Tag: Coach K

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Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski heaps praise on Kobe Bryant


Coach Mike Krzyzewski has a special bond with Kobe Bryant.

These are two men who bring something special to the basketball court, and part of that is a fighting spirit. They were friends before, but that bond grew during the Olympics when for a few years (particularly in Beijing in 2008) it was Kobe’s team, and guys such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade learned about the dedication needed to win from him.

The Duke head coach was on Time Warner Sportsnet in Los Angeles Friday (that’s the Lakers’ high paying cable channel) and heaped praise upon Kobe. Ryan Ward of the Lakers Nation saw it and passed along the highlights.

Krzyzewski also believes this will not be Kobe’s last season, that if Kobe is healthy he will continue playing. That is certainly possible, although there are few superstars who have ever been better prepared for life after basketball than Kobe. When he leaves, he will leave, there will be no Jordan with the Wizards moment.

What Coach K talks about is something I have mentioned before and will say a lot this season — about Kobe, about Tim Duncan, about Kevin Garnett — we need to savor watching these guys. A great generation of players, some of the best of all time and groundbreakers, are about to hang up their high tops. (Yes, I know Kobe wears low tops now.) Watching what Kobe, Duncan and KG do is special, and if you’re a fan of the game soak it up now while you still can, because soon it will be gone.

Coach K complains about one-and-done rule. Shocking.

Michigan v Duke

Know this about Mike Krzyzewski — he likes to be in control of things. He may not be obsessive and overbearing about it like some coaches, but he likes things done his way.

And when it comes to college basketball and the one-and-done rule, he has no control. Nobody does. John Calipari may have figured out how to best use the system, but even he says he doesn’t like it.

Coach K was on The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City and had this to say about the state of the game (via Sports Radio Interviews).

“First of all college basketball doesn’t control college basketball. The NBA controls college basketball. They are the ones along with the players union that sets the rule. College basketball just reacts to what the NBA does to include the early entry date. College basketball put out April 10th. Well that date doesn’t mean anything. April 29th is when guys have a chance to put their names in the NBA draft. I think one of the main things that has to happen is college basketball has to have a relationship with the NBA. There should be someone in charge of college basketball who on a day-to-day basis sets an agenda for our great sport. We don’t have anything like that. As a resolve we don’t have a voice with the NBA or the players union and that’s just kind of sad.”

For the record, he’s not wrong here. College presidents and colleges would come down on the same side here as the NBA owners — they all want to extend this to two or three and done. That’s good for the coaches, good for the universities’ pocketbooks, good for the NBA owners and teams that get longer to scout and evaluate young players.

But for me, it comes back to this — if you are good enough to be in the NBA at age 18, why shouldn’t you be allowed to? Because NBA owners and their scouts sometimes make bad choices on high school players? Because other kids get bad advice and come out when they shouldn’t? So the truly talented and ready should be punished because other people screwed up? Nice system there.

Nobody likes one-and-done. I still like the college baseball system (you can be drafted out of high school — and I think you shouldn’t lose your elegibility if you work out for teams and test the waters — but if you go to college you are there three years). But that is not perfect and the NBA owners don’t like it.

The age limit got pushed aside during the NBA’s lockout, a committee is supposed to take it up later. But in the end they will probably just leave it at one year as the compromise nobody likes.

Especially Coach K.

LeBron backs Popovich as potential USA Basketball coach

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors

After the USA earned a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics, Mike Krzyzewski was brought in by Jerry Colangelo to help turn things around. He was one coach who is universally respected among players and is seen as kind of “above the fray” of the politics that can go into picking an Olympic team.

The USA won gold in Beijing and will be favorites heading into London this summer. But what happens if Coach K decides to walk away after a decade at the helm? Who should coach Team USA in Brazil in 2016?

LeBron James is down with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, he told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida.

“Absolutely,” James said when asked by FOX Sports Florida about that possibility. “He knows the game. He knows the players. And he’s coached enough stars at San Antonio. I think he’d be great (as Olympic coach). If Coach K decides he doesn’t want to do it any more, I think Coach Popovich would be a great candidate. His resume speaks for itself.”

Good luck getting Popovich to speculate on things like that.

“I don’t even think about stuff like that,” Popovich said before a 120-98 loss to the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I just worry about tonight.”

It’s a long way off and the commitment would have to include the 2014 FIBA World Championships. But it’s not out of the question. And if the goal is to find a coach universally respected by players, you’d be hard pressed to find someone better than Popovich.

Consider USA, Spain favorites for 2012 London Olympics

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
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There are 298 days left until the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.

We, as Americans, expect a gold medal in basketball as our birthright, as we expect inexpensive gasoline and a well-grilled steak. To make sure we get what we want, USA Basketball will be sending its big guns — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, etc. — and America will be the prohibitive favorite in London.

But a year out, who is our biggest threat?

Spain primarily, but once we get to the one-and-done part of the tournament, a few teams can be scary. There’s a fantastic breakdown of what to expect next July over at The Painted Area today (one of the best sites for international hoops opinions), where they talk about Spain coming off its European championship.

MVP Juan Carlos Navarro was in full La Bomba mode during the knockout round, but it’s Pau Gasol who is the lynchpin for this side. Pau easily led the EuroBasket with a whopping 36.9 PER (20 and 8 on 54% FG in 26 minutes per game).

While the return of Pau was essential for Team España, the addition of newly naturalized Serge Ibaka was an intriguing personnel game-changer for Spain. Ibaka, who was a force in the gold-medal game with five blocks in 21 minutes, adds a welcome dose of athleticism. The equation of Gasol brothers plus Serge might well equal the best rotation of bigs in London, depending upon the frontline players Team USA is able to assemble.

We have talked about this before — when Coach K sits down to assemble this version of Team USA, he is going to have to account for the size and athleticism of the Spanish front line. Playing Dwight Howard at the five then Carmelo Anthony at the four will not cut it against the Gasol brothers.

Everyone goes into the Olympics expecting a Spain vs. USA gold medal rematch from 2008.

Who can spoil that party? How about France? They have Joakim Noah to play defense in the paint but they were able to score during EuroBasket as well.

Certainly, the return of Tony Parker after a year off was critical to the French offense. Parker was the best guard in the tourney, averaging 22.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.7 steals in 35 minutes per game. Also, Nic Batum delivered a fine EuroBasket, averaging 13.8 points and 2.0 steals with 53.5% FG in 31.5 minutes, an improvement on his play in Turkey in 2010 (12.5 points and 1.3 steals with just 42.9% FG in 28.5 minutes). France still has room for improvement, as they could potentially add players like Ronny Turiaf, Roddy Beaubois or Mickael Pietrus to this year’s squad.

Argentina will make one last run at it with their golden generation of Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and others. This is a team that is more seasoned and has played together longer than anyone else in London, and they are a threat.

Brazil will be right in there too. They came in second at FIBA Americas behind Tiago Splitter and a bunch of guys you don’t know (and you may not no Splitter all that well as Gregg Popovich kept him on the bench plenty last season). But they can add Nene, Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao, which will make them a threat.

Go read the entire Painted Area post. There are teams like Lithuania and Russia could be a threat in a one-and-done scenario.

That said, we’re Americans and basketball is our sport. We expect our gold medal and we don’t really care how we get it.

USA Basketball remains unimpressive, undefeated with 92-57 win over Tunisia


Kryzewski_USA.jpgOnly USA basketball can win a game by 35 points and not impress doing it.

But that was the case with the USA’s 92-57 win over Tunisia. The USA exits FIBA World Championship pool play 5-0 and is now off until Monday when it will take on Angola in the round of 16 — the first of the one-and-done knockout rounds.

Undefeated or not, the USA did not impress Thursday. If this were a high school team, their next practice would be filled with running suicides. Then, while the team stood bent over gasping for air on the baseline with hands grabbing shorts, Coach K would walk out to the free throw line, try to find the words, just shake his head and say “again” then blow his whistle.

The issues were really in the first half, when the USA’s recent trends of a stagnant half-court offense, questionable shot selections and turnovers plagued them. The USA took a lot of threes early in the clock and went 0-8 from deep to start. The offense was listless at best. A fired up Tunisian team was playing its best and they hung around. The score was 19-13 USA after one and 39-33 at the half.

The USA has become dependant on their pressure defense to create turnovers and easy transition basket. Which is fine, but there is no steady Plan B to fall back on. When a team like Tunisia comes in and can withstand the pressure without sloppy turnovers, the USA starts to struggle to score.

In the first half, Kevin Durant was the exception, scoring 9 of the USA’s first 11 points on his way to 14 points.

Another issue — Tunisia had 20 offensive rebounds in this game. That
would be 38 percent of their missed shots where they got a second
chance. Rebounding is about desire, and the fact the Tunisia got the
boards talks to the focus and motivation Team USA had for this one.

The second half was more traditional USA blowout, with the defense forcing turnovers and an open floor for the USA’s superior athletes to run wild.

Eric Gordon looked very good for the USA, dropping 21 points. He has been a bit spotty after a very strong opening game (and training camp) for USA basketball, but he was back for a half against Tunisia. Russell Westbrook added 14 and Steph Curry had 13, as the USA bench guards had a good day.

The USA has three days of practices now to right the offensive ship. Then they get a very winnable game against Angola on Monday. But after that it’s going to get tough — three games from a gold medal and it could be Spain followed by other top teams like Argentina and Turkey.

If the USA plays in those games like it did in the first half against Tunisia, it will not be undefeated any more.