From the hallowed hardwood in Madison Square Garden, a pupil could surpass the master tonight.
When Duke takes on Michigan State in the Champions Classic in New York City, coach Mike Krzyzewski will have an opportunity to pass his mentor, Bob Knight, for the most Division I wins in NCAA history. The Blue Devils beat Presbyterian Saturday to give Coach K win No. 902. A third consecutive victory to open the season would be the record-setter.
In a press conference Monday, Coach K said that “somebody asked me this morning about where would this be in a list of things that you feel really good about, and I said, ‘It’s behind every championship. And not just national championships but league championships.'”
That doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. Krzyzewski, who turns 65 in February, has been one of the top coaches in the game for several decades after a slow start to his career in Durham. His perseverance and determination are a model of leadership that extends far beyond a basketball arena. In a sport filled with unsavory characters and frequent recruiting violations, Coach K keeps Duke on the up and up. He takes pride in his players’ high graduation rate, and he cares more about the accomplishments of specific Blue Devil teams than his own accolades.
“You want to win a championship with the team that you coach that year, and those are the things that you remember are championship moments — whether they be league championship moments, regular season, ACC,” Krzyzewski said. “Obviously the biggest thing that you can remember easily is national championships. But championships are things that I look back on because that’s a real accomplishment.”
Another coaching legend, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, won’t make it easy for Coach K to celebrate his record-breaking victory. But whenever Krzyzewski gets No. 903, it will be one of the major highlights of the entire 2011-12 season.
We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.
- Louisville junior guard Mike Marra will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against Lamar Sunday, according to an Associated Press report. Marra’s loss is significant as he was an important member of coach Rick Pitino’s backcourt rotation, averaging 6.4 points per game last season.
- The good news for Louisville is that freshman guard Kevin Ware has his academics in order now and will be eligible to play for the Cardinals starting in mid-December, after the university’s fall semesters concludes, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader report.
- Arizona had to dig deep to rally past Ball State, which held a nine-point halftime lead against the Wildcats Sunday. With junior swingman Kevin Parrom back in the lineup just seven weeks after being shot in the leg and hand while visiting family in New York City and four weeks after his mother died, according to the Associated Press, the Wildcats found the will to lock down the Cardinals in the second half for a 73-63 win. Parrom contributed six points and four rebounds in 18 minutes to help get the Wildcats the victory.
- Instant replay might slow down the game in the NFL, but at least the officials get the calls right more often than not. Vermont probably wishes more stadiums had replay capabilities after falling victim to a lack of technology in a 61-59 loss to South Florida played at Division II University of Tampa. After calling a timeout, the clock ran for an extra second or two, but the referees couldn’t review the time on the clock because there were no available video feeds, writes ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan. The Catamounts hit a would-be game-tying tip-in on their final possession — just after the buzzer.
- Texas A&M will be without one of the best players in the Big 12, Khris Middleton, while the junior forward recovers from a knee injury suffered during the Aggies’ 81-59 win against Liberty, according to an Associated Press report.
- According to a CBS Sports.com wire report, Marquette will play its first three games without freshman Juan Anderson for a rules violation. The oftense? Accepting a free ticket to see the Milwaukee Brewers in the Major League Baseball playoffs.