Rumors are already swirling about who will take Coack Mike Krzyzewski’s spot on the Team USA bench, with Celtics coach Doc Rivers all but running away from the gig this weekend. He told the Boston Globe it was too hard of a job for an NBA coach, and even suggested that Larry Brown was aversely affected by his turn in 2004.
So who’s going to take over for Coach K? Here are the five best college options:
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) – Boeheim has been the lead assistant on Team USA since 2006 and is the natural choice to take over for Coach K. He has a national championship, three Final Fours, and if he’s still at Syracuse come 2016 he’ll be bordering on 1000 wins. He’ll be 71 in Rio, but he’s still our top choice.
Bill Self (Kansas) – Easily one of the best coaches in the country, regardless of roster. Self already has one NCAA Championship and two Final Fours with Kansas and will likely have a couple more by the next Olympics. At 49 he’s young enough to take over the team for 2016, 2020, and beyond, providing some welcomed continuity.
John Calipari (Kentucky) – For as shady as he often is, Coach Cal wins. Everywhere. He’s unofficially taken three different schools to the Final Four and finally won a championship with Kentucky in 2012. His failed NBA attempts don’t encourage us, but he never really got a fair shot in New Jersey. If basketball went to a 23-and-under format he might be the favorite.
Rick Pitino (Louisville) – Probably a few years late on Pitino, especially after he ruined his above-reproach reputation with some lewd off court headlines. Then again, Pitino made the 2012 Final Four – his sixth. He’s still one of the best basketball minds in the country and his coaching tree would make for a great list of assistants. Still a good option.
Roy Williams (North Carolina) – He’s a hall of fame coach with seven Final Four appearances, so you can’t leave him off the list. Trouble is, Williams is the kind of guy who creates great teams over time and he wouldn’t really have that luxury here. He’s probably not the guy you’re looking for to lead the team, but again: seven Final Fours. He’s a winner.
And just incase Jerry Colangelo disagrees about Rivers’ whole don’t-ruin-my-career-with-patriotism thought process, here are the top three NBA choices:
Tom Thibodeau (Chicago) – Pretty new to head coaching, so we’ll have to wait and see, but the Bulls boss was the fastest NBA coach ever to 100 wins and is one of the best defensive minds in basketball. He was a big reason the Celtics won in 2008 and proves he can do well with an ensemble cast. If he gets his reps and wins over the next four years he could be an ideal choice.
Doug Collins (Philadelphia) – Even though the Bulls were playing without Derrick Rose, we’re still impressed by how the Sixers’ coach dispatched of the east’s top seed in the playoffs. He’d also be a bit of a sentimental pick since a gold in Rio would make up for the one his last second free throws should have secured him in 1972, before the refs got creative and stole the win out from under Team USA.
Gregg Popovich (San Antonio) – Arguably the best basketball coach alive. Popovich has won four NBA titles and the last time he missed the playoffs Bill Clinton had just been reelected. Problem is we just don’t think he’d be into it, especially if he’s rebuilding the Spurs after Tim Duncan’s retirement. To be determined.