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Coach K was surprised Kevin Durant left Team USA

Kevin Durant ThunderCoach K says he was surprised Kevin Durant decided to leave Team USA last week because of physical and mental fatigue.

“Yeah I was,” Krzyzewski said after Team USA’s practice in Chicago on Thursday via ESPN Chicago. “No question. I was.”

Coach K says the team built its offense around Durant, who is the NBA’s reigning MVP and won four of the last five scoring titles.

“It’s one of those things, you don’t replace Kevin Durant,” Krzyzewski said. “You look different. And so we have today and [Friday] to look different before we play a really good team. That’s of concern for me because we were pretty far along. We had our best camp ever in Vegas since I’ve coached [Team USA]. Those guys were terrific. We had more in [game plan-wise] but we had more in to play a certain way. And then Kevin deciding not to play … it’s concerning. But hopefully we’ll be good enough on Saturday and then we use New York and Grand Canaria to get better and get better during pool play.”

Durant’s Team USA teammates were surprised by his decision to pull out late in the process. Team director Jerry Colangelo also said Durant’s decision to pull out was contractually related.

“But he found himself in a situation where he had no choice … in terms of his contractual situation,” Colangelo said.

Durant doesn’t become a free agent for two years, so I’m not sure why his contract would be an issue. Does he not want to get hurt before he finalizes an endorsement deal, perhaps with Under Armour, which is a rival sponsor to Team USA’s Nike? Or did he simply just get spooked after the Paul George injury and pull out as a result?

Probably only Durant knows the answer to that, but we do know his decision altered Team USA’s plans.

Coach K would trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love without hesitation

Kevin LoveOpinions on whether the Cleveland Cavaliers should trade Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love have been split. On one side, you have the people who believe Wiggins is a rare prospect who could eventually be one of the best players in the NBA. On the other, the argument is that Love is already an All-Star and you know what you are getting with him. Duke and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski belongs to the latter group.

During an interview with John Feinstein on CBS Sports Radio Monday, Coach K said he would make the trade “right away” if he were running the Cavs.

“I think there’s absolutely not one second of hesitancy,” Coach K said. “I’d trade for Kevin Love. That’s not saying anything about any of the other (players involved in the deal). Love’s an All-Star. He’s a double-double guy, but he’s a double-double guy that can spread the court. There aren’t many double-double guys, if any, who spread the court. He can go inside and outside.”

Krzyzewski, who has coached Love with Team USA, also brought up a point that I agree with — LeBron is pushing 30 and isn’t exactly a young player anymore.

“You look at LeBron and you have the best player in the world,” Coach K added. “He’s 29. I’m not saying he’s at the end of his career, but he’s in the second half of his career, let’s put it that way. And in the first half of his career, he was becoming a great player. He was a great talent becoming a great player. That takes time – just like if Wiggins or (Anthony) Bennett are going to be great, it’s not going to happen right now. They’re great talents. LeBron is a great player right now. You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career.”

As I mentioned before, the Cavs would only regret dealing Wiggins for Love if it didn’t turn into a championship. If Cleveland wins one or two titles with LeBron and Love and Wiggins becomes Kobe Bryant, there would be no regrets. The Cavs have never won an NBA championship, so any trade they make that helps them win one is worthwhile.

Assuming the Cavs are willing to include Wiggins in a potential Love trade, it is probably the Timberwolves that are holding up the deal. Now that they have gotten the offer they want from Cleveland, an even more aggressive bidding war for Love is taking place.

H/T Eye on Basketball

Coach K on LeBron James’ decision to go back to Cleveland

Coach K hair

Coach K weighed in on LeBron James’ decision to leave the Miami Heat to return home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Team USA basketball coach is a fan.

“LeBron has a huge heart. This decision is a great decision for him because he’s following his heart and he loves his home. And what a great thing. He’s giving up an incredible family that he developed in Miami. That was a huge decision. And it showed to me how much he loves that area and the people in that area. I’m so happy that he’s doing what he wants to do. It’s an incredible decision by an incredible guy.”

Mike Krzyzewski has been the head coach of USA Basketball since 2005. LeBron helped lead the team to gold medals at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012. Coach K also presented when LeBron James received Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman Of The Year Award in 2012.

Coach K all class after loss, visits Mercer locker room

Coach-K-Mercer-locker-room

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski did not expect to be heading back to North Carolina before the first weekend of the tournament. The Blue Devils ran into an experienced and hungry Mercer team, and the end result was what could very well go down as the most shocking upset of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Say what you will about Coach K, but he loses with class.

Immediately after his team’s 78-71 loss, Coach K visited the Mercer locker room to congratulate the Bears on a hard-fought victory.

“If we got beaten, at least we got beaten by a hell of a basketball team,” Coach K told the Bears, per USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach.

Krzyzewski had more high praise for Mercer during his postgame press conference.

“I want to wish Mercer the very best,” he said. “I love the game, and when the game’s played really well — I hope it’s us that’s playing it — but when it’s the other team, you applaud it. I applaud Mercer. They were absolutely terrific today.”

The Blue Devils relied on 3-pointers all game long and knocked down 15 of them, but they couldn’t make enough down the stretch to get the job done. Coach K had to be incredibly disappointed and watching the opposition dance like fools probably didn’t help, but we applaud him for losing with dignity.

Photo: Twitter/Nicole Auerbach

Coach K: Duke getting all the calls is ‘old stuff’

Coach K technicalMike Krzyzewski says the notion that Duke gets all the calls is “old stuff” and an old narrative from the fans and media that really isn’t true.

Coach K joined “The John Feinstein Show” for an interview on Monday and was asked about the controversial final plays against Clemson on Friday night in the ACC Tournament. Duke got a 1-point win in the game after receiving a favorable call. Despite the call, Coach K says the Blue Devils don’t get all the calls the way many think.

“It’s like old stuff,” Krzyzewski told Feinstein. “I think when you win a long time – and we’re not a state school, so you don’t have a press corps protecting you a little bit – you’re out there. That goes with the territory. And not only that, but announcers and talk show hosts and whatever – they will not say anything about yesterday’s game.”

Krzyzewski then began to talk about the free throw disparity between them and Virginia in the ACC Tournament championship game.

“And again, Virginia played better than we did. But obviously there were 38 free throws to 11. There were things that if you’re trying to homer for somebody, you could homer. And we don’t get that at all. Ever.

“So that does get old. But you know what? I’m not going to start losing – or try to start losing – to get away from that.”

That’s funny. Coach K suggesting he start losing to martyr himself for the cause.

Duke was called for 28 fouls compared to 15 for Virginia and went to the line 3.5 times less, as he mentioned. But Duke still gets favorable calls. Come on, Coach K, don’t even try to play that game. And I have no idea what he’s talking about when he says they don’t have a press corps protecting them. They have Jay Bilas, Jay Williams and Dookie V among others playing the favorites game with them at all times. I really don’t know what Coach K was trying to do with that example.

H/T Eye on College Basketball

Coach K got a technical foul for throwing his marker (Video)

Coach K technicalDuke coach Mike Krzyzewski is generally pretty well behaved as a coach, but he got a technical foul during the ACC Tournament championship game on Sunday for tossing a marker. Seriously.

The tech was called late in the first half and Coach K couldn’t believe it. Exasperated, he asked the officials what the tech was for and was told it was for throwing his marker at the end of a timeout.

The tech allowed Virginia to go to the free throw line, where they made both shots to go up 25-19.

Virginia won the game 72-63, giving them a split with Duke this season.

Coach K was pretty perplexed about the technical:

He called the technical foul “ridiculous” and “shameful,” according to the AP.

Coach K: Bulls will decide if Derrick Rose plays for Team USA

Derrick RoseDerrick Rose has had an incredibly difficult time remaining healthy over the past two years, so you would think international play would be out of the question for the Chicago Bulls superstar. Rose played in just 39 games during the 2011-2012 season, missed all of the 2012-2013 season and appeared in only 10 games this season. Despite that, Rose may play for Team USA.

Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters on Thursday that it will ultimately be up to the Bulls if Rose competes in the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer.

“We get information from all the clubs and we know that the most important thing for these guys is their health and what they’re doing with their parent teams,” Coach K said, via ESPNChicago.com. “And so our communication with the Bulls, or any organization, is straightforward and we’ll follow their guidelines.”

Rose tore his meniscus on Nov. 22 and has been ruled out for the season. Coach K is hopeful that playing in Spain will be part of the rehabilitation process for the 25-year-old.

“We’re all hoping that he’ll be part of the group that comes in there,” he said. “And then just because we haven’t seen him play to see how he’s doing. We’d never try to put him in harm’s way for his career. But if he’s ready, we’d welcome Derrick. Derrick’s one of the great guys, in addition to being an outstanding player. He’s a great team guy. And that’s why we want him part of USA Basketball.”

Rose said back in February that he is “all in” for Team USA if his leg is feeling healthy. He credits playing for Team USA as part of the reason he was able to win the NBA MVP award in 2011.

On one hand, the Bulls would like to see Rose get some live competition in given how little he has played over the past three years. On the other, they know how prone he is to serious injuries. Another knee injury could be devastating to his career.