College basketball has started once again, and yet again Duke finds itself at the top of the heap. The Blue Devils are No. 1 in both polls and are heavy, heavy favorites to reach their 33rd consecutive NCAA Tournament under Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has won five national titles, reached 12 Final Fours and won 13 ACC tournaments.
And, yeah, it's easy to do that when your roster is stacked with NBA talent, but to not have one drop off when the roster changes over so dramatically every year? That's culture.
How does Coach K teach culture? Constant reinforcement. And then constant reinforcement on top of that constant reinforcement.
"Our basketball program’s culture is being taught every day," Coach K told GoDuke magazine. "Mainly it’s been taught by the upperclassmen, who tell the guys 'This is the way it is.' They show them by how they act, how they work. And then we (as coaches) try to show them. Talk to them. Former players come by to speak to them. Sometimes (NBA) guys will work out here and take time to be with them, text them. These guys communicate a lot with our former players, hearing from a number of different voices what the program means and what the program stands for. We show them videos. And our past is exhibited in our locker room, on the court, in the hallways. Sometimes, take the time to look at those things and feel like 'I want to be a part of that.' But trying to teach culture is huge, because you want them to own it and you want them to fight for it. You want it to be theirs, not just now but forever. So you are always working on it."