Wednesday, July 24, 2013
3-point shot: Coach K and retirement
By Andy Katz
1. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said that he thought about retirement a little bit a year ago after winning Olympic gold in London, according to reports from the Las Vegas USA Basketball minicamp. But those thoughts of leaving Duke and not coaching the USA national team are gone. Good. The college game would survive, as all sports do, over the departure of iconic coaches. But college basketball needs its brand name coaches as long as possible. The players come and go more quickly without the fans following the sport being able to latch onto familiar names. But the coaches bring familiarity to bridge the gaps from one class to another that breezes through school. There's no reason why Coach K has to step down unless he's legitimately tired and done. The same is true of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim. Duke and Syracuse are defined by their Hall of Fame coaches. There will be a natural transition whenever they decide to leave. But there is no rush and neither coach is showing any signs of wanting to slow down and not compete for titles. UConn is moving on with Kevin Ollie from Jim Calhoun. Ollie has all the tools to be a huge hit for the Huskies. Arizona got through its rough transition from Lute Olson to two interim coaches to now being a title contender under Sean Miller. If effective, and Krzyzewski and Boeheim are, then the longer they stay, the better it is for the game.
2. Oklahoma State rising sophomore Marcus Smart told Yahoo! Sports that he would leave the Cowboys after the 2013-14 season. This was expected but now it's not hidden. But no one should fault Smart. Smart did stay beyond what was projected. He easily could have challenged for the No. 1 spot in the NBA draft last month. He decided to come back and lead the Cowboys to a possible Big 12 title and run toward the Final Four. But Smart also has hardly shrunk from challenges. He stepped up to sign on for the FIBA U-19 gold medal winning USA team in Prague, a year after leading the U-18 team to a gold medal in Brazil. He played without ego and didn't mind blending, rather than being the go-to guy. He is one of two collegians (Creighton's Doug McDermott is the other) at the USA national team minicamp in Las Vegas. Smart is giving Oklahoma State a bonus year by returning for his sophomore season. He has eliminated the questions of whether he'll return for his junior year. This is it. And based on the way he plays and handles himself, Oklahoma State will get the best of Smart every day, not a player who will be thinking about the draft or the NBA. He'll worry about that when it's applicable.
3. Louisville coach Rick Pitino had this to say on Brad Stevens' departure from Butler to the NBA to coach the Boston Celtics and what he'll need to accept when I caught up with him at the White House on Tuesday: "I won 52 games and lost 30 with the Knicks, and losing 30 games was painful in one season. But I was an assistant first with the Knicks. The difference for college guys who weren't assistant coaches is you're going to lose a lot of games. You're going to win a lot of games, too, but you're going to lose more [in one year] than you've lost in five years of college. You have to accept losing and that's the most difficult thing."