of winning. You can never give up.

- Coach K

You can possess countless good qualities as an individual, but if you don”t have the courage to proceed, you may never see those qualities come into fruition. It takes courage to put what you believe to be best of you on the line, to test it, and to see how far it takes you. Courage means daring to do what you imagine.

- Coach K

Take care not to allow one aspect of your life to so consume you that you neglect the others. Balance can put things in perspective, can bring you joy even when you are down, and can allow you to be at your best in all aspects of your life.

- Coach K

Adversity can teach you more about yourself than any success, and overcoming an obstacle can sometimes feel even better than achieving an easy victory. Through adversity, you can discover things about your endurance, your ability to turn a negative into a positive, and your personal strength of heart.

- Coach K

Belief can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try. On a team or in a family, belief makes each individual stronger and also fortifies the group as a whole. The basis of belief is in individual relationships.

- Coach K

You have to adapt what you do based on who you are. In teaching, you must remember that no group or individual is the same as who you taught the day before, the year before, or the decade before. Your plan has to suit who you and your team are right now.

- Coach K

Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. Communication does not always occur naturally, and must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one. The most crucial element of communicating is telling the truth.

- Coach K
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