LAS VEGAS - The Duke Blue Devils have a long history of success in international basketball competition dating back to 1964 when Jeff Mullins became the first Blue Devil to play for and win a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic basketball team. Since that initial appearance, Duke players and coaches have competed on the international stage over 120 times, winning 64 medals along the way.
Blue Devil players and coaches have accounted for 36 gold medals in international competition through the years including three from Elton Brand and three from Mike Krzyzewski as a national team head coach. Former Duke standouts Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, Carlos Boozer, Tommy Amaker and Cherokee Parks each have two gold medals through international competition.
Mullins, Tate Armstrong (1976), Christian Laettner (1992), Grant Hill (1996) and Carlos Boozer (2008) each have Olympic gold medals, while Krzyzewski was an assistant coach on the 1992 gold medal team and captained the 2008 championship squad. Former Blue Devil standout and assistant coach Johnny Dawkins was also a part of the staff for 2008 Olympic team.
Krzyzewski has been a part of 11 medal winning USA Basketball teams beginning with a gold medal as an assistant coach at the 1979 Pan American Games. He has been a part of seven gold medal winning teams as well as two silver medalist and two bronze medalist programs over the past 31 years.
Duke's consistent presence on the international scene is evident by the program having at least one current or former Blue Devil compete on a USA Basketball team every year since 1988.
"Usually the Duke players have been pretty well schooled fundamentally," said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. "They have been well coached and really understand what it takes to be successful and what it necessitates in the way of work so it is really good bloodlines."
In late August, head coach Mike Krzyzewski will begin his quest for a fourth gold medal, while associate head coaches Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, director of basketball operations Chris Spatola and video coordinator Kevin Cullen will also be working with the team in some capacity.
Over the past five-plus years, Krzyzewski has played a vital role in a resurgence of U.S. Basketball on the international level, while also repairing a tarnished image of the program. By stressing the same team-first principles he uses as the foundation for success at Duke, Coach K helped build a program that achieved its ultimate goal by claiming the 2008 Olympic gold medal and gained as much attention for its patriotic endeavors off the court as it did for its on-court success.
Since being named USA Men's Senior National Team coach on Oct. 26, 2005, Krzyzewski has guided the program to a 36-1 (.973) record with gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship. In that same span, Coach K has also led the Blue Devils to 147 wins, the 2010 NCAA Championship and three ACC Tournament titles.
When USA Basketball announced Krzyzewski would return as the head coach of the USA Basketball Senior National Team on July 21, 2009, Colangelo was quoted as saying: "When you have a good thing going you don't mess with it. We accomplished a great deal last quadrennium and we want to keep the ball rolling in the right direction. Mike and the staff did an incredible job last quad, and he is more than entitled to have another run at it. I've said it over and over, he was the right guy at the right time and that is still true."
When Krzyzewski leads the National Team into competition at the 2012 London Olympics, he will become the first U.S. coach of multiple Olympic teams since the legendary Henry Iba, who won gold in 1964 and 1968 and coached the team that lost the controversial 1972 gold-medal game to the Soviet Union.
"It was a huge honor to be selected as the USA National Team coach the first time," Krzyzewski said on July 21, 2009. "It is still a huge honor. The upcoming three years will be a new experience and hopefully, it will be as rewarding. I am really looking forward to representing our country again."
With Krzyzewski at the helm of the USA National Team for two more years and Duke's tradition of producing players that exemplify the new standard of teamwork and excellence on and off the court that USA Basketball has adopted, the relationship between the two programs will continue to blossom into more championship success on the collegiate and international levels.