Over the years, Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari have manned the ships at two of the most prominent programs in college basketball. However, Coach K announced this week that the 2021-2022 season at Duke will be his last.
The news marks a seismic shift in the college basketball landscape as Krzyzewski will leave behind a program that he elevated to Blue Blood status. However, it may give Calipari the best opportunity of his career to take over as the face of coaching in the sport.
In a recent article, CBS Sports college basketball insider Matt Norlander detailed how Krzyzewski’s retirement will clear the way for Coach Cal on the recruiting trail. Although new Duke head coach Jon Scheyer has been a major part of Duke’s success in scooping up talented high school players, Calipari will have significantly more experience in every facet of the process.
Because of that, Kentucky could be the best set up program in the country.
Here’s more from Norlander’s latest column:
An understandable lookahead storyline to K’s retirement is “What will become of Duke?” But perhaps the more immediate — and consequential — question is: What will become of Kentucky? Calipari stands to be a bigger beneficiary of Krzyzewski’s retirement than anyone else. UK doesn’t do down years often. Calipari is coming off the worst season of his career, a 9-16 debacle amid a season of COVID. It was so bad, he brought back former assistant Orlando Antigua, in addition to adding Chin Coleman to his staff in an effort to reset the program. (Both were at Illinois last season; the Illini earned their first No. 1 seed in 16 years.)
Safe to presume Calipari will run on jet fuel next season to make sure it resembles nothing of the prior one. And for Calipari, it always starts with recruiting. His greatest challenger is leaving.
K’s retirement is big news for the man in line to become the voice of the sport—and someone poised to reclaim his dominance in the recruiting space, where he’s already the greatest to ever do it.
What’s next for Duke? How about: What’s next for Kentucky? https://t.co/7901Y2q8cn
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) June 3, 2021
“Personally, he has challenged me as a coach and a recruiter. We have competed against one another because that’s what we do as coaches, but the respect I have for Mike and all that he has done for our game and coaches goes so far beyond the battles we have had on the court over the years. Our game is not what it is today without a lifetime of dedication and love Mike has put into it.
“I want to thank Mike for all that he has done for me personally and congratulate he and his wife, Mickie, on an unbelievable career. The bar he has set will go unmatched.”
Coach K has been synonymous with college basketball for as long as I can remember. His benchmark for excellence has pushed all of us to be better teachers and students of the game. He has challenged me as a coach to be my best. The bar he has set will go unmatched! pic.twitter.com/kUcvTvaZme
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) June 3, 2021
Thankfully, college basketball fans will get one more chance to see Krzyzewski and Calipari go up against one another when Duke meets Kentucky in the annual Champions Classic on Nov. 9.