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880!

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Duke rolled over UNCG Wednesday night with no real difficulty, to move to 12-0 on the season and to put Coach K at 880 career wins, or one more than Dean Smith.  It's hard to imagine the significance of the accomplishment, really: he has passed Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith, two giants of the game, and as things stand will soon pass Bob Knight.  How did we get so lucky?

When you look back at the 1980 press conference we linked to the other day, you'll see that it wasn't preordained.  The reporter couldn't get his name right (he wasn't alone in this), and when Krzyzewski spoke, there was no sign that he would become what he became.  He wasn't nearly as confident then as he is today, understandably.  Tom Butters was pretty sure, though, and gave him a ringing endorsement. And as it turned out, he was one of his three great hires, along with Steve Spurrier and Gail Goestenkors.  The man had an amazing eye for coaching talent.

But Krzyzewski was definitely the best, and he's steadily building an argument to be considered no worst than the second greatest coach of all time.  It would have been interesting to see how he would have fared against Wooden.

Duke was certainly impressive Wednesay night although you have to bear in mind that this is an 0-12 Southern Conference team. Still, Duke played nothing like a team coming off of exams and Christmas break.  They jumped out to a15-2 lead and never looked back.

In particular, Nolan Smith had a spectacular game.  This line is tremendous: 8-12 from the floor,  3-4 from the three point line, 7-10 from the free throw line, five boards, nine assists, and three steals.  That's remarkable in any game.

Kyle Singler wasn't that far off either, finishing 10-13, 4-7 from deep, 3-4 from the line, six boards and two assists.

The seniors finished with 27 and 26 respectively.

Ryan Kelly finished with 10, Seth Curry with 15, and Andre Dawkins with 11.  Everyone played at least 15 minutes.

Although UNCG was not a particularly challenging opponent, there were several good things about this game.  First of all the fact that Duke played so well after an extended break.  Second, the tremendous point guard performance of Nolan Smith.  Third, the solid performances of Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly and Miles Plumlee, who is not getting enough attention for being a clever defender. And finally, getting a game in on the Greensboro floor is a big positive.  It's why more than half the ACC scheduled UNCG this season - it's a great way to get ready for the home of the ACC Tournament.

A couple of other notes: while Coach K is closing on Bob Knight's record of 902, he has a ways to go to be the all-time winningest coach in ACC history.  All of Smith's 879 wins came in the conference, while 73 of Coach K's came at Army.  His Duke record is 807-220.  He has 73 more wins to go to become the ACC's all-time winningest coach.

*****

There were a number of well-wishers after the game, not least of all Dean Smith, who said this:

I congratulate Mike on this milestone victory. I am sure he would want to share the credit for the wins with all his players and staff. I enjoyed competing against Mike’s teams throughout the many years I was at UNC. I wish him continued health and personal success.

Among the others:

Jay Bilas:

Congratulations on becoming the winningest basketball coach in ACC history! You’re a giant figure in the game, but more importantly, you have been a transformative figure in the lives of your players. You have been coach, leader, mentor and friend to all of us, and it has not just been a four-year relationship. It has been a lifelong relationship. It has been 25 years since I played for you, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t rely upon what you taught me. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am for you and how proud I am of you. Congratulations. You are the best.

Gary Williams:

Mike, congratulations for setting the all-time win record for ACC coaches. To beat a legend like Dean Smith shows the quality of what you’ve done and I think I can appreciate more than any since both you guys beat me so many times. It’s a record I think will stand for a long time and you certainly deserve it. Thanks for what you’ve done for the college game and promoting college basketball. I think that’s helped everyone and look forward to seeing you soon in the future.

Bobby Hurley:

Coach, I just wanted to congratulate you on passing Dean Smith as the ACC all-time wins leader. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s one that I’m very proud to have been a part of. You had such a tremendous impact on my life, and I wish nothing but the best and many more wins.

Len Elmore:

Mike, congratulations for passing Dean Smith as the all-time winningest coach in the ACC. Obviously, it’s a testament not only to your longevity, but certainly to you being the greatest coach of our time. And it’s not just about wins and losses, it’s also about the motivation. It’s also about preparing young men to go forward beyond Duke. Again congratulations and outstanding job.

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