In his heart of hearts, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is probably pretty proud of himself. How could he not be? The man just achieved -- rather quietly, at that -- one of the more impressive coaching distinctions in college hoops history. Having won his 880th game Wednesday night, Coach K moves past former rival Dean Smith into second on the all-time wins list. With 23 more victories, Coach K will pass Bob Knight and become the winningest coach of all-time. These are things worth being proud about.
In public, though, Coach K has done his best to keep the milestone talk to a minimum, and that included his comments after last night's win, which were pitch-perfect in their perspective and humility. From FanHouse:
"I don't want to make it sound less than what it is, but number of wins, you have to be healthy, you have to have really good players, you have to have commitment from your school,'' Krzyzewski said. "So, I don't know if that's as much an achievement as much as the result of having all those things. And so I'm not going to look at this as an achievement. When you win a championship ... those are achievements. The number of wins, you have to win a certain number of games -- especially the last one -- to get an achievement.''
That's pretty nice stuff. And in a way, Coach K isn't just blowing smoke. Wins are one way to quantify a coach's career, and the all-time coaching wins leaders list comprises a who's who of legendary coaches in the sport. But they're not the be-all and end-all of coaching greatness. At some point, sheer longevity factors in. No one would question John Wooden's place among the greatest coaches of all-time because his wins total isn't in the high 800s.
But when you combine that longevity with consistent excellence, you get Bob Knight. You get Dean Smith. And you get Coach K.