This has been a huge week for milestone numbers. It figures Mike Krzyzewski would get in on the act.
LeBron James reached 10,000 career points in the NBA. Now, even Kendall Gill reached 10,000 points, so it's not the biggest deal. But since James is the youngest to reach that mark, it's being made into one.
Kevin Garnett grabbed his 11,000th rebound. That sounds like a lot, but who on this planet would know? It has to be the most obscure round number anyone's cooked up yet, but since he did it in the same game that LeBron did his deal, it gained some mention.
In the same week that the Duke coach reached 800 career victories in men's college basketball, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer got there in the women's game. So big, fat, round numbers are epidemic. There appears to be no escape.
Thing is, the least relevant element of Mike Krzyzewski's current week was his win Saturday at N.C. State. He is trying to coach Duke toward another ACC regular season championship, one that would rank as a bit more improbable than most of the 11 he has won or shared previously. He is trying to coach Duke toward another No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed, which would be the Devils' ninth in the past 11 years. He is preparing the team for the ACC Tournament, in which a win would be its eighth in the past 10 years.
All of that is gathered into the number 800, but honestly, a coach can get to 800 without gathering all of that. It's for that reason that it would be a mistake to become overly entwined in observation of this particular milestone. Krzyzewski's history is richer than what that number can tell you — and, more important, his future promises more than the passage of time necessary to reach that figure would suggest.
"This is an interesting team — all guys who have upside, no one who started the year established," Krzyzewski said. "It's been a really unique team for me.
"Obviously, when you're coaching in our program, and there are a few programs around the country like this — no one ever watches that team without thinking of the program. This is one of my most unique teams, in that we really don't have that All-American, at least not yet. They all can get better."
The most exciting aspect of Krzyzewski's arrival at the 800 mark is that it occurs as he continues to perform at the very peak of his abilities. He is coaching Duke to function at the highest level, not marking time and milestones but working to form championship teams out of talented players.
It might seem like an insult to someone who has been in the Hall of Fame for years, but you can see that he continues to improve himself as a coach. And some of the evidence of that is in the numbers. He advanced so quickly from 700 to 800 that you almost expect him to reach 900 by next Thursday.
Krzyzewski earned victory No. 700 on Dec. 12, 2004. That means he needed about four seasons to climb from one plateau to the next, and that was with last year's uncommonly difficult 22-11 season mixed in. With his program currently loaded with freshmen and sophomores, there's every reason to believe there won't be a repeat of that adventure in the near future, which means Krzyzewski could be in line to win his 903rd game sometime in the 2011-12 season, when he'll be only 64 years old.
Now, 903 is not a round number. But that's one that counts. No one has ever won more than 902 games, which is where Bob Knight stands after leaving Texas Tech. Perhaps he'll return and raise that standard, but for now that's the number that'll deserve your undivided attention when Krzyzewski closes the gap.
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