Coach K’s Players Dominated En Route to 1,000 Wins

Coach K

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski became the first college basketball coach to 1,000 wins on Sunday with a victory over St. John’s.

Coach K dominates the first 13 years of the basketball analytics era with an understanding of the importance of guarding the three-point line (Duke outshoots teams from beyond the arc 35.7% to 24.6% in the 13-year era), the Four Factors that make you score (7th straight top-10 offense this year), and boasting a national-best 35 top-100 players and eight top-10 seasons (see list of 20 teams below with at least 10 and two, respectively).

Put it all together, and Coach Krzyzewski, who pokes fun at himself by pretending he can not pronounce his own name on a John Boy and Billy radio ad, is the first 1,000 game winner. This year’s team is on pace for a 12th top-three seed during the past 13 seasons.

The only season in which Coach K has not had a top-100 player on the floor was 2012, and his 35 total tops Kentucky (33 top 100s) and Kansas (30). Perhaps even more impressive is his run of top-10 players. Sheldon Williams and JJ Redick were both in the top 10 in both 2005 and 2006. In the latter year, they finished 1-2.

Four years later, he repeated the feat by putting the top-two Value Add players on the court again in Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, and this time they took the title. In 2011 it was Nolan Smith, and then in 2013 Mason Plumlee.

Noone else has been close to those eight top-10 player/seasons. Wisconsin and Marquette are the only other two teams with even half as many at four, with the Badgers expected to get their fifth as long as Frank Kaminsky stays healthy. The following is the count of the top-100 players and the list of the top-10 players for the only 20 schools to have at least 10 top 100s and two top 10s respectively in the Value Add database assuming the current 2015 ratings:

Rnk Teams 2003-2015 Value Add Top 100 Names of Top 10 Players 2003-15
1 Duke 35 Eight top 10: Plumlee, Redick (2), Scheyer, Singler, Smith, Williams (2)
2 Kentucky 33 Three top 10: Davis, Cauley-Stein, Towns
3 Kansas 30 Three top 10: Aldrich, Chalmers, Robinson
4 North Carolina 26 Two top 10: Hansbrough, Lawson
5 Syracuse 26 Two top 10: Anthony, Johnson
6 Georgetown 21 Three top 10: Hibbert, Porter, Sweetney
7 Ohio St. 21 Three top 10: Conley, Sullinger (2)
8 Oklahoma St. 20 Two top 10: Anderson, Smart
9 Wisconsin 19 Five top 10: Harris, Kaminsky, Taylor (2). Wilkinson
10 Marquette 18 Four top 10: Butler, Crowder, Diener, Wade
11 Texas 18 Two top 10: Durant, James
12 Connecticut 17 Three top 10: Napier (2), Walker
13 Michigan St. 16 Two top 10: Green, Neitzel
14 West Virginia 15 Three top 10: Butler, Gansey, Jones
15 Boston College 13 Three top 10: Bell, Dudley (2)
16 Indiana 12 Three top 10: Oladipo, Zeller (2)
17 UCLA 12 Three top 10: Adams, Collison, Love
18 Oregon 12 Two top 10: Jackson, Leunen
19 Purdue 12 Two top 10: Johnson, Laundry
20 North Carolina St. 10 Two top 10: Hodge, Warren

UNC coach Dean Smith was the first to champion the analytics breakthroughs of Dean Oliver, but his rival school coach Krzyzewski produces players that seem focused on the Four Factors that make teams score: shooting (particularly from beyond the arc), not turning the ball over, pounding the offensive boards, and drawing fouls–in that order.

Krzyzewski has had Ken Pomeroy on his show, but he almost lost a national title when Butler coach Brad Stevens immediately ran to Pomeroy’s website after his Final Four win to almost figure out how to beat Duke for the title game in 2010.

Analytics have transformed everything from politics to sports–and noone has dominated the era more than Coach K.

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