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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Jeff Capel finds his place at Duke

By C.L. Brown

DURHAM, N.C. -- When Jeff Capel contemplated his next step after being fired from Oklahoma in 2011, Dick Vitale came to mind before Mike Krzyzewski.

The former Duke point guard had been a head coach for nine seasons, including his first job at VCU from 2002 to 2006. He didn't really think returning to the sidelines as an assistant was an option.

"My plan when I was fired -- as I kind of picked myself up from that -- was to do TV," Capel said. "I was going to maybe take a year off and try to break into TV and to spend some time going to other practices to watch other people."

That is until his former coach called and presented a chance to return to Duke. Krzyzewski restructured his staff to add Capel as an assistant coach. It was the first time since Pete Gaudet was on staff in the mid-1990s that Krzyzewski has had a former head coach on his staff.

It's been almost as long since someone who didn't play for Krzyzewski was one of his three assistant coaches. Tim O'Toole was the last "outsider," serving as a restricted-earnings coach for the Blue Devils from 1995-97. (He's now an assistant coach on former Duke standout Johnny Dawkins' staff at Stanford.)

Even for those who played at Duke, it's a rare chance to land a job as an assistant. Steve Wojciechowski was on Krzyzewski's staff for 15 seasons before leaving in April to become the head coach at Marquette. Chris Collins stayed for 13 seasons before he left in 2013 to rebuild Northwestern.

"For me, a big thing was to get a chance to learn to see Duke differently from when I played," Capel said. "To learn from coach [Krzyzewski], to learn from Chris, to learn from Wojo, to see why our program here has been able to sustain success over a period of time. So Duke was the only place I would have done it."

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