Last week, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski notched his 1,000th victory, beating St. John’s at Madison Square Garden, collecting another milestone moment in a Hall of Fame career.
Coach K, who will turn 68 in February, is Division I’s career coaching victory leader at with a 1,000-308 record, including a 73-59 mark at Army before his storied tenure at Duke.
He also said this, in the moments after victory 1,000: “There’ll be others who win more, but it was kind of neat to be the first one to 1,000.”
It was a humble thing to say after a momentous accomplishment, but it also begs the question: Who, exactly, is winning more?
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Earlier this week, The Sporting News zeroed in on the top candidates to threaten 1,000 victories, with Kansas coach Bill Self appearing fourth on the list.
But what would it take for Self, who turned 52 in December, to approach 1,000 victories? Is it even possible? The first thing he would need, of course, is time.
Entering Wednesday night’s game at TCU, Self has a career record of 548-177, which includes a 341-72 record at Kansas. During his 11 seasons at KU, Self has averaged 29.5 victories per season. For the purposes of looking ahead, let’s assume Self again wins 30 games this season. It’s a nice and round number. That would put him at 562 victories entering the 2015-16 season.
At an average of 30 victories per year, Self would need another 15 seasons to hit 1,000 — the milestone victory would come during the 2029-30 season — which would mean he would have stayed at Kansas for at least 27 seasons, an extraordinarily long tenure in this era.
Self also would be 67 years old — the same age as Coach K right now. For years, Self has always maintained that he didn’t envision himself coaching into his late 60s. One of his mentors, Larry Brown, is still coaching at the age of 74. But Self has never offered much public desire to do the same.
So could Self eventually approach 1,000 victories some day? Perhaps. It’s not impossible. For instance: If Self could somehow average 32 victories per season, he could hit 1,000 one year earlier, in 2028-29, just 14 more seasons.
But all this would mean a few things. It would mean that Self has continued his dizzying success from his first 11 seasons at Kansas. It would mean that he has said no to the intrigue of the NBA. It would mean he has found the motivation and joy to coach into his late 60s.
Or … it could also mean that the NCAA has allowed college teams to play 50 games per season. That would help, too.