Belichick and Coach K chat it up

November, 11, 2010
11/11/10
4:15
PM ET
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski went 1-on-1 on Wednesday, with Belichick serving as a guest on the "Basketball and Beyond with Coach K" Show on SIRIUS XM Radio.

It was a different type of interview, and those listening in got an inside glimpse of how two of the top coaches in their profession approach their jobs.

Krzyzewski opened the interview by asking Belichick about his primary influences, and Belichick spoke of time spent with his late father, Steve, and how that sparked his love for coaching. Belichick said the first practice he remembers attending was at North Carolina, and it was Frank McGuire's basketball team. "I guess it started when I was about 4," Belichick said.

Krzyzewski called himself a big fan of the Patriots, admiring how well they prepare consistently on a week to week basis. Krzyzewski then asked where Belichick's approach on preparation grew over time.

"In our sport, only playing once a week, it's so important to try to improve every single day and take advantage of all the practice opportunities. We've already had 75 practices this year but only eight regular-season games," Belichick said, before breaking down how the team prepares on a daily basis. "The big thing for me is to try to improve on a daily basis and have the team get better from September to October, from October to November, from November to December, and you know how hard that is when the team gets tired and you start grinding through the season, and you get bumps and bruises and there is a little bit of that day-to-day monotony. The excitement comes on Sunday, on game-day, but the challenge is to try to out-prepare your opponent during the week."

Belichick added that "the big thing is picking your players -- if you have guys that like football, that like to practice, that like to be around the game, that makes it a lot more fun for all of us."

Belichick talked about some of the characteristics that he seeks in players, and he focused first and foremost on mental toughness.

The two coaches then talked about the differences of coaching a smaller team (Krzyzewski has 12 players at Duke) vs. a larger team (Belichick has 53 players on the roster; 61 when including the practice squad). Belichick explained some of the techniques he uses to manage such a large roster (e.g. captains meetings, helping to filter the message to the rest of the team). Belichick also talked about why he prefers to have a smaller coaching staff.

"It's easier for me to communicate with a smaller group of coaches and get us all on the same page, rather than have 25 assistants and for us to all get on the same page, then get all the players on that same page," he said.

Along those lines, Belichick touched on developing younger coaches in a similar way to the team developing young players.

Belichick talked about balancing the personnel and coaching duties and the importance of having a "consistent philosophy." The current Patriots setup allows him to be in a position where he can "direct things the way I want to", but he still counts on those staffers for input and doing the bulk of the work.

"Their opinions carry a lot of weight with me as long as it's consistent with the overall direction of the team," Belichick said.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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