Alabama coach Nate Oats seemed to question Mike Krzyzewski's motives after the Duke coach called for a reassessment about playing college basketball during a pandemic, openly wondering whether the comments were triggered by a pair of losses for the No. 10 Blue Devils.
"Do you think if Coach K hadn't lost his two nonconference games at home that he would still be saying that?" Oats said at a news conference Thursday, adding, "We 100 percent should be playing basketball."
Following his team's 83-68 loss to No. 6 Illinois on Tuesday, Duke's second nonconference home loss this season, Krzyzewski urged college basketball officials to "reassess" the state of the sport following a series of cancellations and postponements, including a highly anticipated matchup between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Duke's loss to Illinois was the team's largest nonconference home loss under Krzyzewski. Losses to Michigan State and Illinois this season have doubled the total nonconference home losses Duke has had over the past 20 years.
Krzyzewski has questioned the decisions by NCAA officials, including senior vice president of men's basketball Dan Gavitt, in recent months. He previously said the NCAA should be open to moving the tournament back, months after requesting an all-inclusive postseason with every team in the country invited. Overall, his message has centered on criticism of the leadership governing the sport in a pandemic.
"I would just like for the safety, the mental health and the physical health of our players and staff to assess where we're at," Krzyzewski said Tuesday. "In our country today, you have 2,000 deaths a day. You have 200,000 cases, a million and a half last week. You have people saying that the next six weeks are going to be the worst. To me, it's already pretty bad.
"On the other side of it, there are these vaccines that are coming out. People are saying that by the end of the month 20 million vaccine shots will be given. In February, another 100 million. Well, should we not reassess that and see what would be best?"
The only power the NCAA has, at this point in the season, is to make changes to the format and timing of the postseason tournament.
NCAA officials recently announced plans to keep the tournament in March and host all 68 teams in one city -- possibly Indianapolis -- at a variety of venues.