Coach K, changing mind, will coach Team USA again
Mike Krzyzewski will make at least one more run for the gold.
Duke’s Hall of Fame basketball coach, having led Team USA to gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games, has agreed to remain in that position for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Krzyzewski, the all-time leader in Division I men’s basketball coaching wins with 957, said as recently as February that he was done coaching the national team.
But the 66-year-old coach reversed his course since then. He met with his family, including wife Mickie and his three daughters, Debbie Savarino, Lindy Frasher and Jamie Spatola, to ensure they were on board with his feelings about coaching the team again. He talked it over with his Duke staff.
Over the past week, he came to an agreement with USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo to coach the team for at least three more years.
Krzyzewski was unavailable for comment Wednesday. He will hold a news conference at Cameron Indoor Stadium Thursday morning.
Debbie Savarino said Wednesday her father, who first announced last summer that the London Games would be his last as head coach, had to experience not being the Team USA coach to realize how much he wanted to keep doing it.
“I think it’s hard to step away from something when you are passionate about it and when you still have the passion to do it,” Savarino said. “I think he needed to see how it settled with him to not do it. He wasn’t going to be the Olympic coach again. How would if feel? I think he had to think through that process.”
At both the Beijing Olympics and the London Olympics, Krzyzewski’s family has traveled with him and experienced the gold medal wins. That includes Krzyzewski’s and his wife’s children and grandchildren.
Savarino said when Krzyzewski asked her if she was on board for another run, she responded with a question for him.
“When he said to me that he wanted to do it again I said, `Are you excited?” Savarino said. “He said, `Yes.’ And I said, `I’m in. If you’re excited, we’re excited.’”
As has happened so often in his coaching career, Krzyzewski will be attempting to make history. No coach has led the U.S. to three Olympic gold medals.
The only coach who has led Team USA in three Olympics is Henry Iba. The Americans won gold medals under Iba in 1964 (Tokyo) and 1968 (Mexico City) before losing the controversial 1972 gold medal game to the Soviet Union in Munich, Germany.
Since becoming the U.S. Men’s National Team’s head coach in 2005, Krzyzewski has compiled a 62-1 record.
NBA superstars such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant have lauded Krzyzewski for creating an environment that attracts top players to give up their summer break to play for the U.S. National Team.
Krzyzewski has been involved with coaching U.S. teams in international play dating to 1979 when he assisted Bob Knight at the Pan American Games. His first head coaching stint came at the 1983 Olympic Festival when he led the South team to a 3-1 record and a gold medal.
Now, 30 years later, he’s signing up for another three-year run coaching the nation’s top players in international competition. USA Basketball will hold a minicamp in Las Vegas in July.
Krzyzewski will coach the team at the World Cup of Basketball in Madrid, Spain, in 2014. If the U.S. wins that title, which it did in 2010 under his watch, the team will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
He’ll do the job in addition to continuing to coach Duke. It’s a busy schedule, but Savarino said her father clearly has the energy for it.
“My dad is 66 years old,” Savarino said. “A lot of people going into that age may start thinking ‘I’m going to slow down and not do as much.’ He’s just as energetic and passionate and excited as he’s ever been. That’s beautiful to watch. He loves what he does.”