Coach K And Duke Epitome Of Consistency
Coach K has 1-K!
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski won his one-thousandth game as a college mentor Sunday as his young Blue Devil squad rallied from a ten-point deficit with eight minutes remaining against St. John’s to take a 77-68 victory. In a pattern that has become indicative of Krzyzewski’s winning formula, Duke used strong defense, better shot selection, blockout rebounding, solid passing, and key shooting from both the field and free throw line, to go on a 23-5 run over the next seven minutes and ice the game with a minute left in the fray.
Krzyzewski, now in his thirty-sixth year in Durham, is now 927-249 at Duke after
compiling a 73-59 record at Army in five years (1975-1979). He passed his college coach at Army, Bob Knight, to become college basketball’s winningest coach on November 15, 2011, when he coached his 903rd win in Madison Square Garden over Michigan State. MSG supplied the site again Sunday for Coach K’s big one-k accomplishment.
Knight coached Krzyzewski at Army for three years (67-69, when freshman did not play varsity), gave him an assistant’s job at Indiana after his service commitment was fulfilled, and, no doubt, gave him the highest of recommendations when the Army post became vacant. Krzyzewski used his five year West Point stint, where he led the Cadets to one NIT appearance, to prepare himself for a big-school opportunity. And, boy, has he taken advantage of the job offer that came from Duke in 1980.
He has led the Blue Devils to four national championships (’92,’93, 2001’, 2010), eleven Final Fours, twelve Atlanta Coast Conference regular season championships, thirteen ACC tournament titles, and has a record 82 victories in NCAA tournament games. His teams are the epitome of consistency, always playing solidly and showing the true meaning of teamwork. As talented as some of his athletes have been during his tenure, you never see any of his players showboating, or making a mockery of the game they play so well.
Coach K’s teams can be beaten, but it will not be because they are not prepared, that he himself was outcoached, or that any player who took the court for Duke was
outhustled. They lose only because their athletic ability did not measure up, or the team had a cold-shooting performance. It does not happen often, and makes Coach K’s record that much more impressive because rivals treat Duke matchups as the highlight of their season.
After taking over for Coach Bill Foster in 1980, Krzyzewski took a few lumps (going 10-17 and 11-17 in his second and third seasons) before getting his type of players in place. Once guys like Danny Ferry, Jay Bilas, Johnny Dawkins, and Tommy Amaker laid the foundation, the Bobby Hurleys, Grant Hills and Christian Laettners led Duke to its first two national championships in consecutive seasons, 1992 and 1993. Other stars like Shane Battier, Jason Williams, and Carlos Boozer followed, and fans enjoyed the solid play exhibited by each of his squads as they watched the players mature and progress through their eligibility.
Coach K has shown his flexibility by adapting to the “one and done” recruiting that came into vogue in the past decade in order to stay competitive. Surely, he would have loved to have had Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, and Jabari Parker longer, but the college basketball landscape has changed. If the John Caliparis, the Roy Williams, and the Bill Selfs of college basketball were going to go that direction, then Krzyzewski would have to hit the recruiting trail seeking top level talent with only one year reservations in Durham. It had to be a tough adjustment, particularly when one recalls that his last championship team in 2010 featured a senior Jon Scheyer and junior Kyle Singler, who came back for his senior season. Scheyer and Singler both matured during their four-year careers and kept getting better with top notch coaching. They stayed, and brought the Blue Devils their fourth national championship.
Coach K was an assistant coach for the 1992 Dream Team that was put together for the Olympics, and the head coach of the national teams that won the 2008 and 2012 gold
medals at the Summer Olympics. He has earned the respect of players and coaches alike, as his program has avoided any hint of impropriety, and his players and assistant coaches handle themselves as true gentlemen. In fact, twelve of Krzyzewski’s former players or coaches are coaching or have coached at major colleges in the country. Tommy Amaker, Harvard; Johnny Dawkins, Stanford; Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette; Chris Collins, Northwestern; Mike Brey, Notre Dame; Bobby Hurley, Buffalo, among them.
Another sign of the respect Krzyzewski has earned in his time coaching is the fact that many ex-professional players and coaches have sent their sons to Duke. Chris Collins, son of Doug Collins; Austin Rivers, son of Doc Rivers; Michael Dunleavy Jr., son of Mike Dunleavy; and Seth Curry, son of Dell Curry. Throw in professional footballer Calvin Hill, who sent his son Grant to star for Coach K, and it is evident Krzyzewski is not only successful, but respected throughout the sporting world for his leadership and teaching ability.
Sunday’s big win had a distinctive Krzyzewski mark on it. Down 61-51, Coach K gathered the players, made the necessary tactical adjustments, barked some instructions, and Duke was away on their game clinching run. Make no mistake, Coach K is amicable and a true sportsman as he is always the first to give a handshake or a pat on the chest to opposing players after a win or loss. However, a fire burns deep within this competitive roundball coach. His teams will always be fundamentally sound, always hustle, and Duke will not be outcoached, not while he is occupying the Blue Devils bench.
While this writer has definitely enjoyed Coach K’s exploits, and watching his teams over the past thirty-six years, I first became a fan of Duke basketball when I watched the Blue Devils play Kentucky in the 1963 Sugar Bowl basketball tournament at the old Loyola Fieldhouse. Coach Vic Bubas was in his fourth year with the team and he had Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins, one of my favorite college players at that time. Kentucky had Louisianian Charles “Cotton” Nash as their All-American, and although Adolph Rupp’s team beat Duke that game, I was hooked.
Bubas put Duke basketball on the map. His teams finished in the Top Ten in seven of his ten seasons, and he led the team to the Final Four in ’63, ‘64’, and ’66. He recruited Heyman (who would be a No. 1 pro pick) out of New York, and stole the acrobatic, hot-shooting Mullins from Lexington, Kentucky.
After Bubas departed Duke, North Carolina State (1974 NCAA champ) and North Carolina put the Blue Devils and the usually strong Wake Forest Deacons in the
background for a few years. Foster arrived in Durham and began recruiting at least one star player a year in building the nucleus of what turned out to be the next Duke team to go to a Final Four, the 1978 Blue Devils. That team, led by Jim Spanarkel, Mike Gminski, and Gene Banks, lost to Kentucky for the championship, but Foster had shown that Duke could win, and win impressively. When Foster moved on to take the South Carolina opening two years later, Krzyzewski called movers for the New York to North Carolina shipment of his possessions to what has become his permanent hometown.
The court where the Blue Devils play in venerable Cameron Indoor Stadium has been named the “Coach K Court”, and the grassy area where Duke students camp out for days to get tickets for games is affectionately called “Krzyzewskiville”. It makes one wonder how long Coach K can keep up the pace and extend this period of basketball excellence for the Blue Devils. And what will be the next honor for this legendary coach?Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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