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.

Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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Lara Gut-Behrami wins Killington giant slalom, and the overall title race may be on

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Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami rallied from third place after the first run for her 35th career World Cup victory, taking a giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Saturday.

Gut-Behrami, 31, earned her fifth World Cup giant slalom win and first in six years. She prevailed by .07 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino combining times from two windy runs. Sweden’s Sara Hector, the Olympic champion and first-run leader, ended up third.

“Last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again,” said Gut-Behrami, who won the GS at the last world championships in 2021. “Last year I was struggling with my health. I was all the time sick.”

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Gut-Behrami’s best events are downhill and super-G, so a strong start to the season in GS could put her on a path to winning the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. She previously lifted that crystal globe in 2016.

Reigning World Cup overall champ Mikaela Shiffrin, who previously placed second, third, fourth and fifth in Killington giant slaloms, finished 13th after winning the season’s first two races, slaloms in Finland last week. It marked her lowest World Cup GS finish since December 2019.

“[Finland] was a spectacular weekend,” Shiffrin, who has not had much recent GS training, said after her 10th-place opening run Saturday. “Every race is a different story.”

Shiffrin won all five World Cup slaloms in Killington dating to 2016 and will go for her 50th career World Cup slalom victory across all venues on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock).

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