Eating His Young: Coach K's Record Against His Assistants


After Duke beat Pittsburgh, and head coach Jeff Capel—a former Blue Devil—Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “Playing against him is very difficult. I don’t like it.”

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey knows what Capel went through. The former Duke assistant has gone against Coach K several times and famously said of his Hall of Fame mentor, “He likes to eat his young.”

Coach K has faced eight different former players and has a record of 28-5 against them, winning his last eight matchups against branches of his coaching tree. That includes a 17-1 home record against former players and assistants.

Here’s a look at Coach K’s record against his “young”.

Never played:

Bob Bender: A Duke assistant from 1983 to 89, Bender went on to coach Illinois State and Washington from 1989 to 2002, making the NCAA Tournament three times in 13 seasons.

Neil Dougherty: An player for Krzyzewski at Army, Dougherty went on to coach TCU for six years, earning one NIT bid.

David Henderson: A Blue Devil from 1982 to 1986 and an assistant from 1996 to 2000, he replaced Mike Brey at Delaware from 2000 to 2006.

Kenny Blakeney: A player for Coach K from 1992 to 1995, he’s in his first season as coach of Howard.

Chris Collins: A Blue Devil for four years and an assistant from 2000 to 2013, Capel has coached Northwestern for the last seven seasons.

Bobby Hurley: The point guard for Coach K’s first two national champions, Hurley coached at Buffalo from 2013 to 2015 and has been at Arizona State since.

Steve Wojciechowski: A Blue Devils point guard and 15-year assistant, he and Coach K came within one game of playing each other in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Both teams ended up being eliminated by South Carolina.

Ordered from fewest games against Krzyzewski to most, here are the former Blue Devil players and assistants to play him, with Coach K’s win-loss record against each.

Quin Snyder (1-0): A player and six-year assistant for Krzyzewski, he faced Coach K in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, losing 94-81 in the second round as Duke went on to win the national title.

Tommy Amaker (2-0, average 21.5 point differential): Michigan and Duke played a home-and-home series Amaker’s first two seasons with the Wolverines. Duke swept both, winning in Ann Arbor in 2001 and at Cameron the next year. Duke hasn’t played Harvard since Amaker took over that program in 2007.

Jeff Capel (2-0, average 13.5 point differential): He never faced Coach K while at VCU or Oklahoma. Now in the ACC, he’s faced him each of the last two seasons.

Johnny Dawkins (2-0, average 6.0 point differential): The faced each other in November 2014 in the Coaches Vs Cancer Classic, when Dawkins was coaching Stanford and last season in the NCAA’s, when he was at UCF. Dawkins’ team nearly sprung the upset last year, losing by two when a potential game-winning shot rolled off the rim.

Tim O’Toole (3-0, 33.7 point differential): A Duke assistant from 1995 to 1997, he went on to coach Fairfield, bringing the Stags to Cameron three times and losing by lopsided margins in each.

Chuck Swenson (4-0, 40.5 point differential): A member of Coach K’s first Duke staff, he stayed at Duke until 1987, then led William & Mary for seven years. Swenson brought the Tribe to Cameron three times and hosted Duke once.

Mike Dement (6-0, average 33.5 point differential): A Duke assistant in 1982-83, Dement went on to coach Cornell for five years, bringing his team to Cameron twice. In stints at UNC-G and SMU, Dement didn’t cross paths with Duke, but in his return to UNC-G, from 2005 to 2011, he played at Duke four times. He was replaced as UNC-G coach by former North Carolina player Wes Miller midseason, just before the game at Duke. Coach K won that one as well.

Mike Brey (8-5, 7.4 point differential): The only former Krzyzewski assistant or player to ever beat him, Brey was on the Duke bench from 1987-1995. He took the head job at Delaware and traveled to Duke his first season, losing by six. When he moved to Notre Dame, he lost the Coach K in the second round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament, losing by seven to the top seeded Devils. After joining the ACC, he went on a run where his Irish won five of six against Duke and Coach K, including the only win by a former assistant at Cameron, 95-91 in 2016. Krzyzewski seems to have solved the puzzle in recent years, winning the last three by an average of 20 points.