No, Mike Krzyzewski, it’s not harder to win at Duke than with the New York Yankees

72 Comments

Last night Mike Krzyzewski became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach. Good for him. One of his postgame comments was interesting:

Krzyzewski used the New York Yankees to explain how hard it is to keep a program on top because of players changing every four years, or even earlier with the NBA draft looming overhead. “We don’t have Jeter or Rivera for 15 straight years and you have to do it in intense competition in a great school,” he said. “We never have problems because usually we can develop a team.

Call me crazy, but is it not 1000 times easier for an elite college sports program to attract top talent year-in, year-out than it is for a major league baseball team to develop two Hall of Fame talents and keep them together for 15 years?

In the latter instance you have those couple of Yankees players and … well, that’s pretty much it.  In contrast, what Duke and Krzyzewski does is to basically sign the top three or four free agents every single year for decades on end.  Except they don’t have to pay them. And there are several programs that do this in both basketball and football, albeit not quite at the high level Krzyzewski does it.

That’s not to take away from Krzyzewski.  He has to maintain that high standard he has established and he has certainly done it really well.  But to think that there isn’t a really huge amount of momentum that keeps a major program like Duke basketball going that simply doesn’t exist in baseball seems off to me.

I’ll cut him some slack, though. Bobby Knight hugged him after the game and that was bound to addle his senses a bit.