Legendary Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will retire after the 2021-22 season, reports Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. The leading candidate to replace “Coach K” is assistant Jon Scheyer.
An announcement could be made as soon as Wednesday afternoon, according to Goodman.
Krzyzewski, who turned 74 in February, has led Duke to five NCAA Tournament victories, 12 Final Four appearances and 27 ACC titles in tournament and regular-season competition since taking over before the 1980-81 season.
It’s hard to believe that it has been more than 25 years since the world lost Jim Valvano to cancer. “Jimmy V” was one of sports’ true characters. He was a darn good coach who won one of the most memorable championship games in any sport and would ultimately carry the burden for a disease even after his death.
Valvano lived life to the fullest. He would coach in the same basketball triangle as legendary North Carolina head coach Dean Smith and upstart Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but he was charismatic enough to separate himself from the two, yet win plenty of games as their equal. There aren’t many people you will meet in your life like Coach Valvano. The ESPYs speech has taken on a life of its own and has carried on the life and cause of Jimmy V. Here is a retrospective on the impact Valvano had on the world.
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Playing career at Rutgers
Jim Valvano played point guard for Rutgers University from 1964 to 1967. He shared a backcourt with Bob Lloyd, who would become an All-American in 1967. The Scarlet Knights finished in third place in the NIT that season. Valvano averaged 15.2 points per game in 74 games at Rutgers.
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Becoming a college head coach
In 1969, Valvano became head coach of Johns Hopkins for a season before leaving for an assistant job at Connecticut. But his only year at Johns Hopkins was the school’s first winning season in 24 seasons. Two years later, he would leave UConn to become the head coach at Bucknell for three years and then Iona. His pre-NC State coaching record was 138-97.
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Taking Iona to the NCAA Tournament
Iona made its first NCAA Tournament in 1979, Valvano’s third year at the helm. The Gaels went 23-6 and would lose their first round game against Penn, 73-69. Iona would have a better season in 1980, going 29-5 and beating Holy Cross in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Georgetown in the second round. That win over Holy Cross is still the Gaels only NCAA Tournament win in 13 tries. The 1979-1980 season would be his last in New Rochelle, New York as he would then take the NC State job.
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NC State head coach
When Norm Sloan left North Carolina State for the Florida job after the 1979-1980 season, Valvano took the gig. That began a 10-year run that netted 209 wins, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, two ACC regular-season titles and two ACC Tournament championships. The relevance of the Wolfpack mixed with the successes of North Carolina and Duke made the Triangle a hoops haven.
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1983 ACC Championship
The Wolfpack’s run to the 1983 ACC Tournament Championship is one of the most impressive feats in ACC history. NC State was a No. 4 seed in the ACC and was not a safe bet to make the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack squeaked by Wake Forest, 71-70, in the first round. They would take on Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and the rival North Carolina Tar Heels in the semifinals and would beat the eighth-ranked Heels in overtime, 91-84. In the title game, NC State would topple Ralph Sampson and fourth-ranked Virginia, 81-78. Three tough wins against some of the nation’s best teams would guarantee the Pack a spot in the tournament.
Roy Williams has retired after 33 years as a head coach with the last 18 being at North Carolina. He won three national championships and five Final Fours during his time in Chapel Hill, so the shoes that need to be filled are humongous. Who could possibly come in and replace one of the best coaches of all time?
There is a long line of people who would love to have one of the greatest jobs in college basketball. The tradition, the brand, the conference, the recruiting area, the resources, and the Michael Jordan all make Carolina one of the most desirable places to coach. At issue is which direction does the university go for a new coach? For a program that is about family, there is a feeling that the school may look to either promote from within or hire a coach with ties to the program. There’s also the thinking that this job doesn’t open up very often (only four coaches over the last 60 years) so you go after the biggest fish you can find.
This all makes for one of the most fascinating coaching searches in quite some time. Here are a sweet sixteen list of candidates for the North Carolina men’s basketball job:
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Wes Miller, UNC Greensboro head coach
Miller played for Roy Williams and was a member of the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team. Williams has taken Miller under his wing since then and has often said Miller got more out of his potential than any other player he coached. Since Miller took the UNCG job a decade ago, he talks to Williams constantly with a father-son type relationship. Miller took a downtrodden Spartans program and has been to two NCAA tournaments, including this year’s dance. He has a no-nonsense style and prides on his teams playing defense. If the school decides to stay in the Carolina family, Miller may be best positioned to get the job. Miller’s brother just finished up his senior season at North Carolina.
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Hubert Davis, North Carolina assistant coach
Roy Williams’s successor may be right next to him. Hubert Davis left ESPN to become an assistant coach nine years ago and many feel he was being groomed for this moment. Davis played four seasons for Dean Smith and would play 12 years in the NBA … under coaches like Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Doug Collins, and Don Nelson. His NBA ties have made him a lead recruiter for the Tar Heels over the years which would be valuable if he’s to stay at Carolina. The knock on him is that he has no prior head coaching experience, but he has been the coach of the junior varsity team.
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Mark Few, Gonzaga head coach
The Gonzaga head coach is a bit busy with his team playing in the Final Four, attempting to be the first team since 1976 to finish a season as undefeated champions, but this makes some sense. Roy Williams and Mark Few are close friends (they love to share a story of their exploits one tournament weekend in Memphis) and Few has a lot of traits similar to Roy. They are humble, family-oriented and Few loves to run a high attack offense that Williams coveted at Carolina. If Gonzaga finishes off with a championship, he could be more inclined to leave the school he’s been at for 30 years as a job finished — and one of the amazing jobs any coach has done. Few hasn’t come close to leaving Spokane yet, but jobs like North Carolina don’t come along often.
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Jerry Stackhouse, Vanderbilt head coach
Stackhouse played at Carolina from 1993-1995 and his jersey hangs in the rafters of the Dean Smith Center. He had a long NBA career, coached the Raptors’ D-League team to a championship, and has been the head coach at Vanderbilt for two years. While his Vanderbilt teams have failed to get going, he is well thought of at all three levels of basketball that he could successfully recruit NBA-type talent to North Carolina. He’s been a mentor to young players in the state of North Carolina as well as well respected by his NBA peers. His struggles at Vanderbilt may hurt his candidacy a bit.
It’s not easy to put together a list of the greatest women’s NCAA Tournament champions. Each brought something special to the table and was worthy of its greatness. And, we’re not just talking Tennessee and Connecticut.
Here’s our ranking of the 25 greatest NCAA women’s basketball champions.
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25. South Carolina (2017)
Paced by 23 points and 10 rebounds from star A’ja Wilson, South Carolina beat Mississippi State 67-55 to win the program’s first, and to date only, national championship. Under the guidance of Dawn Staley, one of the most respected coaches in all of college basketball, the Gamecocks finished 33-4 and won their final 11 games to cap the historic season. Wilson, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, averaged 17.9 points and 7.8 rebounds that seasons as a junior.
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24. Notre Dame (2001)
This was legendary Irish coach Muffet McGraw’s first of two national championship squads. Ruth Riley, the national player of the year who averaged 18.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and remains one of the best defenders in the history of the college game, was the undisputed star for the 34-2 squad that did have to work to beat Purdue in the national title game. The two power programs from Indiana went toe-to-toe in the final after the Irish dropped Connecticut by 15 in the semifinals. Notre Dame overcame an early double-digit deficit and Riley tied the game late, then hit the go-ahead free throws with 5.8 seconds left.
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23. Tennessee (1989)
The first dynasty in NCAA women’s basketball history resided in Knoxville, Tenn., under late legend Pat Summitt. The Lady Volunteers won their first national title, in somewhat surprising fashion, in 1987, but it was this 1988-89 squad that proved there was really something special going on at Tennessee. This Vols finished 35-2, made a fourth straight Final Four appearance, and beat fellow powerhouse Auburn 76-60 in the final. Bridgette Gordon, still considered among the greats in women’s basketball history, was the team’s undisputed star.
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22. Tennessee (2007)
This was the first of Tennessee’s most recent back-to-back winning title teams. During the regular season, the Vols beat the likes of Stanford, Notre Dame, and Connecticut. Though they lost three games prior to the NCAA Tournament, Pat Summitt’s group stepped up when it mattered most. Led by superstar Candace Parker (19.6 points per game, 9.8 assists per game), Tennessee showed its mettle by overcoming double-digit deficits to North Carolina in the national semifinals and Rutgers in the national title game to win its seventh championship.
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21. Baylor (2005)
The first of coach Kim Mulkey’s three national title teams at Baylor. In her fifth season as coach, Mulkey, the first in women’s college basketball history to win a national title as a player, assistant coach, and head coach, had already turned the Baylor program around by the 2004-05 season. Paced by star Sophia Young, the Bears went 33-3 but overcame a 15-point semifinal deficit to exact some revenge on LSU from a regular-season loss. They then rolled past Michigan State 84-62 in the national championship game.
The Kansas basketball program is one of the teams involved in the ongoing federal investigation into corruption within college basketball, but head coach Bill Self is not going to lose his job over it. How do we know that? It’s literally written into his contract.
Kansas announced on Friday that Self signed a lifetime contract with the program. The new deal is a rolling five-year agreement that automatically adds one year at the conclusion of each season. Lifetime deals are rare, but that isn’t even the most surprising part of the agreement.
Self’s new contract contains language that states he cannot be fired as a result of any infractions that occurred prior to the agreement being signed. That would obviously include the ongoing federal investigation, which began in 2017. If Self is suspended, however, he has agreed to give up half of his salary.
The Baylor Bears were like a machine during the regular season, and they have continued that play throughout the NCAA Tournament.
Baylor drilled Houston 78-59 on Saturday to win its Final Four game and advance to the championship game for the first time since 1948. Baylor took the lead at 11-8 four minutes into the game and never looked back. The Bears extended things to a 25-point margin at halftime, leading 45-20. They maintained a double-digit lead throughout the rest of the game and won by 19.
Baylor got going in the first half when its bench took over. Matthew Mayer made consecutive baskets as part of his 12 points off the bench. Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua kept things rolling and helped build up some distance against Houston in the first half. He finished with 11 points. Star player Jared Butler scored 17 to lead the Bears.
As a whole, Baylor shot 52.7 percent from the floor and an excellent 45.8 percent (11-for-24) on threes. Butler made four of his five threes, while Davion Mitchell made three of his six attempts from long range.
Even though we have entered the third decade of the millennium, it still feels a bit weird having a retrospective on the 21st century. So much has changed since we were concerned that Y2K would end the world, and we traded in our pagers for cell phones.
With the 2021 NCAA Tournament coming upon us, it is fun to look back at the best college basketball programs over the last two decades. So much has changed in college hoops over this time. In 2000, high school players entering the NBA Draft was becoming much more commonplace, and in 2001 we had our first-ever high school player going No. 1 overall. Soon after, the one-and-done culture would be in place and would change the NCAA.
There were also massive conference realignments. The ACC went from nine to 15 schools, the Big Ten expanded to 14 teams and the Big 12 shrunk to 10. The Big East blew up and then split up. Louisville played in four different conferences in this century.
It is a tough task to truly rank the top 25 programs over this time frame. Only three of the programs have had the same coach the entire time, and aside from a select few, many programs experience considerable peaks and valleys during a 22-year stretch.
So let’s see which are the top 25 programs of the 21st century.
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25 – Illinois Fighting Illini
Bill Self was around for only three seasons, but he ignited a run of eight straight NCAA Tournaments, four Sweet 16s, two regional finals, and a Final Four. Illinois would reach its peak during the 2004-2005 season, as Bruce Weber’s Illini would win their first 29 games before losing their regular-season finale to Ohio State. They wouldn’t lose again until the NCAA championship game against North Carolina. From there, the Illini struggled to enjoy that level of success. After the 2007 season, Illinois reached the NCAA Tournament just three times and won just two total tournament games. From 2001 to 2005, Illinois won four Big Ten regular-season titles and went 141-33. The 2021 Illini were back as an elite team.
The beginning of the century was the end of the 24-year Gale Catlett era. His final season in Morgantown was a school-worst 8-20 season in which WVU lost 15 of 16 Big East games. John Beilein took over and resurrected the program by leading the Mountaineers to two Sweet 16s, a regional final, and an NIT championship. Bob Huggins took the reins in 2007 and has led West Virginia to ten NCAA Tournaments in 12 years, including the 2010 Final Four, and has been a major factor since joining the Big 12 in 2012-2013. Huggins’ “Press Virginia” defense in the late 2010s is one of the most difficult defenses to game plan for.
Rick Barnes took over a flailing Texas program in 1998 and instantly made it relevant. National Player of the Year T.J. Ford led the Horns to the 2003 Final Four where they would lose to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. Four years later, Kevin Durant would be the first freshman to win the Naismith Award for the national Player of the Year. Durant’s lone season in Austin was sandwiched between two regional final appearances (2006, 2008). Texas has been a player in the current one-and-done culture and has placed quite a few players in the pros. Shaka Smart took over the program in 2015 but has yet to find tournament success.
For much of the 2000s, Pitt was one of the best programs in the Big East and the nation. Ben Howland took a dormant program and built it into a Big East champion and a top 10 program. Jamie Dixon took over and continued the success. The Panthers reached five Sweet 16s since 2000 and the 2009 Elite Eight and were routinely receiving one of the top seeds in the tournament. Their move to the ACC (as well as Dixon leaving for TCU) has meant some tough times for the Panthers. While the Jeff Capel era has been down, you can’t deny how good they were for much of the 21st century.
The 2021 women’s NCAA Tournament is back — played exclusively in the San Antonio area. This season, more so than in recent years, there is plenty of parity when it comes to a national championship favorite.
That also means there’s plenty of individual X-factors in this year’s field. Some players are undisputed stars, while others are valuable to their respective teams in ways not always seen on the scoresheet. Here are 20 such players to keep an eye on.
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Aliyah Boston, Forward, South Carolina
One of several semifinalists for the Naismith Women’s Player of the Year Award on this list. The sophomore will be making her NCAA Tournament debut for the No. 1 seed Gamecocks. Thus, plenty of eyes will be fixed on the way Boston deals with the bright lights of the Big Dance. She averaged 13.7 points and 11.7 rebounds this season as a sophomore. As South Carolina’s most complete player, she needs to play at a high level if the Gamecocks are to live up to their seed.
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Paige Bueckers, Guard, Connecticut
Fans and analysts of women’s college basketball will be talking about Bueckers’ freshman season for a long time. Regardless of the No.1-ranked Huskies increase their NCAA record with a 12th national title. Bueckers averaged 19.7 points, shot 47.4-percent from 3-point range, and 6.1 assists to earn both Big East Player and Freshman of the Year. Sure, UConn has plenty of talent, but if Bueckers is anything less than her usual spectacular self, then the Huskies could be in trouble.
Everybody loves an underdog during the NCAA Tournament, especially when it takes down a No. 1 seed in the process. Top seeds falling in the first or second rounds happen more than we think, but only once has a No. 16 seed stunned a No. 1.
Whether overrated and underachieving, here’s a look at some of the worst performances by No. 1 seeds in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Listed in chronological order.
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North Carolina (1979)
Dean Smith had many great teams at North Carolina, winning two national championships and making the Final Four 11 times in all. During the 1978-79 season, Smith’s Tar Heels entered the NCAA Tournament, the first to seed the entire field, with a 23-5 record and a No. 1 seed. However, after receiving a first-round bye, Carolina fell 72-71 to upstart Penn, which reached the Final Four, where it lost to eventual champ Michigan State. The Tar Heels allowed Anthony Price and the Quakers to shoot 51.8 percent.
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After reaching the Final Four in 1979 with a relatively young squad, the future seemed bright for the DePaul program. Instead, the NCAA Tournament during the early 1980s proved to be somewhat of a nightmare for legendary coach Ray Meyer and his Blue Demons. In 1979-80, DePaul won its first 25 games before losing to Notre Dame in late February. When it came time for the NCAA Tournament, the top-seeded Blue Demons, who featured future NBA stars Mark Aguirre and Terry Cummings, shot just 40.5 percent and allowed 43-second half points to UCLA in their opening 77-71 defeat.
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