By: Brent Raines ~Staff Writer~
Maybe he could have done it a week earlier, but Coach Mike Krzyzweski once again saved one of the defining moments of his incredible career for “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
With Sunday’s 77-68 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden, Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski became the first NCAA Division I Men’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 career wins.
He already was the winningest coach in the sport, earning his 903rd win at “The Garden” in 2011 supplanted former Indiana University coach Bob Knight’s total as the most all-time.
After the game Coach K admitted, “I’m glad it’s over.”
Just two weeks ago, Duke was undefeated, and a Jan. 17 matchup at fourth-ranked Louisville looked like the one that might officially put the Blue Devils coach in the record books.
Consecutive upsets against ACC rivals NC State and Miami (FL) delayed the milestone, and Duke dropped from the second ranking all the way to sixth.
But the two losses also put the landmark game on the basketball’s biggest stage, just 50 miles from where he started it all 40 years earlier.
“To do it [at Madison Square Garden], to win the 1,000th, you’ve gotta be a lucky guy,” Krzyzewski said, “I like my place, Cameron, but this is a magical place.”
Krzyzewski admitted after the game that he will not be the last to earn 1,000 wins.
His good friend Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim could even do it next year; he currently has 968.
It is still a remarkable achievement, one that only seven NBA coaches have reached despite getting more than twice the number of games per season than the average college coach.
The Big East’s two winningest coaches, DePaul’s Oliver Purnell and Villanova’s Jay Wright, have combined for only 858 wins despite 47 years of D-1 coaching between the two.
Krzyzewski began his coaching career in 1975 at his alma mater West Point, where he had played for Knight.
After five seasons at West Point, he became the head coach at Duke University and has led the team to four NCAA Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 29 of the last 30 seasons as he continues to establish his dynasty.