OT: Damaging Piece on Coach K from Adrian Wojnarowski

Submitted by MGoVoldemort on September 15th, 2014 at 11:18 AM
http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba-needs-to-pull-stars-from-usa-basketbal… This is a truly excellent piece on how Coach K has turned his position with the National Team into a Duke recruiting video, and how it's time to start using amateurs instead of pros in the international competition. Wojarnowski is a guy I enjoy reading because if he feels it necessary to write something like this, you can be reasonably certain that it is an issue, and there are no axes to grind on his end.



September 15th, 2014 at 11:19 AM ^

"As one Duke alumnus would tell you: There is a USA Basketball storefront selling patriotism and duty with a backroom reality that peddles the Blue Devils and Nike swooshes."

Wolverine 73

September 15th, 2014 at 11:29 AM ^

which was what I expected, since that is what we typically read about the sainted Coach K.  And yes, very interesting.  I always wondered why he kept coaching that team year after year.


September 15th, 2014 at 11:34 AM ^

That was actually a pretty interesting piece, I thought. Thanks for sharing.

I'll be honest - I never really thought about USA Basketball as that sort of a marketing opportunity for folks like Krzyzewski, but then it wasn't something I necessarily mulled over at great length. The end of the piece actually is what made me sit and think about what is really happening here perhaps:

So the NBA stars climbed onto the podium on Sunday night at the Palacio de los Deportes, and there was Mike Krzyzewski making his move to the far end, framing himself with the gold medalists. 

Yeah, I think I can guess who will - in the long term - get the most mileage out of that photo opportunity. That being said, if you can do this - and you can - why would you not? 


September 15th, 2014 at 11:41 AM ^

Hey just be happy Coach K took the job and not Izzo, Izzo has said he would love to take over when coach K steps down. It is the ultimate leg up in recruiting, you can talk to high school kids, while standing next to the greatest NBA players. While all the other coaches in college are forbidden from contact with those kids.


September 15th, 2014 at 11:49 AM ^

The proposed solution to the problem doesn't seem to go far enough. Using amateurs instead of pros in international competition is fine, but there needs to be a further step: banning current college coaches from coaching those teams. Why should a select few college coaches get that sort of access to top prospects? It clearly gives them an unfair recruiting advantage.


September 15th, 2014 at 11:57 AM ^

The fact that a high profile person would be on a board of a charity, regent to a public university, or coach USA Basketball in order to enhance their "real career" is pretty standard.  I'm not surprised at all.




September 15th, 2014 at 12:31 PM ^

Agreed. He is putting insane hours to coach a second team, and he gets a payoff on it. He coaches kids well and puts them in the league (when merited). This is all easily observed and seems fairly transparent, and no kid gets a raw deal. What's the big deal?


September 15th, 2014 at 11:57 AM ^

This seemed like nothing but ax grinding to me. He has one quote from an unnamed Duke alum and gives three examples of players who committed to Duke. But most of it reads like extremely uncharitable cynicism to me.


September 15th, 2014 at 12:15 PM ^

I believe the basis of the article to be accurate. His gig with USA basketball probably does help him with recruiting, but I hardly found the article to be a damaging piece for Coach K.

I don't know whether Wojnarowski holds any particular ill will towards Coach K, but this entire article seemed like a pretty agressive attack, with few sources or concrete examples to back up.

He claims Coach K's saying he wanted to step down was just a ploy to generate more attention, and cites Okafor, Winslow and Parker as guys Coach K landed without providing anything more than a couple of coincidences and a "strong belief from the basketball community"

I appreciate you posting it OP, its a good article and an interesting read. I want to believe this could help get things to change to remove the recruiting benefit Coach K has (maybe replace him with Beilein, that would be good), but I doubt this will affect Coach K in any way.


September 15th, 2014 at 12:05 PM ^

I don't hate Coach K (although I dislike Duke.) But as said above, using access and connections is pretty much SOP in every business. I'm not surprised in the least. The playing field is not level, but it never has been, and never will be.

O S Who

September 15th, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

I was thinking the exact same thing.  

this part from that section made me laugh as well:

"Well, the trip did something else, too: It gave the Duke coach unfiltered access to two of the best high school players in the nation. Florida's Billy Donovan was the under-19 head coach. Virginia's Tony Bennett and VCU's Shaka Smart were his assistants. They probably didn't need Krzyzewski's voice, but he probably didn't ask their permission, either."

"probably" means you have no idea whether that happened at all... not that it would matter anyways.


September 15th, 2014 at 12:33 PM ^

Noticed that too, but I guess that's a combination of HS and college kids, and I guess it would be hard to find a competent coach who could coach that combination of kids who isn't already a major coach.  I guess you could try to get an NBA head coach, but that might be a tough pull.

There is no reason a college coach is needed to coach LeBron James and Kobe Bryant; hell, roll out a retired former pro coach if you are worried about a current HC not being willing to coach them.  It's not like the international team needs much guidance beyond "beat these guys, badly."

snarling wolverine

September 15th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

The issue is that Donovan, in this role, gets to coach some HS players, some of them uncomiitted.  It gives him a direct advantage in recruiting.  Coach K's advantage is more a secondary, "Yeah I know LeBron" kind of thing.

I don't think it's that hard to find an under-19 coach.  It's basically an all-star team and the stakes aren't that high (who's ever watched the u-19 team play?).



September 15th, 2014 at 1:46 PM ^

I would agree that no current college coach should be allowed to coach any of the USA teams (or foreign national teams either). But more than one basketball recruiting analyst has commented today that other college coaches have, while on the recruiting trail, expressed their unhappiness with Krzyzewski coaching the national team. Here's one take, from Brian Snow:


September 16th, 2014 at 12:12 PM ^

  • 5/16/11: John Calipari accepts offer to coach Dominican Republic national team.
  • June 2011: Karl Towns, a sophomore at St. Joseph HS in Metuchen, NJ whose mother is Dominican, is named to the Dominican Republic U-17 team.
  • May 2012: Towns is called up to the Dominican Republic national team for Olympic qualifying.
  • 12/4/12: Karl Towns signs LOI with Kentucky.
  • December 2012: John Calipari resigns post as Domican Republic national team coach.

All just a coincidence of course. As Calipari says, his decision to coach there was really just about whether he could help Dominican basketball improve.



September 15th, 2014 at 12:30 PM ^

A good article, though obviously with a bit of spite added in.  Coach K has always walked on water in college sports, and while I'm sure he's cleaner than most big-name coaches, he's no saint.  As soon as I heard he was going to be the coach of the national team you knew he would use it to help recruiting, and so far it has been a boon.

Space Coyote

September 15th, 2014 at 2:11 PM ^

I don't really have a problem with this. First, if other coaches were given the opportunity they would certainly take it. Second, it's fairly clear that he's qualified to lead this team, based on the results. Third, it's fairly SOP in every other business model. Fourth, he has to put in a lot of extra hours to do this, that is hours that wear on him, and hours in the summer he isn't with the team, or out recruiting, or out scouting games, etc.

There is a trade off being made here. Likely that trade off is in Coach K's favor, but it's not like he's being allowed to recruit whenever he wants while everyone else has to sit at home. If we want to damage Coach K for things, trust me, there are much more obvious and objectively worse things that can be brought up in regards to the Duke program and how they manage to recruit some kids.


September 15th, 2014 at 3:14 PM ^

If we're going to hate Duke can't we atleast recognize that we've modeled our basketball team after Duke's? We recruit a lot of the same players. We go after a lot of the same high IQ, good family, highly skilled type of players. Both coaches have a well deserved reputation for trying to do things the right away. 

In the last 5-6 years we've had Horford, Dumars, Hardaway, Robinson. They've had Dawkins, Henderson, Nolan Smith, Curry, and Rivers. All sons of fathers that played in the NBA.

We both played an offense the relies heavily on threes, spacing, shooting, and skilled players that pass and but. We've both been criticed for not developing or utilizing big men.

Recently on paper we've both relied heavily on amazing offense with a mediocre defense for our success. Generally speaking both coaches preach playing the right way and running a great offensive system of individual one-on-one play?

So why do we hate Duke so much but love what Beilein is doing with the program? Just because they are successful and their coach is annoying looking? Aren't we better than that? Most the reasons people hate Duke boil down to ad hominem attacks. I know it's fun to hate Duke but if Beilen wins 4 championships in 20 years don't you think we'd become the next Duke?


September 15th, 2014 at 3:47 PM ^

Is a great man (and obviously, coach), but that's not to say this article doesn't make a very good point. It's favoritism on the part of USA basketball. It should rotate more often and be less focused on one college program, regardless of which program that is.


September 15th, 2014 at 5:18 PM ^

not a fan of Coach K at all but this article is about as cynical as could be.  Did the writer ever think that maybe the guys involved enjoy representing their country at the highest level?  It's not like those guys are required to participate in the event - they choose to because they want to.  For many of them it's their own chance to be a hero in their own country because it's not like people in all those countries are NBA fans.  

For what it's worth I was in Germany when Dirk and the Mavs were playing in the NBA finals and it wasn't even on TV or in the newspaper.  Nobody cared.  But here in Mexico where I live currently the FIBA tournament was a pretty big deal in a way that the NBA is not.  


September 16th, 2014 at 11:01 AM ^

Other countries are going to continue to use their pros, I think we should continue to use ours as long as they want to play. Everyone seems to enjoy representing their country, only pulling out due to injury concerns.