MADRID — Coach Mike Krzyzewski sees the world basketball championships as more than a chance for the United States to win a title. He wants to build a culture to ensure the NBA's best players take part in future tournaments.
The U.S. will be looking to end a 16-year drought at the Aug. 28-Sept. 12 worlds in Turkey without a single player from the Olympic gold-medal-winning team two years ago.
With a roster that includes five 21-year-olds, the Duke coach believes building up the importance of the tournament to his young roster is part of the key to future success.
"We're not going to get the same guys over and over, like the guys who were on the Olympic team - and we think a lot of those guys will come back for London, a number of them but not all of them. So we're trying to develop a culture," Krzyzewski said. "A lot of these guys have played on our select teams, or in our youth program, but it's not the veteran team like we had in Beijing."
The Americans have won only three of the 15 worlds played so far, with a bronze medal showing in 2006.
But they remain among the favorites in Turkey even though their roster does not include names such as LeBron James or Dwight Howard. Thirty-three-year-old Chauncey Billups has international experience at the top level, but that's about it.
"The youth of our team is probably the biggest concern," Krzyzewski said, "and how well we can rebound because we are not a bulky team."
Tyson Chandler is the only player taller than 7 feet on the roster.
"This team is younger but very athletic," forward Lamar Odom said. "We've got so many athletes - nobody in this tournament jumps higher that Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant or Tyson Chandler. Rebounding is will and know-how."
Krzyzewski said he had already decided on his starting five for Saturday's game against Lithuania: Billups and Rajon Rondo at guard behind Durant, Iguodala and Chandler.
Stephen Curry should be available despite spraining his left ankle during the workout in the Spanish capital, where the team is spending six days and also plays defending champion Spain as part of its worlds preparations.
"He'll be fine," Krzyzewski said of Curry, who is vying for the final spot on the 12-man roster.
Krzyzewski will make a final decision on the last player he has to drop in Athens next week, where the U.S. will play Greece in its final exhibition game.