Krzyzewski going for gold again

Glad to shoulder double duty, the Duke coach will try to lead the U.S. men to gold in London.

Staff WriterJuly 22, 2009 

Even after coaching the United States to a men's basketball gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mike Krzyzewski didn't feel the job he had done with the national team was complete.

That's why he found himself in Las Vegas on Tuesday with USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, announcing a second-straight three-year tour of duty for Krzyzewski as the national team's coach.

In addition to coaching Duke, Krzyzewski will direct Team USA in the 2010 world championships in Turkey and the 2012 Olympics in London. If the United States does not win the 2010 world championship, the team also will have to participate in an Olympic qualifying tournament in 2011.

During a telephone conference with reporters Tuesday evening, Krzyzewski said Duke's administrators and the Blue Devils' players encouraged him to coach Team USA again. He said NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from working with their players during the summer anyway and that most of the time he spends coaching international tournaments will not coincide with recruiting periods.

Krzyzewski, 62, said working with his national team staff as well as with NBA players such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant has made him a better coach.

"It did not fatigue me," Krzyzewski said. "It did not lessen the shelf life, so to speak, of how long I will coach at Duke. It may have lengthened it."

From 2006 to 2008, Krzyzewski was 36-1 as head coach of the national team. The record includes an Olympic gold medal that restored the United States' reputation as an international power.

Team USA had placed sixth in the 2002 world championships. The U.S. team received bronze medals in the 2004 Olympics and under Krzyzewski in the 2006 world championships.

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, a former N.C. State player, will join Krzyzewski again on an Olympic coaching staff that will remain intact. Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and the New York Knicks' Mike D'Antoni also will rejoin the staff.

Krzyzewski said that if Duke assistant coaches Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski don't take head coaching jobs elsewhere, they also will remain involved with the national team.

USA Basketball released statements from six players from the 2008 team praising Krzyzewski's decision to return. Among them was former Wake Forest guard Chris Paul, who sounded as though he plans to continue with the program.

"We had great chemistry as a unit and worked well with the entire coaching staff," Paul said. "I am looking forward to having another great experience with everyone."

Colangelo said Krzyzewski had earned the right to coach the Olympic team again. After inviting Krzyzewski to coach again, Colangelo told him to take his time before accepting and make an intellectual decision rather than an emotional one.

Krzyzewski said Duke's players and administrators encouraged him to coach the national team again. He sounded grateful for both coaching opportunities.

"I love it at Duke," he said, "[and] for any coach to be able to coach his country's team, that's an incredible opportunity."

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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