Now that Mike Krzyzewski has stated his intentions not to return as head coach of the U.S. Olympic team for 2016, the question becomes who would serve in that position next? John Calipari obviously comes to mind. So the question this afternoon for the Big Blue Nation would be this: Would John Calipari be a good choice to coach the U.S. team for the Summer Olympics?
We'll look at the pros and cons of this question, and you can answer the poll after the jump.
First, and possibly most important, Coach Cal is among the most persuasive people in the coaching ranks, and arguably the single most persuasive coach in America. That gives him a decent chance of putting together the kind of team that can win against the excellent competition now found in the summer Olympics. Gone are the days when Team USA could just go assemble a group of professionals and count on a gold medal.
But also gone are the days when the best players in the NBA are lining up to play in the Olympics. Jerry Colangelo and coach Krzyzewski deserve a ton of credit for making Team USA cool again to the NBA's best players, but it's still an ongoing battle with no end in sight.
Second, Calipari's coaching style is very NBA-friendly, which is one of the reasons why he has been so successful getting players into the NBA at such high levels, aside from the obvious factor of their talent. The Dominican Republic national team NBA professionals have widely praised Coach Cal, and he plays exactly the kind of system that the pros should be comfortable in.
Third, Calipari understands international rules, and how to apply them to his best advantage. This year will be the second year Coach Cal has opted to coach the Dominican Republic national squad, and that experience is invaluable to coaches who take on the responsibility of heading up the U.S. Olympic team.
Fourth, Calipari would bring a fresh approach to the team, much like Mike Krzyzewski has so successfully done in recent years. Like Krzyzewski, Calipari is completely invested in the concept of team defense, and if anyone can successfully impart the urgency and necessity of team defense to professionals used to playing defense only at playoff time, it's Calipari, much as Coach K has successfully done in recent years.
Finally, Calipari wins. Coach Herman Boone's statement in Remember the Titans, "I'm a winner. I'm going to win," could have been made by Coach Cal. He is a winner. He is going to win.
"The Miserables," as Calipari used to call his critics in Memphis, would come out in full force. No matter how many NCAA championships he wins, or how many years he goes without attracting the attention of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Calipari will always be seen by some as a cheater, and, in their words, "slimy." There will be a loud and obnoxious contingent opposed to his naming as coach of the Olympics, and many milquetoasts who will proclaim him too divisive to be in that position.
Secondly, Calipari is not a slave to tradition, and you can bet he will come up with some new ideas that will offend those that try to obsessively adhere to traditional methods and practices, particularly in selecting the team. Calipari will know exactly who he wants and why, and he will do his level best to mold an Olympic team into his own creation, and anger those whose gods are protocol and politics.
Third, Kentucky fans will find it inconvenient, and it could affect how well he is able to recruit in Olympic years. There is no real doubt that coaching Team USA is a difficult job that can affect a coach's main job, and in spite of his NCAA Tournament win in 2010, Duke has been less of a juggernaut on the recruiting trail since Coach K has been the coach of Team USA. That would doubtless cause some restlessness among the passionate fans of the Big Blue.
So there you go, my pros and cons for Coach Cal replacing Coach K as the Team USA coach. You can add to the list below in the comments, as I wouldn't presume to consider this an exhaustive, or even the best possible list.