When will the coaching staff head out to being their duties for Team USA?
Chris Collins, Duke Associate Head Coach: The training camp for Team USA begins out in Las Vegas on July 5th and will run through the end of the Olympics on August 12th. The staff members who will be part of the Team USA program are Coach Krzyzewski, Coach Wojciechowski, and myself. We are all looking forward to chasing another Gold Medal.
With the head coach and two associate head coaches on the road for more than a month, how does this impact the recruiting calendar?
None of us (K, Wojo, and Collins) will be able to be on the recruiting trail in July, so Jeff Capel and Nate James will be the guys manning the road for us at that time.
This is your second time around coaching Team USA. Knowing a bit more of what to expect, what are you looking forward to the most?
For me, being able to represent your country as a player of coach in an Olympic Games is such an incredible experience. To do that for a second time is amazing. Obviously, the main thing I am looking forward to is pursuing another Gold Medal. We have had a lot of success in our last two major competitions and we have a lot of continuity with our staff and makeup of the roster, so hopefully we can keep it going through London.
Professionally, what are the main benefits you take away from something like this?
As a young coach, being around so many terrific coaches and players is such a great learning experience for me as well. It's like being at a Coaches Clinic everyday. Sharing ideas and learning different philosophies from coaches all over the World, has made me a better coach in so many ways.
Given that you're coaching the best players the USA has to offer, what are the differences you see when running a Team USA practice compared to a Duke practice?
Coaching a team in the summer, consisting of players that have just played such a grueling shortened NBA schedule, changes the way you have to approach practices. We won't be afforded the opportunity to have the same kind of practices that we have during our season at Duke. We have to be sensitive to doing too much. We still practice hard and make sure that we get our work and preparation in, but the main thing with these guys is to keep them fresh and ready for the games. When we do practice, many of the same principles that we teach at Duke carry over to Team USA. We stress communication on the court, team defense and playing together on the offensive end. We have to get a lot of shooting in our Team USA practices, so the players can adjust to playing with the International ball.
Duke recruited several of the players in the Team USA pool. Are there one or two guys who may have gone elsewhere for college that you really look forward to working with now?
Its really tough to single out 1 or 2 guys. Every guy has been great. It has been amazing to get to know the players and see firsthand what makes them great. We have been able to bring back so many stories to our Duke guys to tell them about different players workout routines, leadership styles, and commitment to greatness. The way these guys work and study the game to stay at the top of the sport is incredible. Having had pretty much too completely different teams from 2008 in Beijing to 2010 in Istanbul, has given us a chance to connect with a lot of different players at different ages. From Jason Kidd, who I played with at the McDonald's game in 1992 to Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, who are in their early 20's, that's the part that has been a lot of fun.
What's the biggest adjustment for you when dealing with NBA players compared to college?
To me, there hasn't been a big adjustment dealing with NBA players. I firmly believe that no matter what level a player is at, that player wants to be coached. The guys we have had throughout the last six years have all embraced Coach K and have wanted him to coach them.
What about strategy? It seems like the International rules could cause some issues there after guys play an entire NBA season?
I think the toughest challenge that Coach K had initially was more strategically, mostly getting our guys to understand the way the International game is played. There are so many differences from the NBA rules to the International rules. No illegal defense, the physicality of the game, a different ball, and only 40 minute game are just some of the examples. We have had to work hard to adjust our habits to be successful in the International game.