Syracuse Orange fans love to hate Duke Blue Devils HC Mike Krzyewski but when it comes his coaching career there is one thing that Jim Boeheim would be wise to follow. Coach K’s retirement announcement might be driven by a number of things but what it is doing is giving his successor the best chance to maintain Duke’s position in the college basketball world.
Now let’s be clear the way Coach K and Duke pulled the strings on his replacement seem less than ideal. We’re not suggesting John WIldhack go out and negotiate a return to CNY for Mike Hopkins only for Boeheim to hand things over to Gerry McNamara because that is not cool at all. It’s the roadmap that K is producing which could help whichever coach Boeheim decides will be taking over when he decides to step aside.
Let me also be clear that despite what he says Jim Boeheim is almost guaranteed to have the final say on his replacement. Honestly there isn’t a problem with that as Boeheim has certainly earned the privilege to be able to do so....within reason of course. (Note: staying five years and appointing Jimmy and Buddy to be co-head coaches is not reasonable here.)
By making his announcement early Coach K has been with Scheyer to close out the 2022 class. Duke is ranked #1 in the 247 rankings with three of the top five players in the class signed. Scheyer’s ability to land big-time recruits like Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson was given as the reason he was picked to slide into the big chair next year and maybe he could have delivered the same group on his own, but having the Hall of Fame coach in the room as they closed on his first class certainly didn’t hurt matters.
Enjoying a roster of top players is only one part of the deal and it doesn’t mean that Scheyer is going to be able to maintain Duke’s standing as one of the premier programs in the country. He’s still got to manage the locker room and handle the in-game adjustments. Time will tell if he was the right choice, but there’s no guarantee that anyone would be successful 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 schools are using it against Syracuse and Boeheim and while Jim certainly doesn’t strike us as wanting to do a retirement tour it would help the program, and in turn, his legacy. Selfishly an ACC retirement tour is also content gold to the #jokesandgarbage department around here as we guess what schools would give Jim on his final visit.
What Duke and Coach K did with this early notice was put the next head coach in the best position to succeed. Since I assume Jim Boeheim’s going to elevate one of his assistants when he decides to leave, he could do the same. This could help the next person to lead the Orange onto Jim Boeheim Court start in a position to also lead them comfortably into the NCAA Tournament. No one wants the next head coach to face the scrutiny that would come from starting slow but it should matter a lot more to the man making the selection of who that coach will be.