Monday, September 1, 2008

Post-Olympics, Coach K pledges to savor his wins at Duke

After leading Team USA to a gold medal last month, Coach Mike Krzyzewski is pledging to "greet his [Duke] team's victories less with relief and more with sincere appreciation."

Coach K recently told the Associated Press:

"Sometimes being here at Duke, because we've been very, very successful ... [people] expect you to be perfect. They don't look at process anymore. It's like, 'What, we haven't gone to the Final Four? What, we didn't win the national (title)? Very spoiled, and it ruins it a little bit — really, a lot.

Part of that then becomes, you win, and sometimes you're just relieved to win. I'm not saying that it happens all the time, but it happens. At the end of that Spain game, most people would say, 'Weren't you relieved?' No, I wasn't. I was exhilarated. It was euphoric. It was the way it should be. That's the way it's going to be for the rest of my career here at Duke."

The experience in Beijing has also had an impact on Coach K's staff at Duke:

The Krzyzewski assistants who accompanied the U.S. team said they caught themselves picking the brains of Jim Boeheim, Mike D'Antoni and the other members of the staff, with Chris Collins calling it "like being in a coaches' clinic." And while there's little chance that Boeheim's noted 2-3 zone defense will show up at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, Collins said some of those coaches' principles could make their way onto the Blue Devils' chalkboard.

"Each one of the coaches brings such a wealth of knowledge to the table, and for a young coach to obviously be around Coach K every day is an amazing opportunity," Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski said. "But to be around some of the other top coaches in the world and be able to pick their brains and learn the game through their eyes is just a wonderful opportunity."

And his time with Team USA also made him a a better coach:

"Throughout this time, there have been sometimes articles, 'You should do this, you shouldn't.' There's no way that I shouldn't have done this. For Duke, for me, for our country, for the kids I coach. I'm a better coach to them, a better person as a result, and when I was coaching them, it was that we didn't go to the NCAA Final Four during the last two years because we had two young teams and we got beat. All of a sudden, there's a reason. 'Shame on you, you don't do that, that's wrong.' The people who wrote about those things, they were wrong."

"We're going to go after it, we're going to do it, and if (some student) doesn't go to the Final Four after their four years at Duke, then that's just too damn bad," he added. "But our team is going to have fun, is going to be representative and they're going to have the opportunity to grow just like our Olympic team did."