The quest to overtake Bobby Knight atop the list as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history is over for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and the hype machine known as ESPN.
The all-sports channel was fortunate to have Coach K go for the magical victory in Madison Square Garden in front of his mentor in a regularly scheduled televised contest against Michigan State. It wouldn’t have been prudent to move the Duke-Davidson contest from ESPNU on Friday to the big channel if the Blue Devils would have stubbed their toes against the Spartans.
Instead, everything worked out perfectly like the folks in Bristol, Conn. wanted. They got win No. 903, played it up liked they needed and now they can wait on the next “big” story. Whatever that may turn out to be this week.
I applaud Krzyzewski for breaking the record because while Coach K does have his detractors, Knight is a better basketball coach than a human being. Trust me, I have seen him up close and in person.
In today’s athletic landscape, it is difficult to imagine a coach staying at a school for 32 years. Krzyzewski has flirted with the NBA on a handful of occasions, but always remained in Durham. And now at the age of 64, it will be hard to see Krzyzewski doing anything but retiring as the coach of the Blue Devils.
But when that occurs is anyone’s best guess.
Unlike his brethren in the collegiate football coaching ranks like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, Krzyzewski is still at the top of the profession. He still pulls in top recruiting classes year after year and continues to hone his craft like he is in his 30s. When he was serving as the U.S. Olympic team coach in 2008, Coach K picked the brain of then Phoenix Suns coach Mike D’Antoni to learn his fast-paced style of play.
Plus, Krzyzewski still seems to enjoy the daily grind of preparing his players for the next battle, the next conquest just like he was a general in the army.
And now that win No. 903 is in the books, Coach K and the rest of college basketball fans can focus on watching which team will make its way through the marathon known as the regular season and be crowned the next national champion.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org