Krzyzewski, Team USA embrace role as Olympic favorite
Posted July 15, 2012
Updated July 16, 2012
Despite being the best team on the planet and the one squad every country will want to knock off during London's Olympics, Team USA won't head overseas with any added pressure.
Thanks to head coach Mike Krzyzewski and a stable of experienced stars, the approach has been business-like during the team's organized practices in Washington, D.C.
"I wouldn't say it's a burden," Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant said Sunday. "We have a responsibility to be professionals, come to work every day with the right focus and the right frame of mind and try to bring back a gold medal."
For Krzyzewski, coaching a favored team is nothing new. It's been his life since he took the job at Duke University in 1980.
"I'm accustomed to that for the last 25 years at Duke," he said Sunday. "And I've been accustomed to it for the seven years I've been Team USA's coach. So we just go on with what we're supposed to do and try to win every game and every possession."
LeBron James said the players trust Krzyzewski's experience, a factor that helps a talented group come together in such a short time.
"People talk about chemistry with teammate, but it also has to do with coaches as well," he said. "We have a trust factor, we have chemistry, and it's going to help us go a long way."
If Team USA can complete the long journey and capture Olympic gold in London, Krzyzewski would become the first USA Basketball head coach to capture back-to-back gold medals since Hank Iba accomplished the feat in the 1960s.
Krzyzewski energized by time with Team USA
Another factor that will help Team USA in London is Krzyzewski's fire to win, an important part of his four decades of success at Duke and a desire that still burns bright for the head coach.
He said Sunday that being around some of the best players in the world energizes him as a coach.
"You get better doing this," said Krzyzewski. "You’re around these guys. There the best at what they do; they’re competing against the best. Somehow in that process, you have to be better."
"It’s been a great experience for him. For one, I think you get energized working with the best players in the world. He's had a chance at Duke to work with some great players, but these guys take it to the highest level," said Team USA coach Steve Wojciechowski.
"Being in this USA environment, being around these top players, it’s only reengerized Coach K even more. It hasn’t tired him out in anyway," said Team USA coach Chris Collins. "It gets him even more excited to go forward with our Duke program."
Coach K has called his time with Team USA the greatest honor of his career, and while he is on record saying this will likely be his last summer as head coach, he’s not planning on leaving Team USA altogether.
"I'll be involved. It’d be not a real smart thing not to have someone who's been involved like this for seven years not to have some input in the future," said Krzyzewski. "Because I’ve lived this, I have a feel for it."
Team USA is set for its final exhibition game in the States Monday when they play Brazil in Washington D-C.
This will be Coach K’s fourth Olympic games with Team USA, since he's also served twice as an assistant. And the U.S. has yet to win anything but gold with him on the bench.