By Rob Mahoney
After two Olympic gold medals and a win at the FIBA World Championship, Mike Krzyzewski -- Team USA coach and ambassador for a rebooted USA Basketball program -- expressed a pretty clear preference to pass the torch. But according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, USA Basketball officials remain hopeful that they can coax one more round out of the man who assembled and motivated a trio of teams to reclaim America's international basketball dominance.
USA Basketball will not name its next men's national team coach until after the college season is over at the earliest, according to sources familiar with the process.
One key motivation for adopting that revamped timetable, sources told ESPN.com, is to give Duke's Mike Krzyzewski as much time as possible to consider carrying on as Team USA coach.
However, Krzyzewski told ESPN.com's Andy Katz this week that "nothing has changed with anything."
"(USAB) is not going to make a decision until the summer," Krzyzewski told Katz. "Nothing has changed with me. Usually in these situations, they don't do it while basketball season is going on. Nothing has changed. Right now, obviously -- I love USA Basketball -- but I'm trying to keep my head above water with my own team."
Stein goes on to cite Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers as the front-runners for the job should Krzyzewski pass, and he even includes Doug Collins and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo among the candidates. Noticeably missing from that list: Team USA assistants Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan. D'Antoni has systematically tarnished his relationship with three Team USA fixtures (Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony), while McMillan isn't coaching in the NBA this season. It makes plenty of sense to opt for Popovich or Rivers (both of whom are fantastic candidates) to succeed Krzyzewski should that need soon arise, but it is a bit surprising that a program that so values continuity wouldn't consider elevating one of its two lead assistants. Regardless, USA Basketball will apparently wait on Krzyzewski, who has his hands full at the moment with the No. 4 team in the NCAA. As helpful as it might have been from a logistical standpoint to have a firm commitment on a coach for the next round of competition by the end of 2012 (USA Basketball's original targeted mark, per Stein), there's really no rush; Team USA is due for a relatively inactive summer marked by preliminary process. The coaching ability and presumed talent of the roster are so high in any case that there are really no wrong decisions. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo will ensure that the program is in good hands, and either Krzyzewski or his replacement will have the enviable opportunity to coach a roster of the world's best players come the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the next round of summer Olympic Games in 2016.