Why Mike Krzyzewski's Win Total Will Never Be TouchedJanuary 25, 2015
First to 1,000.
Mike Krzyzewski arrived at the milestone Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden as his No. 5-ranked Duke Blue Devils toppled St. John's, 77-68. He's the first men's Division I college basketball coach ever to win 1,000 games, which is an accomplishment that should go smack dab at the top of his biography.
John Wooden won 10 titles at UCLA, and that's something that will never be touched. Next season or the year after that, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim—with 962 wins and counting—will likely join his buddy in the 1K club, but it'll be years before anyone joins them or catches Krzyzewski.
"I won't outlast him," Boeheim said two weeks ago on the ACC conference call. "He's going to coach forever. He's going to coach for a long time. I have no expectations of ever catching him."
Nor should anyone else.
Krzyzewski will be 68 next month, and he's lasted longer than most coaches. But let's imagine a world where every coach would last as long as Coach K. Where they don't lose their touch or their edge.
Now let's take the most accomplished coaches in the game and estimate what their win total would be through the age of 68.
To do so, I averaged each coach's win total over the last five years, then took that average and added where he would be when he reached Coach K's age.
How many—in this theoretical world—topped 1,000?
Bill Self, Billy Donovan and Shaka Smart.
|Who Could Catch K?|
|Age||Wins||5-year avg.||When he's 68|
Smart is only 37, and 1,000 is so far away it's not even worth considering the possibility. Yes, he has won with ridiculous consistency to start his career, but he's done it in the Colonial Athletic Association and Atlantic 10.
Someday, Smart will likely move on to a bigger school in a big-boy conference. Will he be able to win with "Havoc" there? Will he be able to change with the times? Will he be able to stick it out for another 30 years?
Donovan has had amazing consistency, but not Coach K consistency. There's a decent chance the Gators miss the NCAA tournament this season. That would mark the third time in the last eight years Donovan didn't make the tourney. Krzyzewski has taken Duke to 30 of the last 31 NCAA tournaments. Over that timespan, he's won 81.5 percent of his games.
Self may have the most realistic shot at getting there, but he has no desire to stick around and catch Coach K, per The Kansas City Star's Dennis Dodd.
"I don't think that I’ll want to coach near that long," Self told Dodd.
Consistency plus longevity is what it takes, and so many great coaches have come and gone—and will come and go—without sniffing 1,000.
In the NBA, only eight coaches have gotten there, and they play 82 games a season.
The chase can be exhausting.
Heck, it's unbelievable that Krzyzewski has made it this long.
In Coach K's first eight seasons as a head coach, he had four losing seasons. It took him nine years to reach an NCAA tournament.
Recruiting has changed. His best players these days are gone before they can legally drink.
Yet somehow, the hairs on his head stay brown, and the game has never passed him by.
Take two weeks ago, when his team was in a rut and couldn't seem to guard anyone. Krzyzewski, who won 997 games playing almost nothing but man-to-man, had his guys dust off a zone.
It wasn't about getting to 1,000, and it never has been.
"It'll be a heck of a thing when and if it's done, but it's not a championship," Krzyzewski said two weeks ago when he was still three wins short. "I'd rather deal in the moment and not in a 40-year moment, because in order to win that many games, it's taken 40 years. That's a long time."
The championships, he says, are what he desires.
And the championships helped put him on the coaches' Mount Rushmore. He currently sits at four titles, tied with Adolph Rupp for second all-time behind Wooden.
Those are career-defining numbers, but they don't define him.
It's the longevity.
So whether he ends up with five or six or never surpasses four titles, that number should go on his tombstone one day.
Right under "first to 1,000."
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.