As 2021 comes to a close, The Chronicle's sports department takes a look back at the biggest stories of the year in Duke athletics. Each day, we will review a major game, event or storyline that helped shape the course of the year for the Blue Devils.
Coming in at No. 1: Coach K announces his retirement, effective after the 2021-22 season, and Jon Scheyer is named head-coach-in-waiting. For the full list, click here.
In the story of the year (and a top story for years to come), legendary Duke men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced his inevitable retirement June 2. He marked the 2021-22 college basketball season as his last and laid out a plan for the movement to new head coach Jon Scheyer.
Retirement was expected sometime in the years to come, but Duke fans and fans of the game everywhere were heartbroken that the moment came so soon.
Krzyzewski was 74 at the time of the announcement and had already amassed quite the legacy prior to any events of the current year. 41 seasons, five national championships, 12 Final Four appearances, 15 ACC Championships, three Naismith College Coach of the Years, five ACC Coach of the years, five gold medals, College Basketball Hall of Fame, United States Olympic Hall of Fame, all-time winningest coach in Division I history—and the chance to add more this season.
The Chicago native joined Duke in 1980 following a successful five years as the head coach of Army, his alma matter. His career had its ups and downs, but through all the rebuilding and struggle, the name “Coach K” was built, and with it, the brand of Blue Devil basketball.
Krzyzewski brought Duke men's basketball the highest achievement in college hoops five times, each run seeming more improbable than the last. In 1991, the Blue Devils shocked the nation by beating undefeated UNLV in the Final Four before taking down Kansas in the championship. In 1992, Duke took down Michigan to win it all, but not before Christian Laettner hit one of the most iconoic shots in sports history to advance past Kentucky in the Regional Final. In 2001, the Blue Devils cruised to a championship after entering the tournament as a No. 1 overall seed and dominating Arizona in the finals. In 2010, Duke narrowly escaped Butler on a near buzzer-beater to earn its fourth title. And in 2015, the Blue Devils pulled off a Tyus Jones-fueled comeback that propelled them past Wisconsin in the championship game for the program's fifth title.
Krzyzewski leaves the team in great hands with his star pupil. Scheyer played four years at Duke and was a piece of the 2010 national championship team his senior year. After going undrafted and playing a few years overseas, he joined Krzyzewski once again in 2013, this time as an assistant coach. In nine seasons under Krzyzewski, the throne now awaits the 34-year-old who also has roots in Chicago.
The biggest question mark for the head coaching transition has been on the recruiting front. Krzyzewski has been known for bringing in the top talent from across the country. Under his tenure, 14 freshmen have gone on to be lottery picks and 67 total players Krzyzewski have been taken in the NBA Draft.
But Scheyer quickly settled any concerns by continuing the recruiting legacy. Duke has the No. 1 overall recruiting class in 2022 and is in the running for more big names for the class of 2023 to go along with the two big-time recruits they already have.
When Krzyzewski walks off of Coach K court in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the final time at the end of this season, it will be a sad moment for millions of basketball fans. But the future is bright for the program and the 42 years of blood, sweat and tears given by Coach K will never be forgotten.
READ MORE on Coach K's retirement announcement:
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