Coach K to Coach Team USA in the 2012 OlympicsPosted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2009
We have already laid out our thoughts on the possibility of this occurring earlier, but it’s worth bringing up again because USA Basketball made it official today that Mike Krzyzewski was returning to lead Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London. For as much hate as he gets as the coach of Duke, we have to say that he has done a great job of rebuilding USA Basketball with Jerry Colangelo although that it can be argued that his best attribute was that he didn’t bench his best player (see George Karl in 2002) or select a squad that was horribly put together/too young and act like an insufferable jerk while coach that team (see Larry Brown in 2004). Perhaps the biggest impact Coach K’s return will have is convincing the team’s stars (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade) to return for another run at the gold medal. Team USA version 2012 could potentially field a team that is legitimately as dominant as The Dream Team (none of this ridiculous “Redeem Team” junk from this year) as the 2008 team’s core players will be entering their primes with the exception of Kobe. Here’s a quick look at a potential roster for London:
PG = Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Derrick Rose
SG = Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and Brandon Roy
SF = LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant
PF/C = Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, and Chris Bosh
Obviously that’s more people than could suit up, but they would probably lose at least one guy to age/injuries (candidates: Kobe, Wade, and Jefferson) or might drop one of the potential PGs (likely Rondo or Williams). Griffin is also the other wild-card here since we’re forecasting his success in the NBA, but Team USA’s weakness is inside and it seems like he would be perfect in the international setting with the up-tempo pace that Team USA would likely employ even if Malcolm Gladwell thinks that style of play is a recipe for an upset. In any case, this team would be enormous favorites in London and would highlight a talent–recruiting–that was once considered Coach K’s greatest asset back when he used to simply coach Duke.
Speaking of Duke, I can imagine that the Duke boosters [Ed. Note: Does Duke have boosters? I would think they might have something more snooty than that. Philanthropists who happen to support basketball?] are not too thrilled about Coach K returning to Team USA although at this point he’s so untouchable that nobody would criticize him for anything. That’s where we come in. Conceding the fact that nobody can be expected to sustain the level of success that Coach K’s Duke teams had in the era leading up to his taking over Team USA, it is instructive to compare his team’s tournament success before and after taking over the reigns of Team USA.
Before taking the job:
- 2000 = 29-5. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Florida
- 2001 = 35-4. National champions.
- 2002 = 31-4. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Indiana.
- 2003 = 26-7. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national runner-up Kansas.
- 2004 = 31-6. Lost in the national semifinals to eventual national champion UConn.
- 2005 = 27-6. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national semifinalist Michigan State.
After taking the job:
- 2006 = 32-4. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national semifinalist LSU.
- 2007 = 22-11. Lost in the 1st round to VCU, who lost in the next round.
- 2008 = 28-6. Lost in the 2nd round to West Virginia, who lost in the next round.
- 2009 = 30-7. Lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national semifinalist Villanova.
Since taking the job in 2005, Coach K’s Duke teams are just 5-4 in the NCAA tournament and while he is still able to land a few top recruits (Josh McRoberts, Shavlik Randolph, and Kyle Singler come to mind) he isn’t able to land the guys who can put his teams over the top any more (see John Wall). The question is whether this is just a stretch of relative bad luck–nobody could expect him to pull in a Jason Williams–Carlos Boozer–Mike Dunleavy Jr. class every year–or if this is reflective of Coach K’s absence from the summer circuit. In light of the recent news of Bruce Pearl losing Josh Selby while Pearl was coaching a clinic overseas, we’re leaning towards the side that says Coach K’s absence is hurting is Duke program. If that is the case, don’t expect to see the Blue Devils back in the Final 4 any time soon.