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Please still be my coach: Coach K touched by student's e-mail

Posted: Wednesday, July 07, 2004

DURHAM, N.C. Andrew Humphries was distraught when he heard Mike Krzyzewski might leave Duke to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Duke student, a Blue Devils fan since he was a kid, felt helpless. But he knew he had to try something to help persuade the Hall of Fame coach to stay.

So he did what any die-hard basketball fan with a connection to the Internet would do he sent Krzyzewski an e-mail, asking him, ''Please still be my coach.''

It was impressive enough that Krzyzewski singled out Humphries when the coach held a news conference Monday to announce he was staying with the Blue Devils.

For Humphries, 19, an act of desperation turned into the thrill of his life.

''In the tiniest way, I was able to become a part of that history and lore that is Duke basketball,'' Humphries said Tuesday. ''I'm not going into the record books or anything, but somewhere in there, my name is in the mix of things that happened in Duke basketball. So it's really special in that way.

''It's as good as it's ever gotten, outside of Duke winning national championships.''

In the e-mail sent last Thursday night, Humphries, a junior biology major who grew up in Waynesboro, Va., recounted playing basketball in his driveway as a kid, pretending he was hitting shots to win the national championship for Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.

Eventually, he realized that he would not play for the Blue Devils. But once he came to Duke, Humphries began camping out at ''Krzyzewskiville'' to attend games at Cameron Indoor Stadium as one of the ''Cameron Crazies.''

Even though he doesn't score points or grab rebounds, Humphries wrote, he feels he is part of the Blue Devils basketball family.

''I got to Duke. And discovered that, yes, I am going to play for Coach K,'' Humphries wrote. ''I am going to be his sixth man.

''We get to Duke and we realize you are our coach. Not just the coach of our team, but you are also our coach, because you believe that we give you something no one else can and we know that you give us something that no one ever could.''

Humphries closed the e-mail with his plea, ''Please still be my coach.''

Krzyzewski said the e-mail one of many he received while considering the Lakers' offer brought him to tears and reinforced the bond he feels with the school he had led to three national championships in his 24-year tenure.

''That's the type of relationship that has made this place just different, where it's not just been our team. It's been OUR team, with everybody involved,'' he said Monday. ''And hopefully we can keep that going.

''If Andrew's listening, thanks a lot. You never know what's read.''

Krzyzewski was reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $40 million by the Lakers to become their coach. He declined after spending the weekend thinking it over.

Humphries said Krzyzewski's wife, Mickie, left a message on his cell phone thanking him for the e-mail Monday morning. She invited him to the news conference, but he was unable to attend; he was taking summer classes at the university's marine laboratory in coastal Beaufort.

''She said the e-mail really meant a lot to her and her husband,'' Humphries said. ''When Mrs. Krzyzewski called, I got goose bumps. I was tearing up a bit. It was unbelievable. When I heard I was mentioned at the press conference, it was the same thing.''

The comment made Humphries an instant local celebrity. He drove back to Durham late Monday for an interview with ESPN's ''SportsCenter'' at Cameron. He also was mentioned in local newspapers and TV reports.

''When someone's afraid, they do something to make themselves feel a little empowered,'' Humphries said. ''And it ended up being so much more than that.''



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