Krzyzewski excited to focus again on Duke

Staff WriterSeptember 17, 2010 

— During the past five months, coach Mike Krzyzewski has led Duke to a national title and Team USA to a world championship gold medal.

So what's next for the Hall of Famer? Perhaps more of the same.

"I love coaching," he said during Thursday's news conference. "So I want to see what Kyle [Singler] and Nolan [Smith, both Blue Devils seniors] can do, see where Mason and Miles [Plumlee] are at; how cool would it be if two brothers vault to another level? And what can Kyrie Irving do as a freshman?

"Those are the exciting things for me, and hopefully they translate into enough wins to put you in a position to play for something big. I would like to play for something big all the time."

After all, he's getting used to it.

After guiding a veteran Blue Devils team to its fourth NCAA championship with a thrilling 61-59 win over Butler in early April, Krzyzewski coached a new U.S. team - which didn't include anyone from the gold medal-winning 2008 Olympic squad - to an 81-64 victory over Turkey on Sunday. It marked Team USA's first world championship in 16 years, and it automatically qualified the U.S. for the 2012 Olympics, where the veteran coach hopes to win another gold.

Krzyzewski - who said that 2012 will be the last time he coaches internationally, although he will stay involved in USA Basketball - emphasized that he again learned plenty from the world championship experience, including new ways to work with different people. But before his Duke team officially begins practice on Oct. 15, he also plans to take a break.

"Physically, I feel really good," said Krzyzewski, 63. "But there is a lot of emotion, and coming after winning the national title, and doing that [with the U.S. team] - I'm not complaining. [That] I had two of the purest experiences of my life in a five-month period at this time in my career is crazy, lucky good.

"But I want to have another experience with my Duke team. ... Obviously, we're on the road recruiting, but just before the start of practice, I've got to make sure I get away a little bit, whatever that means."

When he comes back, he'll lead a Blue Devils team that will be a favorite to repeat. Although it lost both leadership and experience with the graduation of point guard Jon Scheyer, forward Lance Thomas and center Brian Zoubek, Duke returns two of its top three scorers in Smith and Singler; and it should get a boost from Irving, a speedy freshman ballhandler.

All of that just adds to the reasons Krzyzewski hopes he can build on what has already been a successful, satisfying year.

"I think what's been done is incredibly unique, instead of what I did," he said. "So, OK, you're the lucky guy that was the guy to coach that. But right away, for me, it just checks off - I didn't know if we could win that, and we did. So, boom, I don't have to coach next summer ... we're in the Olympics. And now it's time for Duke basketball. I've always been, not a rear-view mirror guy, but right now. I'm not a future guy, either. I'm on to the next thing."

Singler on the mend: Singler, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier this month, is "doing great," Krzyzewski said.

"If this was the season, he'd play today," the coach added. "But there's no reason to do that; just give him more time. So probably around Oct. 1, he'll get back."

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944

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