|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
The 2008 edition played with a great sense of pride and passion. As I've stated time and time again, Jerry Colangelo set the tone as the leader who got commitments from the players and coaches to work for three years. He also did a great job making sure that each player donning that uniform would play as a team. Then Colangelo brought on Mike Krzyzewski to coach the unit. It was a brilliant choice.
Krzyzewski has terrific leadership skills. I've believed that he would succeed at anything he tried, whether it was the corporate world, in the athletic world. He has a way of uniting people to perform with a purpose and a sense of pride.
Picking a successor for Krzyzewski as the 2012 coach is a tough task. Remember this, it will not get easier as competition gets keener. When the Dream Team was formed in 1992, it set a standard for all nations to look at. Everyone wants to get to that level and many nations have improved dramatically. Many countries now have NBA talent.
Leadership is going to be mandatory. The next coach must get the players to perform as a group instead of starring as individuals. The USA team must continue to play with feeling and emotion. The person named for the 2012 job will be evaluated, analyzed and scrutinized.
Here are five guys that I feel would be viable candidates for the job. I feel if you bring in a guy from the collegiate level, you get a certain spirit and the really existed with the 2008 squad. When you heard comments from Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, they were like a cohesive college team and rah-rah spirit.
Roy Williams of North Carolina would have credibility with the players. He has won the national championship and has also coached many players that went on to the NBA.
Rick Pitino has coached on both the collegiate level and NBA. He is a master motivator who communicates well with the athlete. Pitino covers every detail and would be a solid choice.
On the NBA level, what about a guy like Mike D'Antoni, who served as an assistant on the 2008 team. He has a world of international experience and great knowledge of the game. He understands what it is all about. D'Antoni would be a great asset.
Out in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich doesn't get enough publicity. He is a future Hall of Famer for sure and he has the ability to put a team together as a unit. Popovich understands what winning is about -- ask Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. They will tell you Popovich has the unique ability of using everybody's strengths and knowing their weaknesses.
The fifth would be Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. He has a load of energy and enthusiasm and has a great way with athletes. Izzo has international experience as well.
These are five dynamite guys who would be great working the sidelines for the USA in 2012. Let's make no mistake about the overall leader; it should remain Colangelo. He is a natural to remain the architect.
My version of the Fab Five candidates: Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Mike D'Antoni, Gregg Popovich and Tom Izzo!