Coach K: Team USA scrutiny tops Duke
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
It is clear Mike Krzyzewski enjoys coaching NBA players and derives different enjoyment and satisfaction from professionals than he does college players.
The Duke University and USA Basketball coach doesn’t need to protect or nurture the pros. It is more of give-and-take relationship with NBA players.
“First of all, I love coaching at Duke,” Krzyzewski said. “Coaching for the U.S., the first thing is I get to coach men – not young men – and guys who are professionals. So I spent a lot of time coaching the United States team and trying to form a man-to-man relationship. I form relationships with my young men at Duke, but it’s different. It’s almost like you’re a little bit more of a father figure.
“This, it’s a different level of professionalism, and I like that. And I learn a lot – because of their experiences and how they see the game – and I get different perspectives than I would from a kid who’s trying to learn the game. I like that.”
To ensure the relationship between USA coaches and players work, Krzyzewski needs to forge strong bonds quickly. They only see each other a couple of times a year, at most, during non-international competition year, like now.
Krzyzewski lets the players know they have ownership of the men’s national team.
“At Duke, they all really have to adapt to me because I’m the one who’s done it,” he said. “They haven’t done it before. Here, that’s not going to go well, if they’re only adapting to me. So I have to be out there more with them to find out their best practices, for my assistants and figure out a way of doing this where it’s not mine, it’s ours. To me, once I knew that, that’s been one of the huge keys of our success.”
There have been several keys to USA Basketball success since Colangelo and Krzyzewski entered the picture following the bronze-medal finish at the 2004 Athens Olympics. It started with Colangelo’s goal to generate player buy-in to the program and create continuity from Olympic cycle to Olympic cycle – both of which … [For more on Coach K: More scrutiny with U.S. team than at Duke, click here.]