Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats strongly disagrees with the comments Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made this week about playing amid the coronavirus pandemic, and Oats does not think it is a coincidence that Coach K shared his opinion after a loss.
After No. 10 Duke lost to Illinois by a score of 83-68 on Tuesday, Coach K called on the NCAA to reconsider whether continuing with the season is a good idea.
“I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we’re at,” Krzyzewski told reporters, via ESPN’s Alex Scarborough.
Coach K cited the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country and said he feels the plan the NCAA has in place for the 2020-21 season is sloppy. He accused the organization of “plowing through” the schedule with a goal of playing as many games as possible. The five-time national champion indicated he believes reassessing the situation after a vaccine is distributed might be best.
Oats was asked on Thursday if he agrees with Coach K. He said he thinks Coach K would have a different opinion if 2-2 Duke hadn’t lost two nonconference games already.
“Do you think if Coach K hadn’t lost the two nonconference games at home he’d still be saying that?” Oats asked.
Oats then said he thinks there would be “a whole lot more problems if we weren’t playing games.” You can hear his full remarks below:
"We 100% should be playing basketball." pic.twitter.com/QoHbML9Lwu
— Roger Hoover (@Roger_Hoover) December 10, 2020
“I’ve got three daughters. They need to be in school,” Oats continued. “Humans aren’t made to sit alone in isolation for weeks and weeks on end. We’ve gotta be careful with how we do life, but you’ve still gotta do life. A huge part of life for all these guys I’m coaching is being in the gym playing basketball. I think their mental health is in a much better spot playing basketball.”
In addition to losing to Illinois, Duke also lost to No. 8 Michigan State earlier in the year.
The NCAA has given no indication that the season will be canceled or put on hold. As of now, there are plans in place to hold the NCAA Tournament in a central location.