Coach K Wednesday Press Conference

Coach K has returned to Durham after finishing up his first round of commitments with USA Basketball

Opening Statement
It's been an incredible summer; a month and a half of working with great people. We had a really young team but I was very impressed with their commitment and the fact that they made a three-year commitment to doing this. I'm not sure people really understand how big of a commitment it is for those guys; their careers are not that long and to say that you're going to spend three summers doing that, it's a big commitment. They were very, very good. I had an incredible staff and all the people from the NBA and USA Basketball, we were able to start the beginnings of a culture, of a program, where everybody felt a part of it. Although we did not win the gold medal I thought we played really well and we represented our country extremely well. I was really happy with the strides we made and you could see the respect from other countries for us. We had numerous people throughout our time in Korea, China and Japan say how much they appreciated United States basketball. To me, while the lowest point of the trip was when we lost to the Greeks, the highest point was also during that game. When we were coming back and making some really good plays and showing heart, all the people in the stands were cheering for the United States. We have to understand that in order to build a program, it takes a little bit of time. We're there and I think we made effective use of the time. The premise upon which we built this whole thing was to give respect to the game. To accept others games for the beauty at which they play it, just like they accept the NBA game. Then we're all on the same page and looking at basketball as something beautiful in all situations. I think everybody learned a lot about the international game. We're going to have to really prepare well and always be on top of it if we want to win. I think we were on top of it; we just couldn't close that deal yet. Our hope is that we'll be able to be in that position to close deals all the time. Hopefully we'll have continuity where a good portion of these guys will be on the Olympic team. Over a four-year period maybe some of these guys who are younger will be the older guys so there will be that continuity. That's the vision of what we're trying to do and I think it's going in that direction.

On the differences of coaching at the collegiate level and coaching at the professional level:
I really enjoyed it; it's definitely different. When you haven't recruited a player, a player isn't coming into your culture; rather, a player is coming into no culture. Everyone is just coming together. I feel like we all made adjustments to make sure we had great morale and we did. Now going forward, we have to see how that culture is going to be. I immensely enjoyed coaching them. They gave their best; they all had good attitudes and saying that, I'm happy with what I'm doing in coaching the Duke team. I have no great desire to coach in the NBA but that doesn't mean these guys aren't great. I love what I do and you should do what you love to do if you have a chance.

On appreciating and adjusting to the national game:
There's a greater appreciation. There is a lot of good basketball going on throughout the world and we would be arrogant to think that we're the only ones who can play good basketball. That's what we tried to show. The main differences for our guys was that, in the last couple years in the NBA they don't allow so much physical contact and are trying to make it more of an offensive game, and the international game is a 180-degree difference. Those are their rules and we have to adjust to that instead of saying, you can't do that, that's not the way we play. It's not that our guys can't play like that, it's that they're not used to playing that way so they can't use it to their advantage as much. These are not excuses. These are adjustments. It's a beautiful game it's just that it's different in that regard.

On the learning experience at this stage in his career:
It was good. I talked to the team about this. For me it was a new environment and in my environment that I'm in all the time as the Duke coach, I'm usually very successful and I have a routine that equals a pretty high level of success. So then you go into this and you find out it takes you places that you haven't been before, good and bad. It was good for me to do that at this time in my career and I think I'm better for it because you can't just rely on your reputation and your routine to get you something if there's something else that has to be there. I think that happened to everyone on our trip. It gives you greater empathy for what a player goes through in adjusting to these types of things. You learn about the game. That's what I love about all the people in this process. It's all being done for the right reasons and that's why I think it'll be successful.

On standardizing the rules across all three games:
I don't know how motivated the world would be to change that game since they're winning in that game. The lane, the physicality of the game, the 40 minutes, the ball; we had to adjust. I thought the officiating was very good. We didn't lose because of officiating. I don't see that happening as long as we haven't won the championship.

On the USA having an advantage in basketball:
We have more quality and I think we have more athleticism. We are falling behind on how we teach the skills of the game just because the world doesn't have NCAA rules. If my guys worked out yesterday, I could spend an hour with three four-man groups and then we can't do that again until tomorrow. In Spain or in Italy right now guys of that age probably put in four to six hours of different things that they're doing. There should be a way of figuring this out better. Somehow international players' skill development didn't keep them from becoming good men and getting an education. They were able to do that and we have limits that are placed on our kids.

On what he plans to apply to his future Duke teams:
I'm excited to be with them. I am a little tired but I'm very enthusiastic. I think some of the offensive concepts that I saw were pretty good and we'll incorporate some of them as soon as I get to know my team better to see if those concepts fit. Defensively, I don't know how much I'll use. I think we do a good job defensively. There might be a few tweaks, like in how we sub people. I just talked to my staff this morning about trying to take a few things each day and talk about what we liked and how it might apply to our team. It's not just learning from them, you learn from the guys on your staff.

On adjustments:
Nobody in their preparation can say everything I prepared for is the right way. I do think that the selection process is good; whether they pick the right team or the right coaching staff is always up in the air. To have people commit for this long is good. I think the trip was a little bit too long in that we were trying to do a bunch of different things. I sensed that we weren't as sharp mentally as we all could have been. That's part of learning; I would change that a little bit. I don't think we would travel as much so we could get more stability. I think going into the Olympics we don't travel that much and we won't be together as long. We can get more done. I think now that we know a lot of the guys we have to take a look at if we bring everyone that's on the roster, or do you say we're bringing these 15 guys so that you can get right into your system.

On simulating the international game:
A lot of them will know. Some suggestions were to take American players who are in Europe and bring them to wherever and scrimmage them but I don't think that simulates it. I think you have to go and do it. A real good thing about having to go through the qualification process is that we'll play 10 games in 12 days next summer. That's the best way of learning. Then if you have veterans, it increases your chance for success I think.

On having to play on next summer's squad to play in the Olympics:
I would say yes but I'm not the guy who makes that decision. Personally I think that has to be there because you can't have people just showing up for the Olympics. We have a chance to bond as a team even more so when we go to the Olympics we're already a team and are more like the other countries. The guys on our team were really good guys; they became friends, you get to know them. Until we got to Tokyo, that whole trip, no one had family or friends with them so it was a good bonding process. Unless there was an injury or something, I would think that you would have to participate next summer in order to represent our country in the Olympics.


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