Ask Team USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski the reasons behind his decision to lead the charge to London and you’ll get a straight answer.
“To have the opportunity to coach your country’s team is hard to even dream about,” Krzyzewksi recently told the media. “I had a great experience in international basketball in the eighties and in ‘92 I was an assistant with the dream team, so when I was given the opportunity to coach our Olympic team I jumped at it.”
Krzyzewski, who is expected to step down from the role after the upcoming Olympic Games, faced the press on Tuesday at the 2012 USOC Media Summit in Dallas.
One of the subjects that was bound to come up was the ACL injury to Chicago Bulls Guard Derrick Rose. The tear in his knee ligaments not only called a halt to his season but ended his chance of representing the US in London.
“I love Derrick,” Coach K boasted. “I think he is a great man. He helped us win a World Championship in Istanbul, he’s our starting point guard and I thought he grew a lot from that experience. He’s somebody that, in the future, I know will part of an Olympic team.
“He’s a team player, no one pushes the ball down the court any quicker than he does, he can be an outstanding defensive player and my heart goes out to him. It was a big loss for our team and hopefully the surgery he just had, one or two days ago, will prove to be very successful.”
The discussion also turned to how the 12-man roster will shape up. USA Basketball was already given an extended deadline to name their squad because of all the injury problems they are going through, so have until July 7 to get a confirmed list to FIBA and the IOC.
Lamar Odom, of the Dallas Mavericks, recently expressed his desire to become part of the Olympic roster.
“Lamar has been part of our pool, and all the guys who have competed are in equity,” Krzyzewski said of the decision making process. “He was our second-leading scorer in Istanbul and we would not have won the World Championship without him. I think, for most players there are certain things that can happen throughout their career; they’re not playing well or they’re hurt and we’ll get a chance to determine his status once we bring him in for training camp.”
Another part of an Olympic tournament that arouses great interest from the media and fans alike is which players will emerge as on-court leaders.
“Each team has a core group of leaders that you have to identify,” said Coach K. “Your key players have got to be the leaders. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were unbelievable for the Olympics; Chancey Billups, Lamar Odom and Kevin Durant were outstanding for the World Championships; and we have a chance to find out where that leadership comes from again in these Olympics.”