On Sunday, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his 1000th career victory becoming the first men’s coach in NCAA Division I to achieve that milestone. His No. 5 Blue Devils used a second half surge to defeat St. Johns 77-68 at Madison Square Garden.
After the game, legendary college basketball coaching peers talked about Coach K’s feat and his place in college basketball history.
“Excellence is not by accident; it’s by design,” said former Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. “That’s showing up every day as a coach.”
During his Hall of Fame career, Calhoun earned 866 career victories.
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“(Longevity and being at the same school) go hand-in-hand to some degree,” Calhoun said. “What it allows you to do is become so integrated with the culture. The university becomes part of you. When I think of Mike, I think of Duke. I think a lot of people thought of me being here 26 years, me being UConn. They associate the two, and you do, too. It allows you to keep building. I never through I’d leave here, to put it simply. I never thought I would. I think Mike feels the same way.
“No one ever asked, or at least they haven’t for many years, how much longer Mike Krzyzewski was going to be at Duke.”
“You can be flippant and half in jest, and say, ‘Great bosses and great players.’,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams who has 738 career victories. “And there are great bosses and very good players,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who has 739 career victories. “There is some truth to that, but that belittles the accomplishment to me, and I don’t want to do that. What it is, is a tremendous ability to get people to focus on a common goal, and every three, four, five or 10 years, that group of people changes drastically because the culture changes. Your job is to again get 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds to focus and make sacrifices toward a common goal that is a team-oriented goal.
“When you do it over such a long period of time, you have to change quite a bit. You don’t have to change your core beliefs, but you have to change with the times. … To me, longevity means that person, like Mike Krzyzewski for example, has been able to withstand so many changes in his entire world.”
“Old guys like us, we never change,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim who is on Coach K’s heels with 962 career wins. “The thing that’s never changed is (Krzyzewski) is very flexible.”
Boeheim, who has worked with Mike Krzyzewski with USA Basketball, explained just exactly how flexible Krzyzewski is.
“He’ll do what is necessary,” said Boeheim. “(Zone) hasn’t been what is necessary for him, yet this year it’s been very helpful for him. I think it shows one of the characteristics he has, that is underrated and people don’t talk about. He’s very flexible, and he’ll listen to other people and other ideas. He’s very open to that.”
“Every decade his teams have been at the top,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari who has 574 career wins. “Every game he plays is someone’s Super Bowl. Every one rooting against Duke… and he still gets it done.”