Very detailed insight into what it takes to be a student manager for the Duke Men’s Basketball team.
PITTSBURGH — Back and to the left. Back and to the left.
The Duke basketball manager charged with carrying Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s clipboard during games has these words planted in his brain, because he must always be in the exact same spot relative to the team’s esteemed leader during timeouts and other stoppages in play. He must be just behind the Hall of Fame coach and slightly to his left so that if Krzyzewski wants the clipboard to draw up a play, he can obtain it with a minimum of thought and a maximum of efficiency.
“You always have to make sure the board and marker are ready — uncapped, in the right direction, holding the board out exactly,” Zack Spiera, a senior and this season’s “clipboard guy,” said.
It’s the way things are done at Duke: the Coach K way, the right way.
Most college basketball teams have student managers. They field rebounds during warm-ups and provide towels during timeouts. But at few programs is being a manager taken quite so seriously as at Duke, where everything related to basketball is taken very seriously. In Krzyzewski’s 38 seasons, the Blue Devils, who play Rhode Island in the second round of the N.C.A.A. tournament here on Saturday, have made 12 Final Fours and won five national championships. They carry themselves as though these accomplishments are always top-of-mind. That extends to the managers’ ethos, which is so … Duke.
Many of the Duke managers’ tasks are typical: rebounding during practices; providing towels and Gatorade during games; cleaning up afterward. They will rebound for any player who wants it, at all hours. They text players to remind them about practices; they fetch them if they are in danger of being late.
Managers begin as freshmen by signing up at the annual activities fair on Duke’s East Campus. There has not been a female manager for several years, and a few months ago, Duke’s student newspaper reported that one applicant had complained, citing another female applicant’s belief that women were held to a higher standard. David Bradley, Duke’s director of basketball operations, disputed this, saying, “We’d love to have anyone.”
Read the entire article at NYTimes.com.