Journalists and bloggers have been dissecting and analyzing for over 30 years the true impact of why Coach K has been the gold standard for men’s college basketball.
For several years, it was the late, esteemed UCLA mastermind in John Wooden and his “Pyramid of Success” that emulated young men into great leaders in whatever life pursuits are thrown their way.
With being raised in Chicago and molding a few dozen young men after learning from “The General” Bobby Knight while at West Point, Duke took a chance on Coach K in the early 1980’s while Dean Smith and Jim Valvano commanded a majority of the headlines.
I first noticed Coach K’s ability to mold young men into great basketball players during the 1986 Final Four at the old Reunion Arena in Dallas. Although they did not win the title that season, losing by a few points to Denny Crum’s Louisville Cardinals–fans began to take notice.
Once players from the likes of Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Tony Hill, Bobby Hurley, and Abel Abdelnaby were recruited, things began to really blossom. Other players continued on the pipeline like Jay Williams, Elton Brand, and Shane Battier that would later add to the legend.
Ten Final Four appearances (including five straight years from 1988 through 1992), four national championships (including back-to-back crowns in 1991 and 1992) and multiple Sweet 16 berths all spell a few simple words…
See the amazing feat possibly on Sunday afternoon 2 p.m. Eastern time on FOX, ironically enough in the same venue of Madison Square Garden where Coach K broke Bobby Knight’s record for most career wins in the sport at 903 against Michigan State (when The General was the third-string commentator on that evening working for ESPN) during the November 2011 Preseason NIT tournament.
If St. John’s upsets Duke, the Blue Devils will try again at two very difficult venues to play–Wednesday night at undefeated Virginia and a week from Saturday, January 31 at Purcell Pavilion inside the Joyce Center where Notre Dame hopes to write yet another glorious chapter in their storied hoops history to go alongside Digger Phelps in helping snap UCLA’s record 88 game winning streak in January 1974.
Whether you love or hate Duke, please take a moment to acknowledge this truly historic moment. Moments like these do not come too often. And with the sudden changes and the inflexibility of schools and job security, you won’t be seeing too many coaches in the future staying at the same school for 15, 20, or even 30 years going forward.
No question about it, Coach K definitely belongs on the Mount Rushmore of men’s college basketball–if there hasn’t been a likeness of him chiseled in granite and bronze already, there should be after win number 1,000 goes into the NCAA record books.