Syracuse Orange fans love to hate Duke Blue Devils HC Mike Krzyewski, but when it comes to his coaching career, there’s one thing Jim Boeheim would be wise to follow. Coach K’s retirement announcement could be driven by a number of things, but what it does do is give his successor the best shot at maintaining Duke’s standing in the basketball world- college ball.
Now, let’s be clear, the way Coach K and Duke pulled the strings on his replacement seems less than ideal. We’re not suggesting John WIldhack negotiate a return to CNY for Mike Hopkins only for Boeheim to hand things over to Gerry McNamara because that’s not cool at all. It’s the roadmap that K produces that could help coach Boeheim who decides to take over when he decides to step down.
Let me also clarify that despite what he says, Jim Boeheim is almost guaranteed to have the final say on his replacement. Honestly, there’s no problem with that because Boeheim has certainly earned the privilege of being able to do that…within reason of course. (Note: Staying five years and naming Jimmy and Buddy co-head coaches isn’t reasonable here.)
In making his announcement early, Coach K has been with Scheyer to close out the 2022 class. Duke is ranked No. 1 in the 247 rankings with three of the top five players in the class signed. Scheyer’s ability to land big rookies like Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson has been given as the reason he was chosen to slip into the big chair next year and perhaps he could have delivered the same band on his own, but having the Hall of Fame coach in the room as they finished his first class certainly didn’t hurt things.
Having a top roster is only part of the deal, and that doesn’t mean Scheyer will be able to maintain Duke’s position as one of the top programs in the country. He still has to manage the dressing room and deal with in-game adjustments. Time will tell if he was the right choice, but there’s no guarantee anyone would succeed in this situation.
This plan also takes that negative recruiting pitch of “Do you know who your coach will be when you get there?” off the table. We know the schools are using him against Syracuse and Boeheim and while Jim certainly doesn’t sound like he wants to do a retirement tour, it would help the program and, therefore, his legacy. Selfishly, an ACC retirement tour is also golden content for the #jokesandgarbage department here, as we guess what the schools would give Jim on his last visit.
What Duke and Coach K did with that early notification was put the next head coach in the best position to succeed. Since I assume Jim Boeheim is going to raise one of his assistants when he decides to leave, he could do the same. That could help the next person to lead the Orange on Jim Boeheim Court in a position to comfortably lead them into the NCAA Tournament as well. No one wants the next head coach to come under the scrutiny that comes with a slow start, but that should matter a lot more to the man selecting who that coach will be.