Coach K & Tara Van Derveer: 3 Interesting Facts About Two NCAA Legends And Their Journey In NCAA World

Published 01/20/2024, 1:47 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Tara VanDerveer is on cloud 9. And rightly so. She leveled Coach K’s record as the most-winningest college basketball coach with 1202 career wins. Before she surpasses the record, it is high time we reflect upon the legendary careers of both coaches that make them immortal.

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Here are three facts from both the coaches’ NCAA careers:

Mike Krzyzewski


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13 Final Four Appearances

Coach K has the most Final Four appearances by a basketball head coach. He last took his team to the Final Four in 2022 which was for a record 13th time. He eclipsed the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden with this stat. A lot of critics give Krzyzewski more credit than Wooden because firstly he surpassed him and second Wooden coached at a time when the NCAA tourney included lesser teams.


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Another reason is that Wooden only had 2 tournament matches to be considered for the Final Four. The game changed with time and Coach K proved his mettle when it was tougher for teams to be consistently notching up wins. The Illinois-born’s Final Four contentions came at a time when there were either 64 or 68 teams. Thus, Coach K is truly a legend whether being compared to a bygone era or the modern one. 

Longest winning streak was 32 games

Under Coach K the Duke Blue Devils just swamped basketball courts. His longest winning streak came during the 1998-99 season when his team won 32 games back to back. Not surprisingly, the team had many players who made it to the NBA. Among them, there were chiefly Elton Brand and Shane Battier. Coach K’s team also didn’t shy away from battling it out against tough opponents as they won against 10 ranked opponents.

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Most memorable of their victories came against the North Carolina Tar Heels. They emerged victorious thrice against the UNC. In one of the games they went as far as hammering the UNC by 20 points whereas in another they thrashed their opponents by  13 point margin. However, things didn’t particularly end on a good note as they were checked by the University of Connecticut Huskies who battered the Blue Devils. Thus, Coach K’s formidable team ended their dream run in the NCAA title game.

Coach K has a losing record against only three teams (Minimum four games played)

Another record that proves Coach K’s brilliance over his peers is that only three teams have a winning record against him, if we consider all the teams that have played four or more games against Krzyzewski. While the Louisville defeated him by a 9-8 margin, the Arizona trumped him by a 5-3 tally.

Another surprising entry to this list of the Lafayette who won 4-3 against the legendary coach. However, we will have to take into account that the record also includes his time at the Army. This might give a view into his forgettable tally against the Lafayette. Whereas, the Arizona won their games against Coach K when they were coached by Lute Olson. Yet it cannot be taken away from Krzyzewski’s credit when he outfoxed his long-time rivals during the Finals of the NCAA Tournament. 

Tara VanDerveer

Second women coach to notch up 1000 wins

VanDerveer became the second women’s basketball coach to notch up 1000 wins in the D1 basketball when the Stanford Cardinal won a game against the University of Southern California Trojans in Feb 2017. As of now, there are 6 women’s basketball college coaches who have more than 1000 wins. The closest to VanDerveer is the University of Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma.

VanDerveer will make history as the most winningest coach in both men’s and women’s basketball circuits if the Cardinal win their next game against the Oregon State. This will be scripting history proving the world that the women’s game is as important as the men’s basketball game. The first women’s basketball coach to register 1000 wins was the legendary Pat Summitt and going by how she had left Summitt behind only speaks volumes about the legend’s performance. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the game is in safe hands with VanDerveer taking charge.

Among 4 women coaches to win 3 or more tournaments 

Another interesting fact about VanDerveer that separates her from the rest is that she is among only the four women’s basketball coaches to win an NCAA tournament thrice. The other three coaches are Geno Auriemma, Pat Summitt and Kim Mulkey. VanDerveer accomplished the feat in 1990, 1992, and 2021. While in her recent NCAA title win, VanDerveer led her team to a brilliant 31-2 record, during the 1992 win she had a breathtaking tally of 30-3. However, her best record that converted into an NCAA title was her first one in 1990. 

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In that, VanDerveer won 32 games while losing only much. This fact by itself is a testament to VanDerveer’s exceptional performance. That Cardinal team had a winning streak of 20 games and only lost to the Washington. The Championship Finale was played between the Cardinal and the Auburn in which the former outfoxed their opponents by an 88-81 margin.


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VanDerveer had 30 players drafted into the WNBA

VanDerveer’s coaching tactics look to work. She has helped almost 30 players to be drafted in the WNBA. Not many might remember, but she has produced exceptional talents like Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike during the years 2012 and 2014 respectively. While Nneka was drafted into the Los Angeles, Chiney was picked by the Connecticut. 


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This adds a lot of credibility to her talent since she is not only a coach who goes for the kill in college basketball but her methods have also helped top-notch players develop into who they are. For a fun fact, VanDerveer has incorporated and used many of the practices of the legendary coach Bobby Knight at the Cardinal.

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Written by:

Ritvan Pande


One take at a time

“Monks don’t retire to mountains for Nirvana, they go there in search of the lost script”. That was me as an engineer looking for a place where my ‘ikigai’ of doing things could be realized. The feeling became fierce when I watched the legendary trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman creating commotion.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo




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