Krzyzewski close to making history
The top-seeded Blue Devils (32-4) left for Anaheim, Calif., on Tuesday for the West regional semifinals, and there’s a chance that by the time Duke returns home, Krzyzewski will have his record-tying 902nd career victory.
Wins over Arizona on Thursday night and the Connecticut-San Diego State winner Saturday would move Krzyzewski into a tie atop the all-time wins list for Division I men’s coaches with Bob Knight, his mentor and coach at Army in the late 1960s.
It also would clinch his 12th career trip to the Final Four—matching the mark held by John Wooden.
“There will be a lot of guys who will win 900 games eventually,” Krzyzewski said. “But to be the first two, and it be the coach and his player to do it, is ... something very unique, and that’s the type of relationship and friendship I’ve had with Coach Knight. I’m glad I can share a moment, that moment with him. I’ve shared ... really good ones with him.”
A victory in the Final Four not only would push Krzyzewski into first place by himself, it would put the reigning national champions back in the title game.
“It says a lot about him, his commitment to our game, his commitment to his kids and to the program,” said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, one of Krzyzewski’s early star players who later spent 11 years as one of his most trusted assistants.
“That will always stand out to me, someone who has dedicated his life to doing what he’s doing,” Dawkins added.
The milestones certainly have piled up during the past 36 years as Krzyzewski compiled a 900-283 career record at Army and Duke with four national championships with the Blue Devils.
“It’s mind-boggling. I thought it was a heck of an accomplishment to coach 800, much less win 900,” North Carolina coach and Tobacco Road rival Roy Williams said. “It’s off the charts.”
Krzyzewski credits part of his success to being a former point guard for Knight.
During the three seasons Krzyzewski earned varsity letters while playing for Knight at Army, the Black Knights went 51-23.
Krzyzewski was the team captain of the 1968-69 squad that went 18-10 and reached a second straight NIT.
“I feel like it’s amazing that a coach and his point guard can be the first two coaches in the history of (the men’s) game to win 900, and that it says something about the guy who has 902 and it also says something about the United States Military Academy,” Krzyzewski said.
He also has said that Knight’s win total should be higher because he should still be at Indiana, where “he’d have probably 1,100 wins.”
Then again, the 64-year-old Krzyzewski certainly has shown no signs of slowing down. Reaching 1,000 wins — and beyond — remains a realistic possibility.
He sure still knows how to draw a crowd — even when no one expects it.
As the Blue Devils boarded their bus to the airport Tuesday afternoon, members of the Ohio University baseball team lined a street outside Cameron Indoor Stadium a few hours before that evening’s game against Duke. The Bobcats snapped photos and video of the coach with their cellphones and cheered Krzyzewski as he shook hands with a few of their players.
“I hope he does (stick around for 1,000 wins), not because of a certain number but because of what he means to our game,” Dawkins said. “I think he’s been such a great representative and role model for basketball that you know the game is in great shape and in great hands with a man like that involved with it. I think for everybody who likes to give back to the game, he’s been a tremendous role model and leader.”
AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in Palo Alto, Calif., and Greg Beacham in Los Angeles; and AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Chapel Hill, N.C., contributed to this report.