College Basketball Nation: Team USA

Chris Paul, Mike Krzyzewski, James HardenAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesMike Krzyzewski says that leading Team USA has extended his career as a coach.
Had he never accepted the head coaching job of the USA men's basketball national team in 2005, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski might have been considering retirement right about now.

Farfetched? Maybe, maybe not.

Being the leader of the national team has revitalized the 66-year old Krzyzewski like nothing college basketball, or maybe even the NBA, could have done for him. Those close to him say it has added at least 10 years to his career, maybe more.

“USA basketball has helped energize me," Krzyzewski said on a conference call Thursday after accepting Jerry Colangelo's offer to lead the Americans yet again.

“I’ve learned so much over the last seven years. It made me a better coach. Instead of reducing my shelf life, it has added to it. I believe it will do that over the next four years also.’’

Krzyzewski will go for a second FIBA World Cup of Basketball title (that's the new name for the World Championships) in 2014 in Madrid and a third Olympic gold in Brazil in 2016. And he’ll also be coaching Duke during that time frame, regularly challenging for the ACC and national title.

He has the most wins in Division I history and four national titles to his name. He's done just about everything a coach can do.

And yet Coach K still says the USA basketball experience continues to offer up educational opportunities.

“USA basketball gave me good ideas in the ‘90s (when he was an assistant coach on the Dream Team) and in the early 2000s too,’’ Krzyzewski said. “We were just OK for a few years at Duke. But USA has definitely helped me. I know I’m a better coach. You just learn more and learn so much more. It has helped me a lot.’’

Any appetite he might have had for trying his hand as an NBA coach? Satisfied by his experience with USA basketball. Coach K has the best of both worlds now where he can coach an American all-star team for national pride and unity every two years and still maintain his presence at Duke. He doesn’t have to deal with the NBA grind. He gets his fix.

Colangelo said Thursday he never waffled on his desire to keep Krzyzewski around, despite the coach's announcement that he was stepping down. There was speculation outside USA basketball on who the next coach would be, but never any conversations internally about replacing Coach K. The plan was always to give Krzyzewski space and then move on him after Duke's season was over.

Krzyzewski said there were discussions at the Final Four and the latest agreement to coach the team was completed in Las Vegas earlier this month. He had to sit down with Duke officials and of course his family to finalize his commitment.

They were fully on board as long as he really wanted to do it and did not feel forced into a decision. Coaching the Americans, much like Duke, has become a family affair for the Krzyzewskis. His wife and daughters and their extended family have gone on the trips abroad and are invested in the USA program, just like they are at Duke. His staff, notably assistant coaches Steve Wojciechowski and former assistant Chris Collins, now the head coach at Northwestern, were court coaches and advance scouts for the national team.

Through the year, leading Team USA and Duke has been seamless.

The two seasons do not overlap and coaching the national team will not obstruct anything he has to do this summer in recruiting. His only real duty for Team USA will be coaching an intrasquad scrimmage July 25 in Vegas between 24 of the younger American players in the national system.

Krzyzewski said there will be some changes on the roster, which has happened under his watch and is inevitable. But having coaching consistency on the national team (Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Wednesday he would be assisting again, but it’s not official yet and neither are the other two assistant spots) and on the junior national teams is something the United States lacked for decades.

Florida’s Billy Donovan and one (VCU's Shaka Smart) of his two assistants from last year’s gold-medal winning U-18 national team are back to coach the U-19 team in a tournament in the Czech Republic in July.

Having coaches return sounds normal, but it was foreign in USA basketball until Colangelo got on board.

“When I took over in 2005, we had to change the culture and change the respect we had in the world basketball community,’’ Colangelo said. “Some of those countries did a terrific job of their infrastructure and continuity. They had players play together for years and years.

“We have an academic program here [college] and they have club programs, so it’s easier to keep the players together in the other countries. We have a hybrid and to develop continuity it starts with our 16-year-olds. We’ve got it well-tuned and as long as it keeps going, this infrastructure, USA basketball will have a bright future."

Video: Coach K returns to Team USA

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
4:54
PM ET
video
Andy Katz discusses the reports that Mike Krzyzewski will remain as head coach of the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.
The Afternoon Links are back, and they are exactly what they say they are. Some days will bring more links than others. This is the offseason, after all. If you have a link you'd like included, your best bet is to hit me on Twitter. You can also e-mail your link to collegebasketballnation at gmail.com, or use the submission form here.
  • James Johnson's first item of business was winning the news conference, and that seemed to go pretty well, at least according to Hampton Roads Daily Press' David Teel: "James Johnson didn't act like the ACC's youngest, least-experienced and probably lowest-paid head basketball coach Tuesday. Conversely, Virginia Tech's new boss appeared comfortable during his introductory news conference. Comfortable in the spotlight, confident in himself. Don't misunderstand. There wasn't a whisper of brashness. He wasn't glib, emotional or long-winded. Some may interpret that as anxiety. But I saw comfort mixed with humility." Even better? As planned, Johnson's hiring prompted recruit Marshall Wood, who had asked for his release after former coach Seth Greenberg's departure, to remain in the fold.
  • Western Kentucky freshman Derrick Gordon announced his transfer to UMass, where he will sit out a year before becoming eligible in 2013-14, via Twitter. Judging by the COPIOUS USE OF CAPS LOCK, Gordon is excited about the news.
  • Over the weekend, Team USA added Oklahoma City's James Harden and (more relevant to our interests) likely No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis to the pool of players eligible for selection to this summer's Olympic team. Davis would still have to make a final cut, but given the dearth of true big men available to Mike Krzyzewski this summer -- Dwight Howard is out, and without him the only true center in the player pool is NBA defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler -- Davis might have an outside shot at making the squad. I'll be honest: I would love to see Davis play in the international system. (And also: I can not wait until the 2012 Summer Olympics. You're going down, Spain! Who's with me?)
  • We missed this late last week, but Connecticut got a commitment from Phil Nolan, a 6-foot-10 forward ranked No. 23 at his position in the class of 2012. Nolan might not make an immediate impact, but in the wake of Andre Drummond's draft departure, Alex Oriakhi's transfer to Missouri, and Roscoe Smith's defection, Nolan's sheer size makes him an important get.
  • The Washington Post recognized the 10th anniversary of Maryland's 2002 national championship with a photo slideshow. When done poorly, photo slideshows are one of the worst things about the Internet. When done well, they're totally awesome. This is an example of the latter, complete with "Where are they now?" updates on each of the beloved title-winning Terrapins. For example: Did you know Juan Dixon is in Turkey? True! And that Steve Blake plays for the ... ha, just kidding.
  • Obligatory in-house links: Today, Myron Medcalf breaks down how Kentucky's 2012 freshmen raised the expectations bar forever. In case you missed it, be sure to see Myron's story on Trent Lockett, who transferred from Arizona State to Marquette be closer to his mother, who is fighting her second diagnosis of a "crazy" and "rare" brand of lymphoma cancer. And don't miss last week's feature on a renewed Bruce Weber, who looked refreshed and ready for a new challenge at Kansas State when he spoke with our Jason King.
  • Daily basketball break: "Any faceted solid, he showed, no matter how complex or irregular, could be folded from a single uncut sheet of paper. Start with a piece of paper big enough, and you could model Notre Dame down to the last gargoyle." You may want to read this story.

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