No clear successor to Krzyzewski
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski will break Bob Knight’s record early next season and become the all-time winningest men’s college basketball coach in Division I history.
The consensus, among those close to Krzyzewski, 64, is that he will stick around a while and shatter the mark. Maybe it will be two more years, maybe he’ll go a half-dozen more and coach until he hits 70.
No one knows who will succeed Coach K in Durham, but there is no shortage of candidates. There’s also no clear frontrunner. Contrast that to Syracuse, where coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins already is tabbed to take over whenever Jim Boeheim calls it quits.
Certainly, the Duke job is on par with just about any in the country. But it’s also a program that could take a significant dip if it doesn’t tab the right guy to follow Krzyzewski, who has won four national championships and taken the Blue Devils to the Final Four 11 times.
There are some who feel that Coach K is grooming one of his young assistants — either Chris Collins or Steve Wojciechowski — for the gig. But those close to Krzyzewski say those two need to go out and get head coaching experience in order to have a legitimate chance of becoming the heir to the throne.
Wojciechowski had his chance this past offseason, but spurned serious interest from Dayton. Collins has the pedigree as the son of NBA head coach Doug Collins, but he’ll need to get a head coaching job soon in order to have any shot.
There’s Johnny Dawkins, who left in a surprise move a couple years ago to make his own mark 3,000 or so miles away at Stanford. Dawkins starred at Duke, played in the NBA and then spent a decade learning from Krzyzewski on his staff.
Dawkins was widely regarded as having the inside track to the Duke job, but he rolled the dice by going to Stanford. Now he’s just 49-48 in three seasons with the Cardinal. He’ll need to do better than that to move to the top of the list.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, an assistant for eight years in Durham, certainly has stated a case — especially of late — as a legitimate contender. He has won 50 games with the Fighting Irish the past two seasons and is as well-liked as anyone in the industry.
However, some feel he’s not a full-fledged member of the Duke family because he didn’t play for the Blue Devils.
Another name that was recently added to the mix is that of former Virginia Commonwealth and Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel, who was brought onto the staff after a couple of rough years in Norman. Krzyzewski restructured his coaching staff to create a spot for Capel, who returns to Durham as the Blue Devils' only assistant coach with head-coaching experience.
Capel struggled after Blake Griffin left Oklahoma — both on and off the court — but still finished with a 96-69 in his tenure with the Sooners. He also was successful at VCU and played at Duke.
The current leader in the clubhouse — if Krzyzewski suddenly opted to call it quits shortly after breaking the record — just might be Harvard coach Tommy Amaker.
Amaker, 45, struggled in his stint at Michigan but has done an impressive job since arriving at Harvard. He led the Crimson to their first-ever Ivy League title last season.
He has no shortage of head-coaching experience from his time at Seton Hall, Michigan and now Harvard — and also spent nearly a decade on the Duke staff.
Let’s face it: The Coach K coaching tree doesn’t have as many healthy branches as many anticipated.
Former Duke player/assistant David Henderson couldn’t get it done at Delaware, and Quin Snyder — once regarded as one of the hottest, young coaches in the country — watched his career blow up with off-the-court issues at Missouri.
When the time comes for Krzyzewski to walk away, you’d think Duke officials would prefer to keep it in-house and not have to go outside to someone like Butler’s Brad Stevens.
However, there’s just no slam dunk in the family.