Over the summer Coach K agreed to coach the USA Olympic Basketball team for his third Olympic games in a row. He has now been involved with the team for about 9 years and will remain involved for at least two more. Some Duke fans out there have questioned Krzyzewski’s involvement in the past. They were, and some still are, afraid of what type of consequences his involvement with the USA team can have on his team at Duke. What these fans fail to see is that the benefits of coaching the USA team far outweigh negatives.
For starters, doubters think that Krzyzewski is less involved with the Duke program while he is dealing with the national team. This is true to some extent. Yes, Coach K misses portions of the summer workouts to coach the Olympic team in various locations. However, these workouts are left in the very capable hands of the Duke assistants. These associate head coaches consist of former and future great head coaches. They are more than able to handle summer workouts. On top of this, anyone who has seen a Duke practice before knows that these assistants are the muscle of the operation while Krzyzewski is the brains. All drills and workouts are run by the associate coaches, while Krzyzewski looks on. When the practices become more strategy oriented, then Krzyzewski becomes involved. Since summer workouts consist of mainly drilling and conditioning, the only thing that Coach K is missing is seeing what his players are doing. This information could be easily received from telephone calls with his coaching staff.
One could even make the argument that Krzyzewski’s involvement with the Olympic team signifies a greater commitment to Duke Basketball. It is no secret that Coach is aging. He is currently 66 years old. For anyone in the normal workforce this is a normal age to retire or consider retirement. However, Coach K has been quoted in saying that any coach of the Olympic team should be actively coaching in their sport. So, worried Duke Fans can rest easy. Krzyzewski’s commitment to USA basketball through 2016 is essentially a commitment to Duke for at least three more seasons.
One last point about Coach K’s Olympic career interfering with his Duke career: in 2010 Krzyzewski was working with the USA team and still managed to win a championship with Duke.
Now that his commitment issue has been settled, it’s time to talk strategy. Krzyzewski has said numerous times that coaching the Olympic team has made him a better coach. Yes, read that sentence again. It’s hard to believe that a coach that great can get better, but it shows. Take a look at Duke’s offensive style over the past few years. Since Krzyzewski’s involvement with the USA team, Duke Fans see more of an NBA style of offense at Duke. This means more pick and roll situations, and more one on one guard play. This, combined with Duke’s previous offensive style, has made the team more dangerous and difficult to guard.
Finally, Coach K is spending his summers hanging out with the big guns of the NBA. All of which praise him every chance they get. This makes the already cool Coach K even cooler. It gives him a certain swag, if you will. This new swag has gotten Krzyzewski to land some big time recruits that he would miss out on in the past. Kyrie, Rivers, and Parker were the type of high profile recruits that would pass on Duke for a more NBA style of play. Now that Krzyzewski has Lebron, Kobe, Durant, and just about every other big star in the league proclaiming that he is the greatest coach in the world, these types of recruits want to come play at Duke.
So Duke Nation, stop being selfish. Do not complain about Coach K spending his time with the Olympic team. On the surface it seems as though it could be hurting the team, but it’s what is on the inside that counts. Krzyzewski is still as involved as ever, learning more (scary thought for other teams), and yes even increasing his #swag. His Olympic involvement helps this team astronomically, and does not hurt them one bit. I would like to point out that two years after his last Olympic games he won the National Title. He is two years removed from his most recent games now. Let’s cross our fingers for the same results.