Wins, championships and winning percentage.
Caulton Tudor follows up Mike Krzyzewski's summer press conference with a foray into when the Duke coach might surpass his mentor atop the all time wins list. Tudor points out that it is pretty much a foregone conclusion assuming Krzyzewski stays healthy enough to coach and has more than two scholarship guards after next season(okay I added that last part.)
In 29 seasons with the Blue Devils, Krzyzewski’s teams have averaged an amazing 26.2 wins per season — and that’s after his first three averaged only 12.6. If he coaches to age 67 and averages 25 wins per season during the stretch, he would have 953 wins, which should keep him ahead of 67-year-old Jim Calhoun of Connecticut (805 wins) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, 64, who has 799.
North Carolina’s Roy Williams, No. 8 on the active list with 594 wins, will turn 59 in August. If he coaches nine more seasons to age 67 and averages 25 wins, that would be 819 wins.
Among current coaches, Krzyzewski’s closest long-range challengers could be West Virginia’s Bob Huggins and Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Tudor uses 67 as the cutoff age. Why 67? I am assuming because that is basically the same point Dean Smith retired. Dean was 66 and would have turned 67 had he coached the 1997-98 Heels. In short Krzyzewski has been piling up the wins and will pass Bobby Knight for the top of the all time wins list. Roy Williams, if he hangs it up at 67 will likely only make it to 819 though Tudor is assuming 25 wins per season. Since returning to Chapel Hill, Roy has averaged 29.5 wins per season. Borrowing a page from the "not his players" book the ABCers like to use, if we only look at UNC teams Roy has recruited and coached the Heels have posted 31 wins per season. The question is whether Roy can keep that pace going but if he did over the next nine seasons that would put him close to Dean Smith.
The more fascinating discussion in comparing these coaches may not be the win totals but the number of championships as well as winning percentage.
Wins and wins alone are not the be-all, end-all definition of coaching greatness, of course. The 700-win club seems to be adding a new member or two almost every other season, but the list of national championship winners is as difficult to crack as ever.
Krzyzewski and Williams have covered the gamut — winning a lot while also winning championship. While Williams may not catch Krzyzewski’s victory total, the late Adolph Rupp’s winning percent of 82.2 percent is within Williams’ reach.
At 594-138, he winning games at an 81.1 percent rate. That’s better than Krzyzewski’s 75.2 and even ahead of UCLA legend John Wooden’s 80.4.
Assuming Roy maintains his present pace of wins then keeping the winning percentage above 80% should be doable. Catching Adolph Rupp might be a little tougher but I will wager Roy's 81% in this era of parity against Rupps 82% in a largely segregated era any day of the week.
For my money, I think the place Roy could really distinguish himself is by getting two more national titles. I think there is a very good chance Roy gets a 3rd title and if he could sneak a fourth in before he retires he would be in some very elite company, especially if he does it and Kryzewski remains stuck at three. At present only Rupp and Wooden have more than three titles. Knight and Krzyzewski both have three followed by a group of coaches with two national titles including Roy, Billy Donavan, Jim Calhoun, Dean Smith and Denny Crum. Based on what we have seen in his first six seasons at UNC in which he has already won two titles, I think the possibility of a third is extremely good and a fourth if some things break the right way.
Given the difficulty of winning a national titles in this era of parity and annual turnover in the rosters due to the NBA, getting to four titles would trump the win total. Getting to four title with an 80% or better winning percentage would end all debate as to Roy's place in relation to Krzyzewski.