Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coach K Closing In On Knight and Wooden

The task is not an easy one, but if Duke can knock off Arizona and the winner of the UConn-Sand Diego State game over this weekend, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will earn his record-tying 902nd career victory while earning a trip back to the Final Four.

The total wins record belongs to Krzyzewski’s friend and mentor Bobby Knight and another coach you may have heard of, John Wooden, holds the record for 12 trips to the Final Four. 

If top-seeded Blue Devils (32-4) win the West Regional, Coach K will tie both Knight and Wooden.  West regional semifinals, and there’s a chance that by the time Duke returns home, Krzyzewski will have his record-tying 902nd career victory.

“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.

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.”

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