Editor's note: Over five weeks, we will reveal the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil No. 4: Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. On Wednesday, we will release No. 3.
Sometimes, when a career is especially lengthy or especially brilliant or both, it's easier to understand it by carving it up into arbitrary chunks.
Here's one such chunk: Since 2006-07, the Duke Blue Devils have won exactly one regular season ACC title. In six of those eight seasons, Duke failed to progress past the Sweet 16. In three of those seasons, they lost their first NCAA tournament game. In two of the past three years, they've been sent home right away, by a No. 15 and No. 14 seed, respectively.
This is -- if you choose to look at it this way -- the most fallow period in Duke hoops history since Coach K's first three seasons, 1980-91 to 1982-83, when the young former Army coach was still laying the relevant groundwork. By the mid-'80s, Duke was already getting dominant. After back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992, the program was officially lofted into the college basketball firmament.
Here's another arbitrary chunk: From 1997 to 2006, the Blue Devils won seven ACC regular-season titles. They appeared in three Final Fours. They won one national title. They averaged 30.4 wins per season. They were, more than any program since John Wooden-era UCLA, omnipresent.
It is only in this context -- held next to the remarkable decades that preceded it -- that you could call Coach K's past handful of seasons "subpar."
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