Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Has the Fall of the House of Krzyzewski Begun?

ESPN The Magazine suggests as much.

I'm sure that Jon Pessah's article hasn't set well inside Cameron Indoor Stadium or among Duke hoops fanatics, but the writer makes some compelling points. Among them:

1. Is Coach K overextended?
2. Has the college game passed Coach K by?

Read the whole thing and decide for yourself. The Duke student newspaper has lamented the decline in recent Final Four appearances, and recruiting has gotten tougher. The commercial endeavors of Coach K are substantial, and he's also employing three family members at Duke Basketball, Inc. In addition, the article suggests that the well-respected coach took a powder when not commenting publicly on the Duke lacrosse scandal at the time it took place.

Such is the nature of being one of the most successful people in your trade, ever. That's not to say, however, that some of the questions or comments are unwarranted or are not thought-provoking. Conversely, Jay Bilas (a former Duke player) was quick to point out on a recent ESPN telecast that Coack K seemed reenergized as a result of his experience coaching the U.S. National Team. The coach learned much from his assistant coaches and paired his Duke assistants with those assistants. The result: if you've seen Duke play this year, they're playing with more energy and pressing the action more than in the recent past.

It's hard to sustain the type of excellence that Coach K has brought to Duke forever. It's hard to have the hunger of a rising DI coach once you've appeared in umpteen Final Fours and won several national titles. You have to continue to create new challenges for yourself within your day job in addition to outside of it (where Coach K is more than well covered, and I submit that instead of his having an embarrassment of riches some of those riches are embarrassing). What are those challenges?

There's no doubt that Coach K has done a lot for Duke and is an institution there. The question is whether, with very limited access for non-hoop program people to Cameron, his lucrative contract and his outside endorsements, he has become bigger than the institution -- in his own mind. That type of thinking led to Bob Knight's ugly parting with Indiana and has led to Joe Paterno's tortured, extended tenure with Penn State. Hopefully, at the right time, he'll know when to call it a career.

There's something about knowing when to retire and leave on top. I'm not saying that Coach K needs to retire or that the game has passed him by. Neither. He's an outstanding coach with an excellent team this year. What I am saying that even Coach K cannot coach forever. The real question is when the challenges will no longer be compelling enough for him to continue to do what he's done so well for so long.

And ESPN the Magazine has begun the Coach K watch in earnest.


O'Reilly said...

Is Coach K overextended? Who knows but that is between him and his employer.

Has the college game passed Coach K by? What complete CLAPTRAP! It’s a pompous and pretentious thesis. I’m no fan of Duke Basketball because they’re arrogant but you have to appreciate their competitive fervor and their unparalleled success. Duke and Coach K had a bad year last year, 22-11 and 8-8 in the ACC. They were bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Even his bad years are not objectively bad.

Coach K won zero national championships in his first 9 years at Duke, and two ACC regular season or tournament championships (out of a possible 18).

Since then, in the last 17 years, Coach K has won 3 national championships, and 18 ACC regular season or tournament championships (out of a possible 34).

Since his last national championship in 2000-01, in the last 6 years, Coach K has won six ACC regular season or tournament championships (out of a possible 12) finished ranked in the top 7 in the AP Ranking (except last year) and advanced to the sweet sixteen four times and final four once (except last year.)

Read it and weep.

O'Reilly said...

Since 1991

1991 Duke
1992 Duke (2)
2001 Duke (3)

1999 Connecticut
2004 Connecticut (2)

2006 Florida
2007 Florida (2)

1996 Kentucky (6)
1998 Kentucky (7)

1993 North Carolina (3)
2005 North Carolina (4)

1997 Arizona
1994 Arkansas
2002 Maryland
2000 Michigan State (2)
2003 Syracuse
1995 UCLA (11)

Anonymous said...

The truth is that Duke has been eliminated by a less-talented, and lower-ranked team in 13 of the past 14 seasons.