USA Basketball: Could Coach Cal Replace Coach K for the 2016 Olympics?
Mike Krzyzewski said Monday that he is not likely to return as the head coach of the United States men's Olympic basketball team after the 2012 games in London (via ESPN.com).
Since Krzyzewski became the head coach of the men’s national team in late 2005, the team is 49-1 in international play.
Coach K's 2008 team won the gold medal in Beijing, and his 2012 team should be favored to do the same the same in jolly old England.
At some point in the near future, Jerry Colangelo, the director of USA Basketball, will have to start considering who will coach Team USA in the future.
Has Krzyzewski's success paved the way for another college coach to be selected to pick up his mantle?
If so, could John Calipari be the one that gets the nod to keep things going in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, four years from now?
Here are five reasons why Coach Cal could replace (or at least be considered to replace) Coach K as the next Olympic coach
5. Calipari Now Has a Championship Skin on the Wall
Lots of sports fans believe that a team, a player or a coach's success "don't mean a thing, if they ain't got a ring!"
Until Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA championship, all the No. 1 recruiting classes and regular season wins had not been enough to earn most college hoops fans' respect.
While some will always dismiss Calipari's accomplishments, others will see that he finally added an important item to his coaching resume: a national title.
The other college coaches that have won Olympic gold medals in the last couple decades besides Coach K, like Bob Knight and Dean Smith, won their own NCAA championships.
Calipari has now removed that stumbling block and has moved into a different category of coaches because he has now cut down the most important nets in college hoops.
4. He Is a "Players-First" Coach
One of the aspects of John Calipari's coaching philosophy that makes people snarl is his "players first approach."
At Calipari's introductory press conference at Kentucky, he said,
“As a basketball coach, I don’t make a whole lot of promises — never have. But we make commitments. The commitment being, this will be about players first. I know how big this program is. But it’s only big because of the players who have gone through here. This program will be about players first. With a focus on helping them achieve their dreams, the players will drag everyone involved with the program where they want to be."
Many people have criticized his perspective. But, I have never heard a player bad-mouth Coach Cal's approach.
Why would they? He gladly puts them up on a pedestal.
If this has worked so well with up-and-coming college stars, don't you think that NBA superstars would respond to such positive reinforcement?
3. The Olympic Players Would Love Coach Cal's Dribble-Drive Motion Offense
John Calipari has made the "dribble drive motion" offense popular at both Memphis and now at Kentucky.
It is a perimeter-oriented strategy that features spreading the floor and penetrating off the dribble.
Whoever has the ball looks to get to the rack for lay-ups or to kick out to create three-point shots.
With players like LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and a host of others on the floor, this plan of relentless attack seems custom-made for uber-athletes like these.
2. Calipari Has a Unique Team-Building Skill Set
John Calipari has had huge success bringing lots of talent together quickly and getting them to play as a unit. He appears to be a team-building genius.
Calipari's expectations are simple:
1. Egos must be checked at the locker room door.
2. Defense before offense.
3. It doesn't matter who scores.
Because he has been so good at getting his elite-level players to buy in to these uncomplicated ideas, victories are a natural result of the combination of team and talent.
1. John Calipari Gets Things Done
By many sports fans, John Calipari is a symbol of all that is wrong with college basketball.
Twice before coming to Kentucky, Calipari has led two programs to the Final Four (Massachusetts in 1996 and Memphis in 2008), and both previous appearances had to be vacated.
Coach Cal wasn’t formally accused in either case.
But that's not to say that he walked away from either situation scot-free.
His detractors say he makes a mockery of the sport that he coaches by going after players that have no intention of staying in school or getting a degree.
Many think that his success is bad for college basketball.
His supporters, on the other hand, say that he is merely working within a system that he didn't create.
He was once described this way:
Put five guys in a pitch-black room where nobody knows where the doors are and say "Find a way out." John Calipari’s going to get out first. That’s why you go with him.
Calipari sets high goals and relentlessly pursues those goals until he eventually accomplishes them.
Players like playing for coaches who have a passion for winning.
Quite frankly, I don't think many of the current or future Olympic players would have a problem playing for Calipari in Rio in 2016.
Love him or loathe him, John Calipari gets things done. He does what coaches are supposed to do: win games.
I am neither a Kentucky fan or a Calipari supporter, but that's why Coach Cal could at least be considered to replace Coach K as the next Olympic men's basketball coach.