ChronSports' Top 10 of 2022 — No. 3: Krzyzewski retires, Scheyer takes over as Duke men’s basketball head coach

Mike Krzyzewski and Jon Scheyer coach from the sideline during Duke's Final Four loss to North Carolina.
Mike Krzyzewski and Jon Scheyer coach from the sideline during Duke's Final Four loss to North Carolina.

As 2022 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. 3: Following one last successful season, Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski—better known to most as Coach K—called it a career, handing off his role as Duke men's basketball head coach to longtime protege Jon Scheyer. For the full list, click here.

It had to happen eventually.

For more than four decades, Mike Krzyzewski was the main man in Durham. On the sidelines of his eponymous court inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, Krzyzewski turned Duke from a heavyweight into a dynasty. Thirteen Final Fours. Fifteen ACC Tournament triumphs. Thirteen ACC regular-season titles. And, the cherry on top: five national championships—a number eclipsed only by John Wooden in his legendary spell at UCLA.

And then, on a seemingly random June day in 2021, year number 42 was to be his last.

With yet another top-ranked freshman class, featuring one of college basketball’s most pro-ready prospects in years in Paolo Banchero, and a weaker-than-normal ACC to contend with, the pieces were in place for a raucous signoff the likes of which the college game had never seen before. That fairytale fell short of the final hurdle after a soul-crushing defeat to resurgent rival North Carolina in an all-time Final Four showdown in New Orleans. Painful as it may have been for Duke fans, the end had to happen eventually.

The next months brought immense change. Banchero, Trevor Keels, AJ Griffin, Mark Williams and captain Wendell Moore Jr. departed for the NBA. Another freshman class came to campus littered with more starlets than the last. Krzyzewski was gifted a new dog, aptly named Coach, at the team’s end-of-year banquet to commemorate his retirement. The most monumental shift, however, was the man tasked with ushering in the second phase of the Blue Devil dynasty and upholding the lofty standards put forth by his predecessor.

Jon Scheyer was no stranger to Duke men’s basketball. The 35-year-old had been an assistant on Krzyzewski’s staff since 2013 and year after year proved his recruiting chops, helping the Blue Devils to five top-ranked freshman classes and never sitting outside the top three. On top of that, Scheyer was the senior point guard when Duke cut down the nets for the fourth time in Indianapolis in 2010.

It seemed a natural transition. Players and recruits alike knew him well, he earned his tactical nous under the game’s best for nearly a decade and had played his entire college career in front of the very fans he now sought to satisfy. Regardless, living up to Krzyzewski’s legacy is a tall order for any coach, let alone one in the role for the first time.

Cameron Indoor got its first glimpse of Scheyer at October’s Countdown to Craziness. A couple of weeks later, it saw his team finally play a full 40 minutes in an exhibition game against Fayetteville State. Then, the following Monday against Jacksonville, Scheyer officially kicked off his head-coaching career with a 71-44 win.

The last couple of months of 2022 were a busy bunch for the Blue Devils and an up-and-down affair for Scheyer. Duke nearly took down reigning national champion Kansas in the Champions Classic in November, showed character and grit in gutsy wins against Oregon State and Xavier during the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland, Ore., and got a taste of what it needs to do if it wants to compete this spring after being thoroughly outclassed by current No. 1 Purdue in the tournament final. It confidently took down Ohio State at home and Iowa at Madison Square Garden and won its ACC opener before dropping its contest at Wake Forest just before Christmas.

Such is sport; rarely are transitions smooth.

This whole story has been fraught with various lasts and even more firsts. Krzyzewski coached his last game. He made his final appearance in the Final Four. He bid a bittersweet farewell to the arena which had, since 1980, become his stage for the improbable, impossible and incredible. For Scheyer, a freshman class arrived in Durham for the first time in 42 years that would not be coached by Krzyzewski. A new staff was assembled and new philosophies were adopted for how this team would play. Most obviously, the potential for a new legacy under a different name became not just a possibility, but a concrete reality.

It had to happen eventually. The funny thing about “eventually,” though, is that no matter when that thing happens, it always comes as a surprise.

Under the looming shadow of his former coach, Scheyer will hope that his tenure springs some surprises of its own.

READ MORE on Duke men's basketball's transition of power:

'A lifetime decision': Jon Scheyer takes on latest challenge in first season as Duke men's basketball head coach

The Chronicle's Duke men's basketball 2022-23 season preview

'We're on our way there': Scheyer introduces coaching staff, speaks for first time as Duke men's basketball head coach

At preseason media day, Duke men's basketball previews first season under Scheyer

Column: Duke men's basketball's Final Four run sets up the next chapter

Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Sports Editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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