Mike Krzyzewski is going for what will officially be his 1,000th career win on Sunday against St. John's, but it would actually be Duke's 1,004th victory since he became head coach before the 1980-81 season.
Ticket prices for Sunday’s matchup in New York between No. 5 Duke and St. John’s have skyrocketed, and with good reason. A win over the Red Storm will give Blue Devils’ coach Mike Krzyzewski 1,000 career victories. He’ll become the first Division I men’s coach to reach that mark and join former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt (1,098) as the only Division I college basketabll coaches with at least 1,000 wins.
There's only one catch: Duke has already won 1,000 games since Krzyzewski came to Durham.
Krzyzewski is officially credited with 999 career wins: 73 came during his five-year stint with Army and 926 have come in his 35 seasons at Duke. But there are four wins for the Blue Devils in that time that are not counted toward Krzyzewski's total.
During the 1994-95 season, Duke finished 13-18 – a school record for losses -- and 2-14 in the ACC. The still stands as the program’s worst campaign in the past three decades under Kryzyzewski. But his official record for that year is listed as 9-3 overall and 0-1 in the ACC. That’s because Coach K only coached the first 12 games of that season.
Krzyzewski underwent lower back surgery prior to the 1994-95 season, and the pain from that surgery didn’t subside. After starting 9-3, Duke athletic director Tom Butters announced that Krzyzewski would sit out the rest of the season in order to rest and recover. The Blue Devils finished 4-15 under interim coach Pete Gaudet, who was officially saddled with that record. In 2007, though, Krzyzewski said, "I should have been credited with all the losses."
It isn't entirely uncommon for records to be divided -- Connecticut did it both ways when longtime assistant George Blaney occasionally sat in for Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun -- but most schools would still include all wins and losses on the head coach's record even during leaves of absence. After all, that team is still made up of the head coach's players, the head coach's assistants and the head coach's playbook. But the final 19 games of the 1994-95 season were removed from Krzyzewski's record after the season, when Gaudet resigned. That means those four wins never counted towards Coach K’s career mark.
If Krzyzewski had kept those four wins, he would’ve earned career victory No. 1,000 on Jan. 3 against Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium in an otherwise forgettable 85-62 blowout. And he’d be seeking win No. 1,004 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. So even though Duke’s meeting with St. John’s has been billed as Coach K going for 1K, technically, he has already gotten there.