The numbers are absolutely mind-boggling:
2 national championships
3 Final Fours
43 wins in the NCAA tournament
8 ACC regular season titles
10 ACC tournament titles
A 75-1 record in international competition and 2 Olympic golds
5 National Coach of the Year Awards
6 National Players of the Year
27 All Americans
Those are the accomplishments of Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s … since current Blue Devils point guard Tyus Jones was born in May, 1996.
Coach K’s post-Jones resume would rank him 40th on the all-time coaching wins list, with more victories than Gene Keady, Bill Self, Tubby Smith, Billy Donovan, Rick Majerus and Lou Carnesecca.
In the 15 years he spent at Duke, as well as a brief stint at Army in the B.T. (before Tyus) era, Krzyzewski managed 349 wins (more than Jim Valvano, George Raveling, Tommy Amaker, Mark Turgeon and Joe B. Hall) and another pair of NCAA titles.
Those are two pretty-good careers. Add them together, and it represents a coaching beacon for whom the term “legend” seems insufficient.
For much of win 1,000, it appeared that Coach K and the Blue Devils would need to wait another few days to reach four figures. Duke trailed by double digits in the second half before mounting a furious comeback.
That should come as no surprise. Coach K’s teams thrive under pressure. In March, 1990—more than six years before Jones was born—Duke lost to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament, denying Krzyzewski his 300th career win. He won it in his next attempt, a week later to open an NCAA Tournament that saw Duke reach the championship game.
That was the last time a Coach K team lost in a quest to earn him a milestone win. Duke won Krzyzewski’s 400th, 500th, 600th, 700th, 800th, 900th, record breaking 903rd, and 1000th in its first attempt. All but one—a 82-54 walkover of Toledo for K’s 700th—were tight games. 800 was an 87-86 win over NC State. 500 and 600 were two-point affairs, 400 a 3-point game.
Two of the landmark wins were over arch rival North Carolina, including one in the ACC tournament final. One was in the NCAA tournament. All were tight wins on big stages, requiring discipline and toughness, Coach K trademarks all.
The numbers can’t possibly tell the whole story, but the margin by which Krzyzewski has outdistanced his colleagues is sobering. Jim Boeheim is two years older, but he’d need to stick around an extra year and post an undefeated season to catch Krzyzewski.
Roy Williams could win three straight NCAA titles, and he’d still be one win shy of Krzyzewski’s record 82 NCAA wins. Boeheim would need to win five straight to catch him.
“We don’t pay any attention to that,” senior point guard Quinn Cook said of win 1,000. “He’s always setting some record. It’s always something with him.”
In honor of Coach K reaching four figures, here are four figures that help to illustrate his dominance over the last three decades:
Figure 1: 4 wins
The University of Miami needs four wins to reach 500 wins since the 1980-81 season, or half of Coach K’s total. Miami didn’t even have an intercollegiate basketball program when Krzyzewski took over at Duke.
Figure 2: 66
The other 14 current ACC schools have had 66 coaches during the time that Coach K has been at Duke. Virginia Tech is on its eighth coach over that span, most of any team. Other than Jim Boeheim, who has won 848 games over that span, and Dean Smith, who won 472 during that period, no other coach has won more than half as many games as Coach K’s 927 wins at Duke.
Figure 3: 236
Coach K has won 236 games at Duke in the month of January. That’s more wins than Wake Forest’s Danny Manning (47), Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams (161), Virginia’s Tony Bennett (194) and Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory (224) have in their entire career. It’s also more than NC State’s Mark Gottfried (83), Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton (229), Clemson’s Brad Brownell (85), Boston College’s Jim Christian (9) and Miami’s Jim Larranaga (80) have at their current schools.
Figure 4: 23 and a half years
Since 1980-81, Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of 471 AP polls. The AP releases one for each of the 20 weeks of the basketball season, meaning that Duke has been in the top 10 for 23 and a half years out of the 34 years that Krzyzewski has been at Duke.