Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Popovich and Coach K reach elusive 1,000 wins

In the last month we have seen two historic coaches reach a milestone signifying a lifetime of hard work and dedication to the sport of basketball. Both Duke Coach Mike Kryzewski and San Antonio Spur’s coach Gregg Popovich reached 1,000 wins in their respective leagues, adding another accolade to the impeccable resumes each has put together in their careers.

In college basketball there is a fair amount of coaching movement depending on the level of the program. Coach K started his head coaching career in 1975 with the Army Black Knights, a team for which he played his college hoops. After five years at West Point Coach, K moved to Duke, and he has since had one of the most prestigious careers in the history of basketball. Even after being elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, Kryzewski still hasn’t rested on his laurels and has continued to keep Duke an elite program.

This year is no different as Duke is currently ranked fourth in the country as the season heads towards March, and the Blue Devils are positioning themselves for a deep tourney run. With all of this, Coach K continues to extend his lead as the all time winningest coach in college basketball history. Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is second at 964, so there is no letting up for Kryzewski as his mark of 1,004 is not anywhere near safe. The consistency of Duke has been their biggest asset, only missing the NCAA tourney once since their first appearance under coach K in 1984. Kryzewski has also been busy on the international level, coaching Team USA since 2006.

The only real comparison for Coach K at the NBA level right now would be the renowned Gregg Popovich. The surly coach of the Spurs hasn’t exactly loved dealing with the media during his success in San Antonio and has made some enemies in the league offices along they way, but his on-court successes are undeniable. Popovich recently clinched his 1,000th win with the Spurs against the Pacers. Popovich now trails only Jerry Sloan’s 1,221 wins with the Utah Jazz in most wins with a single franchise. What Popovich has been able to deliver that Sloan never did, though, is a championship pedigree. Pop has brought home the Larry O’Brien trophy five times to San Antonio reaching back to 98-99 season when Tim Duncan, the man who has taken the title of best Power Forward ever from Sloan’s Karl Malone, was just getting his start. Popovich has been so dominant during his NBA tenure that he owns a winning record over every other franchise, has only missed the playoffs once and has finished in the top two of his division ever since his second season.

Both Popovich and Kryzewski have taken interesting routes to their success. Kryzewski has been slow to adapt to the one-and-done style of recruiting that has swept elite college basketball as of late, instead wanting to develop his players into his system before sending them on their way. Because of this Kryzewski has lost out on some the nations top prospects, but players like Kyrie Irving, and potentially Jahlil Okeafor, have shown that Kryzewski is willing to make exceptions for rare talents.

Popovich has taken a similarly old-school style approach as of late. Looking at the Spurs roster, almost half the team is non-U.S. born. Popovich has taken a liking to the European style of coaching, one that emphasizes fundamentals and passing over the isolation game that the United States AAU basketball system seems to love.

Neither Coach has really hinted at when they think they will step down. Popovich has been rumored to be making his exit with Duncan as he wouldn’t want to cycle thought a rebuild at his age. Kryzewski is a different story, with no real news at all about his impending retirement. The only thing that is for sure is that neither will be around forever and their 1,000 win milestones are just a testament to the greatness we have all been blessed to witness.

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