Duke basketball: A new candidate to succeed Coach K

Duke basketball (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball’s 74-year-old GOAT will eventually need a worthy successor.

Some things are supposed to be a given. We as a society like to knock taking things for granted, forgetting entirely that taking things for granted can sometimes be easy and comforting.

Going to the bar? That was always supposed to be an escape. Enter a pandemic. Church on Sunday morning? Yes, it can be a pain, but it brings us all together for an hour. Again, COVID-19 wins. And schlepping to work every day? OK, so it’s not all bad.

Of all the things given and comforting, one reigned above all: Duke basketball always, always, always has a dance card in March.

Sure, the Blue Devils don’t always make a run. Heck, they get clowned in their first game sometimes (if you’re reading this and you’re a Mercer or Lehigh fan, your program doesn’t matter). But they’re always there. Sometimes, it goes till April. Other times, you get a “neutral site” game in Greenville, S.C. (looking at you, Gamecocks).

Not having the Dukies in the NCAA Tournament this year, though, gives many of us time to reflect. And some of us like me have an overactive imagination and a platform to let our mental oil spill. The overabundance of free time combined with a lapse in judgment by Ball Durham has led to a realization that the Duke basketball world needs to hear.

First off, Banshee from X-Men is real and lurking somewhere in Hinkle Fieldhouse. As I write this, there is high-pitch noise I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy emanating from my TV as Baylor ices Wisconsin for a win in the Round of 32.

Second, and most importantly, a new name has emerged in the somber but impending search for the successor to Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Ladies and germs, meet Porter Moser.

Why Duke basketball would be in good hands with Porter Moser

The 52-year-old head coach of the Loyola Chicago Ramblers should be known to most college basketball fans who witnessed his program’s run to the Final Four three years ago.

Sister Jean may have provided the blessing, but Porter Moser delivered the guidance to a defense that held its opponents to 62.6 points per game for the season.

Then-junior guard Clayton Custer led a scrappy bunch of players on a magical run, starting with a run through the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and ending with a Final Four loss to Michigan. That squad was confident but not cocky, deliberate but not slow, and emotional but not irrational.

In short, somebody instilled inside those young men an ironclad belief that Cinderella was a label deserved to lesser teams. The Ramblers weren’t just excited to be alive in that stage of the dance. No, they expected to be there.

Confidence like that is the first reason why I think that Moser deserves to be on the list of successors to the G.O.A.T. Pandemics and poor execution have shaken the confidence of a Duke basketball program that, as with its fans, is rightly expectant of at least a Sweet 16 berth every year.

If the man can make a mid-major program like Loyola believe that it deserves a seat at the big boy table, then imagine what he could do with Duke basketball’s resources and talent.

Another reason Moser should enter “Coach K’s successor” conversations is his aforementioned ability to implement a defense. The current Sweet 16-bound Ramblers are an absolute terror in the halfcourt set, holding their opponents to an astounding 55.7 points per contest this season.

Their hands are everywhere, their rotations are coordinated and smooth, and their communication is impeccable.

Duke’s primary identity throughout Coach K’s tenure has been defensive toughness, and if he’s able, as expected, to pick his successor, then you have to think he would like to see the Blue Devils returned to a state of defensive readiness.

My third and final reason Porter should get an interview in Durham — whenever that day comes — is not exactly basketball-related, but I think it’s significant nonetheless. Porter Moser is a Chicago guy.

Hailing from the Windy City suburb of Naperville, Moser can identify and have something in common with legend Mike Krzyzewski. It may not ultimately be what he considers when seeking a replacement, but Coach K is an emotional guy, and seeing himself in Moser can only help.

Since I typed up my inaugural article on this amazing site, the intervening years have provided a few names that perhaps should have had higher standing on that list. Specific names that come to mind are Brad Stevens and Jon Scheyer.

Now, throw in Porter Moser.

And while I still think the next man up to run the Duke basketball bench will be someone with a connection to the program in some way, guys who can shake up the identity and find another gear for the Blue Devils have to be considered.

Ranking Coach K's first 40 Duke teams. dark. Next

Call me crazy, but a guy who has already once led his program to 30 wins in his first nine years on the job — the Ramblers currently sit at 29 wins, and you know NOBODY wants to face them right now — deserves a shot someday to see if he could lead the guys in Durham into the new era of Duke basketball.