DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Mike Krzyzewski always maintained that leading the U.S. Olympic basketball team would make him a changed coach. Sure enough, Coach K was there on the sideline in Beijing and he stopped himself from saying something he otherwise might have.
``Most of the time I was there,'' Krzyzewski said, ``I was mic'ed.''
That's not all that's different about the post-Olympic Krzyzewski, who's settling in back at Duke while transitioning to the familiar college game.
Speaking Wednesday on campus for the first time since leading the Americans to their first gold medal in the sport since 2000, he sounded eager to restore the Blue Devils among basketball's elite, with a newfound dedication to ``live the moment'' and greet his team's victories less with relief and more with sincere appreciation.
``Sometimes being here at Duke, because we've been very, very successful ... they expect you to be perfect. They don't look at process anymore,'' Krzyzewski said. ``It's like, 'What, we haven't gone to the Final Four? What, we didn't win the national (title)? Very spoiled, and it ruins it a little bit - really, a lot.
``Part of that then becomes, you win, and sometimes you're just relieved to win,'' he added. ``I'm not saying that it happens all the time, but it happens. At the end of that Spain game, most people would say, 'Weren't you relieved?' No, I wasn't. I was exhilarated. It was euphoric. It was the way it should be. That's the way it's going to be for the rest of my career here at Duke.''
While the Olympic experience changed the way Krzyzewski views the game, it also affected the way his Duke assistants teach it.
The Krzyzewski assistants who accompanied the U.S. team said they caught themselves picking the brains of Jim Boeheim, Mike D'Antoni and the other members of the staff, with Chris Collins calling it ``like being in a coaches' clinic.'' And while there's little chance that Boeheim's noted 2-3 zone defense will show up at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, Collins said some of those coaches' principles could make their way onto the Blue Devils' chalkboard.
is just a wonderful opportunity.''
That's partly why Krzyzewski is taking exception to critics who suggested that the time he spent overseas would harm his Duke program that is coming off a 28-6 season, reached No. 2 nationally but for the second straight year failed to reach the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
While the Blue Devils have reached 10 Final Fours under Coach K, they haven't been there in an un-Krzyzewski-like four years.
``Doing those two things at the same time afforded me an amazing opportunity to grow,'' Krzyzewski said. ``Throughout this time, there have been sometimes articles, 'You should do this, you shouldn't.' There's no way that I shouldn't have done this. For Duke, for me, for our country, for the kids I coach. I'm a better coach to them, a better person as a result, and when I was coaching them, it was that we didn't go to the NCAA Final Four during the last two years because we had two young teams and we got beat. All of a sudden, there's a reason. 'Shame on you, you don't do that, that's wrong.' The people who wrote about those things, they were wrong.''
``We're going to go after it, we're going to do it, and if (some student) doesn't go to the Final Four after their four years at Duke, then that's just too damn bad,'' he added. ``But our team is going to have fun, is going to be representative and they're going to have the opportunity to grow just like our Olympic team did.''
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