Duke Basketball: Power Ranking Mike Krzyzewski's Head Coaching Tree
You won't discuss college basketball's greatest coaches for very long before the name Mike Krzyzewski is brought up. Winning more games than any coach in Division I history speaks to the Duke icon's abilities in molding players into cohesive, disciplined teams.
If there's one blemish on Coach K's resume, however, it's in his training of other head coaches. The Krzyzewski coaching tree looks more like a sad, neglected shrub compared to the legacies of other famous coaches like Bob Knight, who gave Krzyzewski his own start in college basketball.
With Steve Wojciechowski getting his legs under him as the new head coach at Marquette, it's an interesting time to examine how Coach K's other former players and assistants have performed when placed in charge of their own programs.
Krzyzewski fans must be warned, however: It's not a terribly inspiring group.
13. Chuck Swenson
After six years next to Coach K at Duke, Swenson should have been well-prepared to lead a program like William and Mary. Instead, he was hopelessly overmatched in the Colonial Athletic Association, winning a mere 62 games in seven seasons. His only winning season was 14-13 in 1992-93, but he followed that up with a four-win campaign that sent him packing.
12. Neil Dougherty
Dougherty is the forgotten man on Coach K's list of proteges, because he played for Krzyzewski at Army, not Duke. That's him pictured above, because we know you didn't recognize him.
It was more than 20 years after Dougherty transferred out of West Point that he received his first head coaching gig at TCU. He won 21 games and reached the NIT quarterfinals in 2004-05 but only managed 54 wins in his other five seasons. He died while jogging in Indianapolis in 2011.
11. David Henderson
Henderson replaced another former Krzyzewski assistant, Mike Brey, at Delaware and won 20 games in his first season. The momentum he established, however, petered out quickly. Henderson won only 20 games in his final two seasons combined and was let go with an 85-93 record over six years.
10. Tim O'Toole
O'Toole was becoming a bit of a journeyman assistant when he joined Duke in 1995, and he was only in Durham for two seasons. He was hired as head coach at his alma mater Fairfield in 1998. Over eight seasons, O'Toole went 112-120, winning MAAC Coach of the Year honors in 2004. His only postseason appearance came in the 2003 NIT with an opening-round loss to Boston College.
9. Chris Collins
The former Duke point guard sat alongside Krzyzewski for 13 years before accepting the head coaching job at Northwestern in March 2013. Collins' record in his first season was a desultory 14-19, but his team did win games at Final Four participant Wisconsin and NIT champion Minnesota.
Cutting one's head coaching teeth at the Big Ten's historical doormat is an entirely different task than starting out in the MAAC or the America East.
8. Bobby Hurley
A two-time national champion when he played for Coach K, Hurley is another protege who has just completed his first season as a head coach. He steered the Buffalo Bulls to a 19-10 record, winning the MAC East division.
7. Mike Dement
Only on Duke's bench for the 1982-83 season, Dement still has more career victories than any Krzyzewski assistant except Mike Brey. Dement's 331 wins came between Cornell, SMU and a pair of stints at UNC Greensboro.
In his second year as a head coach, Dement won the Ivy League title and took Cornell to the 1988 NCAA tournament. He would never get back, although he did claim a Big South regular-season title with UNCG in 1994-95.
6. Bob Bender
As a player, Bender won a title with the undefeated 1976 Indiana Hoosiers and then played his remaining three seasons at Duke before Krzyzewski arrived. He spent six years as a Duke assistant before being hired at Illinois State.
Bender's first ISU team went to the NCAA tournament, and then two more won regular-season titles. At the University of Washington, he reached the 1998 Sweet 16, the school's first tournament bid in 12 years. Three straight seasons of 18 or more losses sealed his fate, however, and he's been an NBA assistant since UW let him go in 2002. His overall record stands at 175-200.
5. Quin Snyder
Quin Snyder was only 32 when he beat out the already-established John Calipari and the rapidly ascendant Bill Self for the head coaching position at Missouri. He had already spent a year as an assistant in the NBA, completed MBA and law degrees and been an assistant for six years at his alma mater.
At Duke, he helped mentor his point guard descendants Chris Collins, Jeff Capel and Steve Wojciechowski, making him one of the wider-spreading limbs on this coaching tree.
Faced with the unenviable task of replacing longtime Tigers boss Norm Stewart, all Snyder did was roll to NCAA tournaments in his first four seasons, producing only the third Elite Eight run in Mizzou history in 2002.
Immediately after that tournament, recruit Ricky Clemons arrived on campus, and although it's unfair to paint one player as emblematic of an entire program's disintegration, Clemons is more qualified than most to be so tarred. As a freshman, he was charged with felony domestic violence and injured himself in an ATV accident, the first signs that Rome was burning while Nero played his violin.
Snyder was dealing with his own issues, from giving Clemons clothing to multiple allegations of improper payments to players to a public divorce, and those were just the things that anyone could document. Snyder was drummed out with a 128-96 record, including 5-4 in the NCAA tournament.
After all that, Snyder essentially went underground for a while, taking his talents to the NBA Development League's Austin Toros, which is where ESPN contributor Jeff Pearlman found him in 2008. He's now found his way out of the wilderness and to the mountaintop, having recently been hired as head coach of the Utah Jazz.
4. Johnny Dawkins
Despite not making the NCAA tournament in his first five years as Stanford's head coach, ex-Duke point guard Johnny Dawkins survived for a sixth. In that sixth year, the pieces finally came together for a Sweet 16 run; as a No. 10 seed, Stanford ousting a second-seeded Kansas team with the NBA's No. 1 draft pick on its roster.
Someone with Dawkins' background may be uniquely qualified to lead Stanford, a school that, like Duke, doesn't often lose sight of its academic mission as it searches for winning basketball players. Stanford has enjoyed highly unusual—for this day and age, at least—continuity over Dawkins' tenure, as only one player has transferred out due to homesickness or the search for more playing time.
Dawkins hasn't drawn any one-and-done talents like Austin Rivers or Jabari Parker to Palo Alto, but the veteran-laden Cardinal didn't lose in the round of 64 to Mercer, either.
Stanford couldn't quite capitalize on bringing back most of the 2012 NIT championship team, and the 2014-15 team will also face questions without post duo Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis. The Pac-12 may be more open behind Arizona this season, so a Cardinal return to the tournament is not at all out of the question.
3. Jeff Capel
Jeff Capel III took a kind of backwards route onto Mike Krzyzewski's bench. He played at Duke and then set out to make his coaching bones elsewhere. It only took a year at Old Dominion and one at Virginia Commonwealth before Capel was handed the Rams' head coaching position.
He went an impressive 79-41 at VCU, kick-starting the program's rise as a mid-major powerhouse. His 2003-04 squad won the Colonial regular-season and tournament titles and then came within a point of bouncing fourth-seeded Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament.
Oklahoma came calling in 2006, and Capel arrived just in time to inherit sanctions brought on by predecessor Kelvin Sampson's recruiting violations. Still, Capel was able to land a freakishly athletic recruit named Blake Griffin, who led the Sooners on a run to the 2009 Elite Eight.
Three other McDonald's All-Americans would end up in Norman, but the team still deflated overnight once Griffin left for the NBA. The coach who won 30 games in the Elite Eight season only won 27 more over the next two, and the university ate a hefty buyout to fire him with five years left on a seven-year extension that he had signed after the 2009 tournament.
Capel was only unemployed for two months before Coach K offered him an assistant's position, where he's remained ever since. Capel still sports an impressive .614 winning percentage (175-110) between his two head coaching gigs, so it's likely that he'll draw more offers to sit in other schools' big chairs.
2. Tommy Amaker
Tommy Amaker had a long wait between NCAA tournament trips. After making the Sweet 16 at Seton Hall in 2000, he surely had visions of building a powerhouse at Michigan when he arrived there in 2001. With that program still in the NCAA's doghouse following the wide-ranging Ed Martin scandal, the sledding was much tougher than Amaker may have anticipated.
Amaker won 22 or more games three times at UM, but all three seasons saw his team relegated to the NIT. He made the most of the experiences, winning the championship in 2004 and finishing second in 2006, but the athletic department was tired of waiting to make the tournament that mattered. Amaker was canned in March 2007.
When he took the job at Harvard, it was expected that he would fade into the shadows, since the Ivy League very rarely turned out nationally relevant programs. The Crimson were especially undistinguished, having never won an Ivy League title and making only one NCAA tournament—in 1946.
Harvard has certainly rectified both of those situations with a vengeance under Amaker. The Crimson tied Princeton for the 2010-11 regular-season title but lost the one-game playoff. Harvard has won the last three crowns in succession, attained the school's first-ever Associated Press ranking and claimed its first two NCAA tournament wins, beating New Mexico and Cincinnati in the past two years.
Amaker was praised for running a clean Michigan program after inheriting the stain of scandal, but he has run afoul of the NCAA for dodgy recruiting practices at Harvard. However, those violations occurred in 2010, and much of the grumbling about Amaker these days comes from Ivy League opponents and even some Harvard alumni concerned about the university's academic standards.
Still, there's no disputing that Amaker is recruiting a different class of player to the Ivy League, and until someone finds proof of wrongdoing, the Crimson will be a tough hurdle for any opponent to clear.
1. Mike Brey
Mike Brey's Notre Dame team struggled through a 15-17 inaugural season in the ACC—Brey's first losing campaign as the coach of the Irish—but he did accomplish something highly meaningful to a Mike Krzyzewski assistant: He beat the boss.
Coach K had whipped former assistants all 18 times he'd coached against them before Notre Dame opened its ACC ledger with a victory over the Blue Devils. Brey had said of Krzyzewski at the 2013 ACC media day, "He likes to eat his young," but Brey was the first spawn to give his mentor indigestion.
Brey tops nearly all the meaningful coaching charts for Krzyzewski's trainees. He has won 399 games over 19 years. Only Mike Dement was a head coach longer. Brey has 11 NCAA tournament bids, and while he's only won six games in those trips, that's still one more than second-place Quin Snyder.
At Brey's first job, he took Delaware to two straight NCAA tournaments, matching the number the program had accumulated over its first 56 years combined. He made an auspicious debut at Notre Dame, claiming the Big East's 2001 West Division title.
Before the shaky ACC debut, ND had won 20 or more games seven straight seasons under Brey. Entering his 15th season, he's by far the longest-tenured head coach in the state of Indiana, a distinction that's beginning to bear fruit in recruiting.
Notre Dame is still firmly a football school, but Brey's success has put the basketball program on a level it hasn't seen since the final days of Digger Phelps. And now he gets to antagonize Coach K every year.
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