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Courtesy: Lance King
Coach K
The Heavy Duke Influence on USA Basketball
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 07/12/2012
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DURHAM, N.C. - Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has doubled as the lead man for the USA Men's Senior National Team since 2005. In that time the international game and USA Basketball has had a strong influence on the Duke program, while the Duke culture has also steadily permeated into USA Basketball. That influence was abundantly evident last week during the USA National Team's training camp in Las Vegas.

No Duke figure was more noticeable at training camp than Krzyzewski, a 12-time medal winner while working with USA Basketball. Under his guidance, the Men's National Team captured gold medals at the 2010 FIBA World Championships and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and is poised for more success at the upcoming Olympic Games in London. Since becoming the head coach of Team USA, Krzyzewski has led the program to a 49-1 record in international competitions, including a current streak of 37 wins.

"He just knows the game," says Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. "He's a great motivator. He holds everybody to a certain standard. Everything's about family and team ... I'm excited I get the chance to play under him, and I've been learning a lot these past few years."

While Krzyzewski manned the sidelines, along with assistants Mike D'Antoni, Nate McMillan and Jim Boeheim, Duke's Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski served as court coaches and advance scouts for the USA Basketball program. Collins and Wojciechowski were ever present in practice, taking the national team through offensive sets, defensive principles and a series of shooting drills and skill work. The duo will remain with Team USA throughout the Olympics, scouting opponents and helping the staff game plan.

"I love Wojo, I love Coach Collins," says the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul. "They're just great guys. They've been outstanding since day one."

The national team's scrimmages against the USA Select Team also feature a couple of other familiar faces from the Duke program. NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving directed the USA Select squad from the point, while 2010 National Champion Lance Thomas also earned a spot on the team after helping Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2011 Pan American Games.

The Duke players and coaching staff were also joined in Las Vegas by several of Duke's current and former managers, including Pat Thompson, Kyle Mumma, John McGinty and Scott Lamson. The foursome handled managerial duties throughout training camp, while also assisting the staff in various drills. At one point, Mumma, Lamson and Thompson found themselves picking up LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant on defense while Team USA went through some dummy offensive sets.

In addition, Kevin Cullen, the team's video coordinator, also made the trip to help film practices and prepare scouting videos. Cullen has been with USA Basketball since 2006 and will travel with the team to London. Another former team manager, Mike Egan, was also in attendance in Las Vegas. Egan currently works in the Nike apparel division, helping outfit several youth teams and national basketball teams in the latest Nike gear. and were also among the Duke contingent in Las Vegas, with Chad Lampman, Ryan Craig and Dave Bradley compiling hours' worth of video footage and interviews that will be featured on both web sites and in various other special productions.

Meanwhile, other prominent members of the Duke program also made the trip out west. Christian Laettner and Grant Hill both came out to observe and provide analysis for Fox Sports and NBATV, and Jay Bilas, Chip Engelland, Mickie Krzyzewski and Mike Cragg were among the spectators taking in the action on the court.  

"Coach K is a great guy, a great coach," says LeBron James. "He's one of the all-time best, if not the [best], and to have all the guys around is always amazing."