Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Who will take over for Coach K?

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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.

Mother, son set to compete in same Olympics for first time

Nino Salukvadze, Tsotne Machavariani
AP
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TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Going into her eighth Olympics, former shooting champion Nino Salukvadze has plenty of reasons to be proud of her long career.

She has something even more special to celebrate in Rio de Janeiro: She and her 18-year-old son will both be competing.

While there have been previous cases of parents and their children competing at the same games, this is believed to be the first time a mother and son will participate in the same Olympics.

Salukvadze’s son, Tsotne Machavariani, shot a personal-best in the 10-meter air pistol at the European championships in February to snatch a surprise Olympic qualifying spot.

“I am very happy as the representative of the Georgian shooting federation but a million times happier as a mother that my son managed to do this,” the 47-year-old Salukvadze told The Associated Press.

In the 28 years since she won a 25-meter pistol gold medal for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Games, Salukvadze and her family have kept Olympic shooting alive in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Salukvadze and her father handle the coaching at a tiny range in the basement of the Sports Ministry which she helped pay to build. The main hall is bedecked with her medals, but the range can hold only five shooters at a time, meaning mother and son often head abroad to train at more modern facilities.

Over the decades, Vakhtang Salukvadze has mentored his daughter and grandson as they became world-class shooters, but he won’t be going to Rio because of his age.

“His dream always was to see me and my son competing at the same Olympic Games. We made his dream true earlier then he thought,” Nino Salukvadze said. “He’s 85 and taking into account the Brazilian weather and the length of the flight, it was decided that he’ll stay home.”

Salukvadze briefly became a celebrity during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which took place during a war between Georgia and neighboring Russia. After winning a bronze medal, she kissed a Russian shooter on the podium in a demonstration of peace.

“Why did it surprise everyone so much?” she said. “We’re athletes. There’s no conflict between us.”

In the 120-year history of the modern Olympics, it has not been uncommon for fathers and sons to compete at the same games, a reflection of the historical preponderance of men’s events on the program, but mother-child partnerships are much rarer.

Olympic historian Bill Mallon said there have been 56 cases of fathers and sons at the same games, 12 of father and daughter, two of mother and daughter, but none of mother-son — until now.

While Salukvadze won gold at her first Olympics, her son said he’s not under pressure to match her achievement.

“My mother tells me that although she was almost my age when she won her Olympic gold, she represented the Soviet Union at that time and had better training conditions, more experience in tournaments,” he said. “She tells me that we do not have that luxury and she does not demand any results from me. I think this her way to calm me down and minimize my nervousness during the tournament.”

While she can provide on-the-spot coaching, any motherly advice will remain a family secret, Machavariani said with a smile.

“At the Olympics I will be representing my mother, my country and myself,” he said.

MORE: First set of Olympic triplets?

IIHF president doesn’t expect NHL participation in 2018 Olympics

Sidney Crosby
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The head of ice hockey’s international body says there’s a strong possibility that NHL players won’t be competing at the next Winter Olympics.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel puts the chances at 60 percent that the NHL will decline to go to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, because of a lack of money to cover player insurance.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Fasel said the IOC has canceled its contribution to player travel and insurance costs for Pyeongchang, leaving the IIHF facing a $10 million shortfall and “begging” for money around the world.

“It’s always difficult to get (to) the Olympics, the Games,” he said. “And now with some problems on our side, 50-50 is very positive. I would be more 60 percent that they are not coming.”

Negotiations and brinkmanship over finances are common in the lead-up to Olympic hockey tournaments. For the 2014 tournament in Sochi, Russia, the NHL’s participation was assured only in July 2013, seven months before the games. But the IOC’s refusal to cover player insurance adds an additional dimension for 2018.

While the IOC gives the IIHF around $40 million of revenue each Olympics, Fasel insists that money is earmarked for developing hockey and wants national Olympic committees and hockey federations to plug the gap.

The IOC pulled its extra subsidy because its leaders are “a bit scared that other (sports) federations will come and also ask for some compensation for traveling and insurance,” said Fasel, who is also an IOC member and serves on its rule-making executive board.

“I think my idea is to work closer together with the national Olympic committees, as they have normally to pay transportation and insurance for the athletes when they come to the games, so I can imagine that some of the NOCs are also ready to spend some money there, so we have to go around and do some begging,” he said.

Fasel said the end of this year is the deadline to reach a deal because of the NHL’s need to draw up a calendar for the Olympic season.

“If you don’t have the best, (the Olympics) will be a different competition for sure,” he said, but warned: “At the end somebody has to pay. That’s the question. On my side I will do everything possible to make it happen.”

Fasel also dismissed the suggestion that the NHL’s revived World Cup of Hockey could offer some players less incentive to demand to be allowed to play at the Olympics.

“There is nothing like the Olympics,” he said. “I think for an athlete to win the gold medal is so different from winning the Stanley Cup. You can win the Stanley Cup every year.”

In Pyeongchang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022, the Winter Olympics move to Asia and away from the North American and European nations that have historically been the bedrock of hockey.

South Korea, which has built a team mixing import players with locals, plays in the second level of the IIHF’s world championship and hopes not to be a walkover in 2018. China, however, is far less competitive.

After losses to Iceland and Spain last month, China will be in the fifth tier for next year and in 2022 could become the first Winter Olympic host not to enter a hockey team — a situation which worries the IIHF, given China’s potential to become a huge market for the sport.

“One thing they do not like is to lose the face, so they cannot do that,” Fasel said. “I hope and I think they will have a Chinese player, Chinese team in Beijing in 2022. We cannot put them on the ice and they will be beaten 15, 20-nothing. We cannot do that.”

Things are looking up for China, with increased government interest and the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League due to open a team there this year, but Fasel said the NHL is key to unlocking potentially vast commercial rewards in China.

“A North American brand in China has a very special taste. We can see that with the NBA,” he said. “I think what we need is to have a Chinese NHL player, like Yao Ming with basketball.”

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups determined