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Colangelo, Coach K add great assistants

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Nov. 29, 2005

U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo should be commended for putting together a blue-chip coaching staff for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. Why does this group merit blue-chip status? Because they all bring significant roles to the table.

Think about this trio. When playing international competition, you have to have an understanding of zone defense and the 3-point shot. Mike D'Antoni has been involved with international basketball for many years, and the current Suns head coach brings a wealth of knowledge and experience.

This is the second NBA head-coaching stint for D'Antoni, who served as head coach of the Denver Nuggets in the lockout-shortened season in 1998-99 (14-36) and was the club's director of player personnel in 1997-98. He was also an assistant for Portland in 2000-01 and a scout for San Antonio during the 1999-2000 campaign.

D'Antoni joined the Phoenix Suns coaching staff on June 25, 2002, as the lead assistant coach, and he brought with him a 30-year professional basketball background that included stints in the NBA, ABA and the Italian league. Talk about winning experience -- he certainly has it.

During D'Antoni's Italian league tenure from 1990-97, he was twice named the league's coach of the year. He returned to the Italian league in 2001-02 and once again coached Benetton Treviso, leading the club to the Italian League championship after a 28-8 season. He can flat-out coach.

Jim Boeheim has great knowledge of the zone defense. He won the national championship with the Orange in 2003 playing that tough 2-3 zone. He should be able to give great advice to the U.S. players and coaching staff. I see him as a tremendous asset.

Currently in his 30th season as head coach, the Orange under Boeheim have produced only winning records. Syracuse has earned postseason berths (NCAA or NIT) in all but one of Boeheim's seasons. He has coached the Orange to three NCAA championship game appearances (1987, 1996 and 2003, winning it all in '03).

Nate McMillan has great awareness of the NBA. He is highly thought of by many of the athletes who perform at the highest level. McMillan was named head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers in July after serving as head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics for five seasons and compiling a record of 212-183. Having spent his entire 12-year playing career with Seattle, McMillan was named the Sonics' interim head coach in November 2000 after serving as assistant coach for the previous two seasons.

When you look at this trio, you have to be impressed. They all bring something special that should be a great advantage to Krzyzewski.

Colangelo has worked diligently to try to bring back a sense of pride in wearing the red, white and blue uniforms. He is heading in a positive direction, starting with the decision to have Krzyzewski lead the team. Coach K will get the utmost respect from everyone wearing that uniform. He and Colangelo have put together an outstanding coaching staff.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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