Luke Winn thinks that the lack of star power was the reason for the USA team finishing in fifth place at the Under-19 world championship in Riga, Latvia recently.
According to Winn, USA basketball invited 49 players and only 20 accepted. 29 players said no, including three players from Duke: Quinn Cook, Austin Rivers and Josh Hairston.
These three players could not have been expected to play for USA then come back and start practice early for a summer trip to China and Dubai.
Because of the trip, the NCAA allows Duke, or any team that qualifies for a foreign trip, an extra ten days of practice.
Duke has to implement five freshman for the coming season, so it was vital they started playing together, even if it meant pick-up games.
Rivers, the main the scorer for his winning high school team, recently admitted that he has to become a more defensive-minded player. That may be true especially in light of all the criticism high scoring BYU guard Jimmer Fredette took before the 2011 Draft.
Coach Krzyzewski agreed with Rivers.
"He's got to change," Krzyzewski said. "He's got to learn to become a complete player. For any freshman coming in, there's a huge difference in playing with older guys, more physical. It's a whole different thing."
The ten extra practices available to Duke will enable both coach and player to get accustomed to each other. Rivers is said to be extremely coachable, so this will not be an issue.
As for the USA team, coached by Paul Hewitt, tough luck really. They went undefeated in group play, but when it mattered most they lost, just like Hewitt's Georgia Tech teams.