Basketball talent runs in Krzyzewski family

SHARE Basketball talent runs in Krzyzewski family
SHARE Basketball talent runs in Krzyzewski family

There’s no doubting Lynette Krzyzewski Kentgen was a fantastic basketball player for Guerin and she acquired plenty of accolades during her playing days.

She grew up on the north side of Chicago and used the athletic talent that had been passed down to her.

Her dad William, who died in December, was a high school football player. Her mom Patricia played a little bit of everything, including basketball and volleyball. 

But the thickest blood coursing through her veins is basketball. Her dad’s brother is legendary Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played at Weber and was captain of the Army men’s basketball team his senior season, 1968-69.

“I had a Duke shirt and people would ask why you’re a fan of Duke and I’d say ‘My uncle is Coach K,’ and they’d say ‘No he’s not,’ ” she said. “He’s well known for his successes, but for me, he’s my uncle and my support. He’s just Uncle Mike.”

Krzyzewski Kentgen graduated from the all-girls school in River Grove — now co-ed and called Guerin College Prep — in 1989 after starring on the varsity basketball team for all four seasons. She was all-conference in each is the school’s leading scorer with almost 1,900 career points and earned a full scholarship to play for St. Louis University.

Twenty-five years after graduating, Krzyzewski Kentgen will be inducted into the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Hall of Fame on Sunday during a banquet at Monastero’s in Chicago.

“In my playing days I never thought something like this could happen,” she said. “I thought the best that would ever happen is that they would retire my number, not something greater like being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s a pretty cool thing to know you made that contribution and people still recognize it.”

Krzyzewski Kentgen’s family had a basketball hoop in the alley behind their house and that attracted lots of boys in the neighborhood. It also helped jump-start her development as a basketball player.

“It was more of a neighborhood social thing but the boys were tough on me and that was probably a good thing,” she said. “It was always a joy to play against the boys. It sparked my competitive spirit.”

All that practice and a true love of the game gave the 5-foot-9 Krzyzewski Kentgen a big advantage when she enrolled at Guerin. As a freshman, she went to tryouts and made the varsity team with her sister, Cherisse Joshi, who was a senior at the time.

Krzyzewski Kentgen averaged 15 points as a freshman, and that number grew each season. In her senior year, she averaged 22 points.

“She was outstanding as a senior,” said Tina Lilly, who also played basketball at Guerin and graduated in 1991. “She pretty much ruled the court. She was always willing to help out the younger players and we felt the pressure of playing with Lynette. We all had to play up to her caliber.”

During her junior season, Krzyzewski Kentgen started getting offers from colleges. That’s where her famous uncle helped out.

“When I began getting recruited for college he was a good resource for me and my parents,” she said. “I would go to his summer camp at Duke every year and he wasn’t fearful of telling me what I still needed to work on. Here you are thinking you’re a good player and your uncle is telling you why you need to work on this and that. I appreciated it though.”

The transition to college was a smooth one. She worked her way up to a starting role at St. Louis and was a team captain as a junior and a senior. Unfortunately, she tore her ACL and missed most of her final season. She’s seventh in Billikens history for career 3-point shooting at 34.1 percent and led the team with 41 3-pointers as a sophomore and 33 as a junior.

Krzyzewski Kentgen went on to get her masters in speech pathology at Rush University. She lives in Des Plaines with her husband John and sons Matthew (14) and Danny (12). And she’s still hooping it up.

“I’m proud to say I’m the only true champion in the house,” she said. “I can still beat my boys, but I think that’s coming to a close.”

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