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Coach K’s career wins record may not be broken anytime soon

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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On the eve of his first crack at breaking Bob Knight's record for career Division I victories as a men's basketball head coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski spoke briefly about whether he has a timetable for when he may step away from the Blue Devils bench.

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"I don't really have a goal right now, number of seasons," the 64-year-old told reporters in New York on Monday. "My thing probably will not be as planned. I'll know. I'll just know."

[Coach K adapts to become the best]

That Krzyzewski isn't talking like a man pondering retirement suggests the record he set with Tuesday night's 74-69 victory over Michigan State may stand for a long time. The closest active Division I coaches to 903 career Division I victories are both older than him: Syracuse's Jim Boeheim has 859 wins at age 67 and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun has 857 at 69.

If the inevitability of Krzyzewski's push for 903 wins has muted some of the buildup to the record-breaking win, it shouldn't detract from the accomplishment. A coach would have to average more than 30 wins a year for 30 years, or more than 25 wins a year for 36 years just to match where Krzyzewski is now.

It's possible either Boeheim or Calhoun outlast Krzyzewski and eclipse his mark, but the list of active challengers after them dwindles quickly.

West Virginia's Bob Huggins, 58, entered the season with 691 career victories. Louisville's Rick Pitino, 59, began the season with 597. Kentucky's John Calipari, 52, started with 509.

And North Carolina's Roy Williams, a man who has won 20 or more games in 21 of his 23 seasons as a head coach, still began the season with 643 wins and said Tuesday he cannot imagine many future coaches getting to 903. {YSP:MORE}

"To get there, you've got to do it for so long,'' Williams told reporters in Chapel Hill during his Tuesday news conference. "I don't see coaches 20 years from now lasting as long as we have, and we haven't lasted as long as coach [Dean] Smith and all those other coaches did, because the demands off the court and the stresses, and the things that you have to go through."

To back up Williams' sentiments, consider what some of the next generation of top coaches will have to do to get to 900 wins.

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At Florida coach Billy Donovan's current pace of 22 wins per year, he will be 71 years old before he reaches 903 wins. At Kansas coach Bill Self's current pace of 23 wins a year, he will be 68 before he wins his 903rd game. And Brad Stevens? All the 35-year-old Butler coach needs to do is maintain his current 29-win-a-year pace for another 27 years to match Krzyzewski's win total.

The next milestones left for Krzyzewski to eclipse are Don Meyer's record for wins in any NCAA division (923) and Harry Statham's record for wins at any four-year school (1,022 victories and counting, all at the NAIA level). Someone else eventually may challenge those records too, but it's probably going to be a while.

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