Coach K focuses on U.S. summer camp

Updated: June 28, 2010, 4:31 PM ET
Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. -- Mike Krzyzewski welcomed back a star who turned down the NBA. He also did the same thing himself -- as he has done several times through the years.

Since he won his fourth national championship, it's been an eventful summer for Coach K.

Nearly three months after cutting down the nets in Indianapolis, the 63-year-old Krzyzewski insisted he's feeling plenty refreshed as he prepares for the U.S. national team's training camp next month in Las Vegas.

"I'm on to the next thing, and the next thing is getting better as a basketball coach," Krzyzewski said Monday during his annual midsummer news conference. "You've got to get better each year, so the opportunity to coach the United States gives me an opportunity to get better. I'll coach this summer more than anybody in the United States.

"As long as I take my breaks and stay fresh, I think that's a good thing," he added. "You would want the guy defending you [in a courtroom] to get better in law. You would want the guy or woman treating you in health to keep up to date, and I think as long as you're in any profession, you should get better, because it's constantly changing."

Duke's title run that ended in early April "never wore me out," he said, because his seniors shouldered so much of the leadership burden.

"Last year's team was a team that, whatever you gave it, they gave back to you," Krzyzewski said. "So it wasn't an energy drain, like, 'Man, these guys don't get it.' They got it. ... We worked very hard, but there wasn't what I call couch time or motivational time. Our veterans took care of a lot of those things, either by talking or by setting an example. That's such a good thing. So at the end of the year, I was still very fresh."

As he looks ahead to 2010-11, he's counting on seniors-to-be Kyle Singler, the most outstanding player at the Final Four, and Nolan Smith to continue that trend. Singler opted not to enter the NBA draft early and returned for a final year with the Blue Devils.

Not surprisingly, Krzyzewski didn't leave either. He maintained his oft-repeated I'm-staying-at-Duke mantra despite pesky rumors that some NBA teams were interested in him -- particularly the Cleveland Cavaliers, who also pursued Tom Izzo for their vacancy before he opted to return to Michigan State.

Krzyzewski said he spoke to Izzo "a few days before everything hit," with the Spartans' coach, who asked how he handled his 2004 decision to turn down the Los Angeles Lakers' reported $40 million offer.

"He's about the same age [as Krzyzewski was] when I was considering the Lakers," he said. "I just told him, if he accepted it, they better pay him a lot of money before he knows about LeBron [James, the highest-profile pending free agent]. 'Whatever they're offering you, if you were going to take it with or without, they need to offer you more, with not knowing or you have to wait, because it's a different decision, obviously.' "

Of course, Krzyzewski has another chance to coach NBA players when he leads the U.S. national team later this summer at the FIBA world championships in Turkey. He said Singler and Smith will be among the roughly 20 college players who will head to Las Vegas to compete for a roster spot on the U.S. team.

He'll also prepare the Blue Devils for the scrutiny that comes with defending a national title, and sounds confident that they'll be up to the task -- especially freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, whom Krzyzewski hesitantly compared to Chris Paul because of "his toughness and his ability to change directions with the dribble."

But he didn't seem to take any added satisfaction in winning another championship, even though he clearly has hushed the critics who claimed that coaching the U.S. national team left him too little time to focus on the Blue Devils.

"I'm a basketball coach all the time. That's what I do. I don't play golf. I chase my dog, or he chases me, and I whack down some trees and bushes and play with my grandkids and drink a little bit of wine," a smiling Krzyzewski said. "I like to socialize, but I'm a basketball coach every day of my life."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press