On Thursday, USA Basketball and Mike Krzyzewski made official what had been reported for several days: Krzyzewski will be returning as head coach of USA Basketball through the 2016 Olympics. He will also lead the national team in the 2014 World Championships.
This is excellent news if you care about USA Basketball. Krzyzewski is 62-1 as head man for the U.S., with the only defeat coming in his first event, the 2006 World Championships, when the United States lost to Greece in the semifinals on the way to a bronze medal. Under Krzyzewski, the U.S. has won the last two Olympic gold medals. Judging from public comments from LeBron James and others, this is welcome news, and Krzyzewski fully commands the respect of the game’s elite.
What’s more interesting, at least to me, is whether this change of tune on Krzyzewski’s part will have any effect — positive or negative — on Duke basketball.
The creation of the American Athletic Conference was years in the making and, in the long term, will be good for college basketball. Plus, the conference is pushing “The American” as its shorthand designation, which provides every opportunity to link to Hulk Hogan’s seminal ’80s theme song. Really, there’s no downside here.
But what is the immediate impact of the league going to be?
Yesterday, CBS Sports’ @JonRothstein tweeted seven teams from the newly created league that could challenge for an NCAA berth in 2014. Whether he’s a little strong on his prediction or not, it seems pretty likely the league will grab at least four NCAA bids next season.
Likely still reveling in the aftermath of Andrew Wiggins’ commitment, Kansas added another potentially impactful piece Monday in Memphis transfer big man Tarik Black. Black, a graduate transfer who has one season left and is eligible immediately, will be expected to provide experience, rebounding and shot-blocking for a young-but-suddenly-really-talented Jayhawks team.
In theory, it sounds like an excellent fit. Kansas is returning Perry Ellis at power forward and has blossoming freshman seven-footer Joel Embiid coming in, as well as other frontcourt options like sophomore Jamari Traylor and redshirt freshman Landen Lucas. Still, Black has more college playing experience than that entire quartet combined. He was a very solid rebounder on the offensive end for Memphis all three seasons he was there, and was much improved last season on the defensive glass. Black’s shotblocking was considerably less pronounced last year, but he has a solid track record in that area over his career, as well. In sum, he should be able to help this particular Kansas team in those areas, and shouldn’t have to be asked to do more than what he is fully capable of doing.
ESPN.com’s Andy Katz had an interesting note in his 3-point Shot on Monday, detailing a conversation with Murray State head coach Steve Prohm. In it, Prohm suggested that the Racers could replace departing star point guard Isaiah Canaan with Zay Jackson, who missed all of last season after he was jailed following a parking lot road rage hit-and-run that was captured on surveillance camera.
In case you didn’t see the video when the incident happened last year, here it is:
The offer came to me via email a few weeks ago after it was announced that the highly acclaimed musical The Book of Mormon was having a return engagement in Denver. A select few tickets were available through a local theater group. My wife enjoys theater, and that show is supposed to be incredibly funny, so I was game for a nice surprise for my better half. The date: Nov. 12. Gulp.
Perhaps it’s because there appears to be a wonderfully large number of legitimate Final Four contenders for the 2013-14 season, but as schedules continue to come public, it feels like there are a ton of really compelling nonconference showdowns between elite teams. And one of the two dates that’s absolutely a must-watch evening is Nov. 12.