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Coach K scolds Crazies following Capel chant
11:56 PM ET
  • ESPN News Services

DURHAM, N.C. — Mike Krzyzewski was especially animated Tuesday night — in the direction of the Duke fans.

The Hall of Fame coach was angered by the Cameron Crazies, who directed a playful “Jeff Capel, sit with us” chant at the Pittsburgh coach — a former Blue Devils player and assistant coach.

Krzyzewski yelled at the fans to “Shut up!” and then walked across the court to scold them at the end of the first half, repeating emphatically, “He is one of us!”

After the game, a 79-67 Duke win, Krzyzewski explained he did not hear the chant clearly, which led to his reaction.

“I don’t know if I made a mistake on that, but I’ve never heard another coach’s name yelled out in the middle of the first half when we’re in a war with the team,” Krzyzewski told reporters. “I don’t know if they were saying, ‘Come sit with me.’

“We got a different look at what the hell was going on. I thought it was something personal. … I apologize to the students for that.”

But Krzyzewski was still miffed at the timing of the chant, while noting he’ll always defend his former player and assistant.

“You shouldn’t say that. … In the middle of the first half and an ACC game, this isn’t some cutesy little thing,” he said.

“I’m not going to go say, ‘Will you please tell me exactly what you’re doing? So it’s a mistake on my part, but I’d rather make the mistake and protect my guy. … Let’s think of a different cheer — like ‘Defense!'”

For his part, Capel said he didn’t know what the students were saying, but on social media later, he told Blue Devils not to change their ways.

Love you guys back!!! No offense taken from me! Keep SHOWING UP AND CHEERING FOR YOUR TEAM! They DESERVE IT! https://t.co/19BC707KjR

— Jeff Capel (@jeffcapel) January 29, 2020

The testy battle stood out as part of a somber evening, one that saw the No. 9 Blue Devils and Panthers honor Kobe Bryant during a pregame ceremony at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Players for both teams warmed up in T-shirts with a purple-and-gold No. 8 on the front and No. 24 on the back, the numbers Bryant wore with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California.

Krzyzewski coached Bryant when Team USA won Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

“It’s the last couple of days that have been really emotional, you know, Kobe was one of my players,” Krzyzewski said. “I coached him on three teams. He was my leader. We had special moments, private and public. He was amazing with my grandkids.

“It’s been bad. It’s been bad. I have been very emotional about it, not publicly. And for the other people involved, too — are you kidding me? Nine people. Horrific. So very tragic.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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