Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski arrived at Raleigh/Durham International Airport yesterday after leading the USA men’s basketball team to a gold medal in 2012 Olympic Games in London.
With his second consecutive Olympic gold medal, also winning as the head coach in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Krzyzewski spoke to the media at the airport, in addition to Blue Devil divers Nick McCrory and Abby Johnston, who separately earned medals in synchronized diving at the games.
Here are some highlights from Krzyzewski’s press conferences, courtesy of The Chronicle’s sports photography editor Elysia Su, whose photos from the event can be viewed in our post from earlier today.
On his reaction to winning, whether it was more excitement or relief:
“It’s more excitement, in the last couple minutes, I don’t think my reactions on the sidelines were out of relief. It was like, ‘Whoa, this is unbelievable.’”
On Duke basketball assistant coaches Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski’s importance to the success of the team as assistants in London:
“Having these guys is one of the changes we made in USA basketball. There was one practice—you have to be credentialed to get in—and most of the places we practiced you didn’t have to be credentialed. We had one practice and it’s Nate [McMillan, myself, Jim [Boeheim] and Mike [D'Antoni]. It was not good. We all had great ideas. It was like a bunch of old professors and we said do it, but it’s better to actually have someone else do it. So we’re trying to run the drills and the players are laughing. Chris Paul and LeBron pushed us out of the way and said ‘We know the drills. We’ll run them.’”
On the teamwork of the players on Team USA:
“Everybody worked as a team—the cooperation of our players was unbelievable. We were the most athletic [team], but the most together one, really. Our guys really got along.”
“It’s such an honor to win this thing and the way they won it makes it even better.”
“No country has ever won the Olympics, the world championships, then the Olympics three-in-a-row, so we’re all very proud of that.”
“We had five players who averaged double figures. [Kevin] Durant was the leading scorer, [Kevin] Love was the leading rebounder, actually LeBron [James] led us in assists and Chris Paul led us in steals. It was a team that did what it really needed to do to make it work. We looked real small out there at time—talented, don’t get me wrong.”
On the style of play, defenses and rebounding in international basketball:
“I wonder how many teams put a box-in-one on a team LeBron was on and he wasn’t the one, or Kobe [Bryant] wasn’t the one or Carmelo [Anthony] wasn’t the one.”
“We averaged 37 threes a game and made about 16 of them, and that was a key part. And I didn’t know this going in if we would be a good rebounding team and we ended up being a great rebounding team, averaging about 15 offensive boards per game. I think a large part of that is the long rebounds.”
On the unselfish nature of the players and Kobe Bryant’s 20-point second half against Australia to propel Team USA to the semifinals:
“One of the cool things about that game was Kobe was struggling a little bit and as soon as he hit that first shot—the whole bench, and these are guys who are so unselfish, said ‘shoot it’—then we got a steal and it was a 3-on-1 and he was about 25 feet away. ‘Shoot it!” And then he had about four threes in about 66 seconds.”
“They felt every shot their teammate shot was theirs.”
On repeatedly stating that this Olympics will be his last as the head coach of Team USA:
“I’m really sure. This is a huge a commitment. I thank Duke university, Dr. Brodhead, Kevin White, Joe Alleva before him for allowing me the opportunity to do this…. It’s time to pass the baton without letting it drop.”
On McCrory and Johnston’s success at the games and their commitment:
“The commitment an individual athlete has to make is outstanding. I’ve known Nick for a few years and Abby we’ve talked around the world championships a couple years ago and we’re following them during the Olympics. We can make a mistake, have a turnover and make up for it. When Abby and Nick are on their last dive and they have to hit it, they have to hit it. I can’t even imagine that pressure and for them to respond in the manner in which they did. It’s a lot better than what we did.
As a coach, Lebron and Kobe and those guys are doing it for me. Those two youngsters are doing it on their own against the world.”
Check The Blue Zone tomorrow for quotes from McCrory and Johnston, who also spoke to the press.
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