Mike Krzyzewski is headed to the Final Four with his youngest team of his career. With three freshmen starting, the Duke Blue Devils are going to their 16th Final Four and a record-tying 12th for Coach K. Only the late great UCLA coach John Wooden has had as many Final Four appearances, as well as a ridiculous 10 titles, seven of which were earned consecutively. Krzyzewski has a ways to go before he can boast 10 titles, but he can take one step further with a win Saturday against Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.
The expression “everyone loves a winner” need not apply here. Often loved and maybe even more often hated, Krzyzewski is perhaps one of the more polarizing figures in the sport world. Over the years under coach K, Duke basketball has become one of the most popular teams to either root for or against.
Whether you like him or not Krzyzewski is a pretty stand up citizen. After a disappointing third place performance in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, he coached USA Basketball back-on-track, winning gold in London in 2008 and Beijing in 2012. Before his tenure at Duke, he coached at Army, his alma mater. As a West Point guard, Krzyzewski played under the legendary Bob Knight. Like Knight, Krzyzewski’s temperament can be fiery at times. Off the court, he is a soft spoken, lighthearted individual who is dedicated to his family, philanthropy and youth mentorship programs.
Giving credit where credit is due is a must when discussing Coach K, despite your opinion of him or the team he coaches. Becoming the first Division I coach to earn 1,000 wins and four national titles, Krzyzewski’s legend is still in the making … and could grow even greater with a win on Saturday.