Bob McKillop doesn’t need to rejuvenate his coaching career.
McKillop, 62, is entering his 25th year at the helm at Davidson and still has plenty in the tank.
He is coaching the U.S. men’s basketball team in the World University Games this week through mid-July, and he’s taking in new experiences that he hopes will transition to his Wildcats program.
“Representing the United States, what a special treat that is. Getting USA across your chest is a pretty special feeling,” McKillop said Wednesday in a phone interview from Colorado Springs, Colo. “Having to coach guys that you don’t know much about that haven’t been at all involved in your system, it’s like taking a new college job.
“And having that kind of experience is new to me and one that I’m enjoying and one I’m welcoming. I’m very, very encouraged by the attitude, the effort, the intensity of the players that have tried out.”
In McKillop’s third gig with USA Basketball, he’s been tasked with taking 12 of the top collegiate players in the nation to Russia and competing for a gold medal. In 2008 he coached the Under-18 team to the silver medal, and in 2003 he was an assistant coach for the U18 team that won bronze in the Junior World Championship.
He said the job is inspiring and refreshing, but with it comes a substantial amount of pressure. The United States has claimed 19 medals, including a record 13 golds in the Games, but only one gold medal since 1999.
The team is 28-3 in the past four Games but has just one gold medal to show for it. The tournament is formatted with pool play against five other teams followed by a round-robin tournament of eight teams.
“You have to understand how difficult it is,” McKillop said. “The United States has understood the difficulties of securing gold at any level. That’s a pretty darn good record to only get one gold. If you stumble one time you fall short of the goal and expectation.”
On Wednesday, McKillop and his coaching staff, comprised of Michigan’s John Beilein and South Carolina’s Frank Martin, narrowed the list of participants from 26 to 16. McKillop called the cuts difficult because the competition and talent levels are so close, and he said that may have been the first time any of the players had been cut before.
He and his staff must trim the list to 12 before the team leaves for Russia. Notable names remaining on the roster include Louisville’s Luke Hancock, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Duke’s Rodney Hood, all forwards.