Krzyzewski, Michael William ("Mike")

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KRZYZEWSKI, Michael William ("Mike")

(b. 13 February 1947 in Chicago, Illinois), college basketball coach who was a three-time Naismith National Coach of the Year (1989, 1992, 1999) and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Krzyzewski was the younger son of William Krzyzewski, an elevator operator, and Emily Pituch, a house cleaner. He grew up in Chicago and attended Weber High School, where he was a top student and athlete. From 1965 to 1969 he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he was a starting guard on the Army basketball team coached by Bobby Knight. Krzyzewski was a team captain in 1969, the same year he was named to the second-team All-National Invitation Tournament (NIT). After receiving a B.S. in psychology in 1969, he served in the military from 1969 to 1974, resigning with the rank of captain. Much of his time in the army was spent coaching basketball, including a stint as the head basketball coach at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia (1972–1974). Krzyzewski married Carol "Mickie" Marsh on 4 June 1969; they had three daughters.

By the time Krzyzewski left the military, Knight had become the head basketball coach at Indiana University in Bloomington. Krzyzewski spent the 1975 season at Indiana as a graduate assistant, leaving to become the head coach at his alma mater for the 1976 season. He coached the Army team to the 1978 NIT, compiling a 73–59 record in five seasons. Following the 1980 season the thirty-three-year-old Krzyzewski, highly recommended by Knight, was the surprise choice to become the head coach at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, taking the position made vacant when Bill Foster left to head the University of South Carolina's basketball program.

At first Krzyzewski struggled at Duke, an academically elite, private institution, which played in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). His first Duke team went to the 1981 NIT, while his next two set school records for losses with seventeen apiece. After three seasons at Duke, Krzyzewski had a 38–47 record and critics wondered whether he was the right man for the job. His breakthrough season was 1984, when Duke went 24–10 and was invited to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament. By this time, the hallmarks of Krzyzewski basketball had been established: an aggressive, confrontational, man-to-man defense that challenged every pass, dribble, and shot. Duke rarely played a zone defense; on offense, the team emphasized mobility and versatility.

Krzyzewski became an especially effective recruiter, consistently signing the nation's top high-school players. By spring 2001 thirty-one of his recruits had been named to the prestigious McDonald's High School All-America team. He excelled as a motivator and a tactician, demonstrating a disciplined attention to detail and an ability to fine-tune each team to best take advantage of the players' particular skills.

In 1986 Duke began a nine-year period of basketball dominance in which they compiled a won-lost record of 264–59 through 1994. The 1986 team won thirty-seven games, equaling an NCAA record. Duke advanced to the NCAA tournament Final Four in 1986, 1988 through 1992, and 1994. Their record of five consecutive Final Four appearances (1988–1992) was surpassed only by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who appeared nine consecutive times (1967–1975). Duke lost in the 1986 national finals to the University of Louisville and in 1990 to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), but broke through in 1991, upsetting the defending champion and prohibitive favorite UNLV by 79–77 in the national semi-finals and defeating Kansas University by 72–65 for the NCAA title. The following year Duke defended its national title, becoming the first team to do so since UCLA's run of seven straight championships from 1967 to 1973. During this nine-year period Krzyzewski had six Associated Press All-Americans, and three of his players—Johnny Dawkins (1986), Danny Ferry (1989), Christian Laettner (1992)—were voted as national players of the year.

Krzyzewski underwent back surgery prior to the 1995 season. He returned to coaching too quickly and was forced to take a leave of absence midway through the season. His team slumped in his absence, falling from 9–3 when he left to a final won-lost mark of 13–18, which ended Duke's streak of eleven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Fully recovered for the 1996 season, Krzyzewski led Duke back to the tournament but with a relatively mediocre 18–13.

Duke began a second period of dominance in the 1997 season, as a revitalized Krzyzewski resumed his peerless recruiting. Duke captured the ACC regular-season title in 1997 through 2000 and tied for first in 2001. Prior to this period no ACC school had ever won more than three straight regular-season crowns. Duke won the ACC tournament in 1999, 2000, and 2001. The 1999 team, led by the national player-of-the-year Elton Brand, won thirty-seven games but lost in the national finals to the University of Connecticut. In 2001 Krzyzewski won his third NCAA crown when Duke defeated the University of Arizona by 82–72 in the finals. That same year Shane Battier was the national player of the year.

Through the 2001 season Krzyzewski had compiled a 533–164 record at Duke and an overall mark of 606–223. His NCAA tournament history of 56–14 included nine appearances in the Final Four. His many honors included being named the ACC Coach of the Year six times (1984, 1986, 1987, 1997, 1999, 2000). Krzyzewski was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1999, and the Naismith National Coach of the Year in 1989, 1992, and 1999. He was the head coach of the U.S. teams at the 1987 World University Games and the 1990 World Championships. Krzyzewski also served as the president of the NABC (1998–1999). In 2001 he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Krzyzewski has been highly successful at winning games and championships, while maintaining Duke's reputation for running a spotless program. His players have graduated at a high rate and, under his tenure, Duke frequently has been cited as a model college-basketball program. The Sporting News named Krzyzewski as its sportsman of the year in 1992, writing, "On the court and off, Krzyzewski is a family man first, a teacher second, a basketball coach third, and a winner at all three. He is what's right about sports."

Krzyzewski's philosophy is summed up in Mike Krzyzewski with Donald T. Phillips, Leading with the Heart: Coach K ' s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life (2000), and for further reading see also Mike Krzyzewski with Donald T. Phillips, Five Point Play: Duke's Journey to the 2001 National Championships (2001). Also useful are Bill Brill, Duke Basketball: An Illustrated History (1986); Bill Brill with Mike Krzyzewski, A Season Is a Lifetime: The Inside Story of the Duke Blue Devils and Their Championship Seasons (1993); and Gregg Doyel, Coach K: Building the Duke Dynasty: The Story of Mike Krzyzewski and the Winning Tradition at Duke University (1999).

Jim L. Sumner