Jan 4, 2012
Is Coach K The Best Ever?

CSN Philly, Casey Feeney

http://www.csnphilly.com/ncaa/news/Is-Coach-K-the-greatest-basketball-coach?blockID=623924&feedID=10180

College basketball royalty will make its way to Philadelphia Wednesday night when Temple plays host to the 5th ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.

In a world where Joe Paterno is fired in the midst of a child sexual abuse scandal involving a former assistant, Mike Krzyzewski has become the most prominent embodiment of everything that can be right with collegiate athletics. His teams win season after season and his record is practically spotless when it comes to recruiting. (Corey Maggette received payments from his AAU coach prior to his lone collegiate season in 1999. But neither Krzyzewski nor Duke have been accused of wrongdoing.)

Yet, there is a near universal dislike of Coach K and the Dukies. That’s fine. People tend to dislike dynasties, especially ones conducted at expensive, private institutions.

Make no mistake, however. When Temple fans boo the opposing coach on Wednesday, they will be casting their venom at the greatest basketball coach ever.

Realistically, this argument comes down to four coaches: Krzyzewski, John Wooden, Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson.

We can eliminate Auerbach almost immediately because Jackson has trumped his accomplishments while competing in a much more difficult era.

Jackson, formerly of the Bulls and Lakers, has 10 NBA titles to his credit. It’s a record that will likely go unmatched. The Zen Master implemented Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense which redefined modern NBA offense. More importantly, he convinced legendary players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to play within a team concept. That being said, Jackson never won a title without one of the 10 best players of all-time on his team. So let’s eliminate him.

Now were down to Coach K and John Wooden. On paper, this seems like a mismatch. The former UCLA coach has 10 national titles to Krzyzewski’s four. A closer look, however, suggests that the comparison is much closer.

Remember Wooden coached in an era when only conference champions made the NCAA tournament and his conference was relatively weak. That fact can’t be understated. Imagine if Coach K coached in an era where only one Big East school could make the tournament and North Carolina was not a threat to win the ACC. It’d be a safe bet that Duke’s national title count would be approaching double digits.

Although it’s impossible to compare eras definitively, it’s reasonable to say that a Final Four appearance in this era is equivalent to a national title in the 60’s. By that formula, Coach K would hold an 11-10 lead over Wooden.

Furthermore, Wooden’s accomplishments are tainted by the involvement of booster Sam Gilbert. Known as “Papa Sam” on the UCLA campus, Gilbert provided Wooden’s players with illegal benefits through the dynasty years. Most people who have reported on those UCLA teams say that Wooden turned a blind eye to the improper benefits. Even though Wooden didn’t ask for the nefarious activity, he apparently could have stopped it and did not.

That leaves just one letter standing: K.

Krzyzewski is on pace to become the first Division I Men’s coach to reach the 1, 000 win mark. His four national titles and 11 Final Four appearances are more than any active coach. He also salvaged the mess that Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown left with the U.S. Men’s National team, winning gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics and again at the 2010 World Championships. A feat made more remarkable considering that he had two completely different teams in those competitions.

It has been said that the mark of a great coach is being able to find different ways to win. One look at Duke’s four national champions proves Krzyzewski knows how to get the most from his players, regardless of their skill sets.

The 1991 and 1992 teams are the most talented and complete of the Krzyzewski era. Booby Hurley, Grant Hill and Christian Laettner could win games 66-64 or 92-88. The 2001 team, led by Shane Battier, utilized the 3-point shot and an outstanding perimeter defense enabled by Battier’s world class weak-side help.

The 2010 team is Coach K’s crowning achievement. With no future stars on the roster, Krzyzewski built his team through interior defense and toughness. Any coach that can turn Brian Zoubek into the most important player in an NCAA tournament deserves to be recognized as the greatest coach of all time.

So boo all you want, just know it won’t be loud enough to knock Coach K off his perch atop the basketball world.

Is Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski The Best Coach Ever?

CSN Philly, Casey Feeney

http://www.csnphilly.com/ncaa/news/Is-Coach-K-the-greatest-basketball-coach?blockID=623924&feedID=10180

College basketball royalty will make its way to Philadelphia Wednesday night when Temple plays host to the 5th ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Wells Fargo Center. In a world where Joe Paterno is fired in the midst of a child sexual abuse scandal involving a former assistant, Mike Krzyzewski has become the most prominent embodiment of everything that can be right with collegiate athletics. His teams win season after season and his record is practically spotless when it comes to recruiting. (Corey Maggette received payments from his AAU coach prior to his lone collegiate season in 1999. But neither Krzyzewski nor Duke have been accused of wrongdoing.) Yet, there is a near universal dislike of Coach K and the Dukies. That’s fine. People tend to dislike dynasties, especially ones conducted at expensive, private institutions. Make no mistake, however. When Temple fans boo the opposing coach on Wednesday, they will be casting their venom at the greatest basketball coach ever. Realistically, this argument comes down to four coaches: Krzyzewski, John Wooden, Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson. We can eliminate Auerbach almost immediately because Jackson has trumped his accomplishments while competing in a much more difficult era. Jackson, formerly of the Bulls and Lakers, has 10 NBA titles to his credit. It’s a record that will likely go unmatched. The Zen Master implemented Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense which redefined modern NBA offense. More importantly, he convinced legendary players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to play within a team concept. That being said, Jackson never won a title without one of the 10 best players of all-time on his team. So let’s eliminate him. Now were down to Coach K and John Wooden. On paper, this seems like a mismatch. The former UCLA coach has 10 national titles to Krzyzewski’s four. A closer look, however, suggests that the comparison is much closer. Remember Wooden coached in an era when only conference champions made the NCAA tournament and his conference was relatively weak. That fact can’t be understated. Imagine if Coach K coached in an era where only one Big East school could make the tournament and North Carolina was not a threat to win the ACC. It’d be a safe bet that Duke’s national title count would be approaching double digits. Although it’s impossible to compare eras definitively, it’s reasonable to say that a Final Four appearance in this era is equivalent to a national title in the 60’s. By that formula, Coach K would hold an 11-10 lead over Wooden. Furthermore, Wooden’s accomplishments are tainted by the involvement of booster Sam Gilbert. Known as “Papa Sam” on the UCLA campus, Gilbert provided Wooden’s players with illegal benefits through the dynasty years. Most people who have reported on those UCLA teams say that Wooden turned a blind eye to the improper benefits. Even though Wooden didn’t ask for the nefarious activity, he apparently could have stopped it and did not. That leaves just one letter standing: K. Krzyzewski is on pace to become the first Division I Men’s coach to reach the 1, 000 win mark. His four national titles and 11 Final Four appearances are more than any active coach. He also salvaged the mess that Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown left with the U.S. Men’s National team, winning gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics and again at the 2010 World Championships. A feat made more remarkable considering that he had two completely different teams in those competitions. It has been said that the mark of a great coach is being able to find different ways to win. One look at Duke’s four national champions proves Krzyzewski knows how to get the most from his players, regardless of their skill sets. The 1991 and 1992 teams are the most talented and complete of the Krzyzewski era. Booby Hurley, Grant Hill and Christian Laettner could win games 66-64 or 92-88. The 2001 team, led by Shane Battier, utilized the 3-point shot and an outstanding perimeter defense enabled by Battier’s world class weak-side help. The 2010 team is Coach K’s crowning achievement. With no future stars on the roster, Krzyzewski built his team through interior defense and toughness. Any coach that can turn Brian Zoubek into the most important player in an NCAA tournament deserves to be recognized as the greatest coach of all time. So boo all you want, just know it won’t be loud enough to knock Coach K off his perch atop the basketball world.






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