USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo warns that getting a good team together is going to get harder for a number of reasons, including personal career concerns and teams that don’t want guys to participate.
He knows more about it than any of us so maybe he’s right.
And the program he and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski pioneered was a brilliant innovation: get a pool of players together to get to know each other and then take a solid group.
It’s worked every time so far (we’ll know soon about Tokyo).
What Coach K brought to that was really critical though: he made those groups feel special, somewhat like special services.
Just as a for-instance or what-if, if he had coached this team, it would not have surprised us in the slightest if he had invited Marshall Plumlee in to speak to the team.
A former NBA player, Plumlee walked away to join the Army where he has become a Ranger.
We imagine he and Coach K would have talked about the hard work to achieve that dream, that being good is one thing but being part of an elite group is really special, and the lesson would have been obvious.
Gregg Popovich is not Coach K and he’s not going to take that approach. But making it special is a big deal.
Grant Hill will take over for Colangelo soon and he’s in a great position to innovate. He understands the NBA from both sides - as a player and a part owner - and he carries immense respect.
It’s possible that the solution now is to take a legitimate team, or at least the core of one.
Imagine if Baylor had continued to work out together and went, or the Atlanta Hawks or the Phoenix Suns.
If the problem is taking stars and forcing them to play together, then why not take 6-7 players form a good NBA or college team, fill in the gaps, and let those guys do it?
Or if the same approach is still there, as we’ve said before, we’d like to see Rick Pitino coach. He could put together a running, pressing team that would be incredible - and he wouldn’t necessarily need top talent to do it either.