Mike Krzyzewski has a little bit of pull.
The first guest on the season premiere of “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” a sports talk show the Duke basketball coach hosts with Dave Sims Thursdays on Sirius XM radio, was San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Thursday night.
The same day, Duke topped USA Today’s preseason coaches poll with 27 first-place votes. Krzyzewski expects his blend of old, veterans with championship experience, and new, a talented rookie class, to get the Blue Devils to the national championship.
“We’re really exited about our squad,” he said. “The one thing about No. 1 or being ranked in the top three or four is you haven’t done anything and no one has really seen anyone else. We have a good mixture of young and old.”
Popovich is the incoming USA men’s basketball coach, replacing Krzyzewski, who coached the team for 12 years and to a record three straight gold medals.
Krzyzewski said he got Popovich to agree to appear on the show during the time they spent in Las Vegas over the summer.
Among the pair’s topics of discussion for the first half of the show were Popovich’s eye for international players and his opinion of large NBA player contracts.
Krzyzewski opened the discussion with Team USA, though, asking Popovich how he felt going into the four-year job; it’s from 2016 to 2020.
“No smoke at you, but how you did this for 12 years, I’ll never be able to figure out,” he told Krzyzewski. “It’s one heck of an operation. Everybody in the public who watches it expects, ‘Oh, USA’s just gonna win.’ They just take everything for granted. They have no clue how difficult everything is.”
Krzyzewski coached his final Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro. He finished 88-1 as the USA men’s coach overall, 24-0 in the Olympics.
“Having said all that and seen all that this summer, it’s just a big monster,” Popovich said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge, and I know full well the responsibility involved, and I’m nervous as hell to be honest with you.”