Friday , Aug , 29 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Defense First: Why Mike D’Antoni shouldn’t coach Team USA at London in 2012

But Coach K succesfully changed the program’s culture. Players attended training camps and bought-in to the system or were asked to leave (see Gilbert Arenas and Shawn Marion). No grey area. The end result was a memorable victory party on the final day of the Beijing Olympics. So who is his successor? Yesterday reports speculated Mike D’Antoni, an assitant with Team USA, could get promoted to head coach …

Defense First: Why Mike D'Antoni shouldn't coach Team USA at London in 2012Redeem Team USA’ came, saw, and conquered Beijing. Never satisfied, the focus has quickly switched from celebrating to repeating. 

Winning a second straight gold medal at London in 2012 won’t be easy, especially with the inevitable roster turnover. The biggest change will be at coach. Mike Krzyzewski is moving on, leaving a massive hole on Team USA’s bench.

After all, the Duke sideline boss had guts. First, he demanded NBA superstars commit three summers to the National Program. Then he demanded they play selfless, team-first basketball.

Critics thought he was crazy. Fair or not, American players had a ‘rep’ for spending their summers in Cadillac Escalades and eye candy. International ball was meaningless, replaced by millionaires enjoying their toys.

But Coach K succesfully changed the program’s culture. Players attended training camps and bought-in to the system or were asked to leave (see Gilbert Arenas and Shawn Marion). No grey area. The end result was a memorable victory party on the final day of the Beijing Olympics.

So who is his successor? Yesterday reports speculated Mike D’Antoni, an assistant with Team USA, could get promoted to head coach.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, an assistant on Coach K.’s staff this year and an experienced hand in international play, also could be in the mix. Either way, I think it will be an NBA coach. I don’t see another Coach K. out there on the college landscape right now who could step in and handle a team full of NBA egos. (CNNSI.com)

I’m not convinced ‘Seven Seconds To Shoot’ is the guy to help America conquer London and win back-to-back gold medals.

Why D’Antoni should coach Team USA:

  • International experience: D’Antoni starred as a player and coach in Europe, so he gets the FIBA game. 
  • Continuity is key: D’Antoni was an assistant coach in Beijing, which creates a comfort zone for the young core of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade. 
  • Entertainment: D’Antoni’s freewheeling system would showcase the beauty and teamwork of American basketball.

Why D’Antoni shouldn’t coach Team USA:

  • Defence wins: America’s bread-and-butter was their ability to get stops. But D’Antoni thinks scoring first, defense second. 
  • The Zebras: D’Antoni often alienates referees with his excitable and competitive nature on the sideline. International officials would punish his feisty temperament.
  • The Aretha Franklins: D’Antoni won everything in Europe, but currently has zero NBA Titles. This is still the key number in gaining the respect of NBA players (Coach K was the exception because of his success at Duke). 
  • Too soft: D’Antoni is player-friendly, which could backfire when having to bring a team together in such a short time frame.

Our Call: D’Antoni is a great offensive coach, but China showed Team USA wins with defense. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich would be a better fit to lead America at London in 2012.

Should D’Antoni coach Team USA in 2012? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.