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Q&A with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports
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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski directs his team during practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, March 20, 2014. Duke plays Mercer in a second-round game on Friday. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

LAS VEGAS – Team USA opens training camp on Monday to begin preparing for next month's World Cup in Spain. Mike Krzyzewski is back as coach, and he sat down with Yahoo Sports to discuss Derrick Rose's return, his own health, LeBron James' return to Cleveland and other topics.

Yahoo Sports: What is your reaction to Kevin Love and Blake Griffin deciding not to play just days before training camp?

Krzyzewski: "We've done this for nine years now. These things, I've got accustomed to them happening. That's why there is a pool of players. That's why with [USA Basketball executive director] Jerry's [Colangelo] leadership we developed a program where you just don't pick 12 players, you develop a program. We're disappointed, obviously. …You're getting into the last week. It's the last weekend. And both of those guys figured prominently into what we were planning then. But now we have to plan something new. In 2010, we had nobody from the [2008] Olympic team go to the world championship. It gave an opportunity to some younger guys and some older guys. Lamar Odom was brilliant during that time. We just have to figure out how other people will step up."

Yahoo: What do you think about the addition of Paul Millsap to the USA roster?

Krzyzewski: "In the last minute he reached out and wanted to be a part of it. That's what most of the guys are like. Millsap is a veteran player who is coming off of maybe his best year. It gives us another guy to look at."

Yahoo: Is Love and Griffin's departure a major concern?

Krzyzewski: "We're not in any panic. We knew it was going to be tough competition whether Griffin or Love were with us. We have really good players. These guys are committed. It's just a matter of putting it together in a short period of time."

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Krzyzewski guided the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. (USA Today)

Krzyzewski guided the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. (USA Today)

Yahoo: You had a spell last season with Duke where you experienced dizziness and were lightheaded. Is everything fine with you physically now?

Krzyzewski: "This past year emotionally for me was difficult. My brother passed the day after Christmas. The second half of the season, especially that month, right after was different than I've ever had. It just wore me down a little bit. I'm good. I feel great. There is nothing. No problem."

Yahoo: Did you consider not coaching the U.S. team this summer?

Krzyzewski: "We're excited. I never took one second of thought about not doing it."

Yahoo: Do you know how much longer you want to coach the U.S. and Duke?

Krzyzewski: "I'm going to coach USA, and this is true, through Rio [in the 2016 Olympics]. I might coach in college longer. Probably. I do not see an end of my road in my college coaching. Also, Jerry will stop being the head of USA Basketball at that time [after the 2016 Olympics]. It's an amazing honor, I've learned a lot and I really like working with Jerry."

Yahoo: Is there more pressure coaching USA or Duke?

Krzyzewski: "There is more pressure with USA. It's your country's team. Most people think it's a lot easier than it is. It's not easy because the competition is so good. The Spurs, two-thirds of their team is international players. And 20 percent of the NBA is international players. It's the world stage. There is pressure at Duke. You're dealing with young men and you're coaching against young men. In this, you're coaching against established programs with what Argentina has done over a long period, what Spain has done, the tradition of Lithuania, what France has done, Australia and how all these young players are coming along from all these countries."

Yahoo: Does your one loss with USA [Greece, 2006 world championships] hurt more than any loss at Duke?

Krzyzewski: "It did at that moment. In retrospect, we probably learned more from losing than we would have from winning. We learned that how we were approaching it as a country was not right. We had to learn the game, make bigger commitments and just work harder. We couldn't do it anymore just picking people or just picking a staff. There had to be more of a commitment. Our scouting increased unbelievably. All those things. We don't get paid, but you have to pay for a lot of things. But that's where Jerry has been remarkable in the money that he has raised for USA Basketball."

Yahoo: What are you expecting from Kevin Durant on this team?

Krzyzewski: "I've coached Kevin for a long time. He's always looking for the challenge and the opportunity to play."

Yahoo: What are you expecting from Derrick Rose in his return from knee injury?

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Derrick Rose will participate in the U.S. training camp. (Getty Images)

Derrick Rose will participate in the U.S. training camp. (Getty Images)

Krzyzewski: "He was our starting guard in 2010. I met with him a little bit yesterday. I know he's excited about being here. Physically, he's good. It's just a matter of how quickly you regain the instincts to compete and play at this level."

Yahoo: Does Rose have any restrictions?

Krzyzewski: "No. No. None at all. Again, he hasn't played against this competition [in a while]. We have to watch that. But no. He says he's ready to go. I haven't seen him play. These next few days I will see the new guys, see Derrick. We put in part of our foundation for this system, but we have to give them the opportunity to play. The Select Team gives us an opportunity to compete and play more than just practice against each other."

Yahoo: So Rose is here truly competing for a World Cup spot?

Krzyzewski: "He's here to be here. We'll see how everything goes. I'm excited about having him. He's very excited about being here."

Yahoo: How do you feel about your roster and how will you use it?

Krzyzewski: "Our roster is built on quickness, athleticism and shooting. We've won these last three competitions because we've been smart defensively, knowing team fouls, we've shot more free throws, we've passed the ball well, had more assists and we've really shot the ball well. It's different shots than they get in the NBA. A lot of them are stationary threes. What we hope we can hold our own in is our rebounding and post defense because we don't have a lot of depth there on the inside. You have Anthony Davis, Durant, Paul George, [James] Harden and Rose, [Stephen] Curry, [Damian] Lillard, Klay Thompson. Do we have enough other stuff? Big teams will try to pound us. No question about it. We believe we have a team that can win. But we certainly can be beat. There are good teams out there."

Yahoo: Is that just coach speak?

Krzyzewski: "We can always get beat. In this competition, whether it's the Olympics or the World Cup, people are playing for their countries. … I'm not nervous. I'm focused. That doesn't mean I think we are going to roll through anything. We've built a great deal of respect of the international game."

Yahoo: Will there be any more additions to the team?

Krzyzewski: "I don't expect anything else, no."

Yahoo: You talked to LeBron James at his basketball camp prior to his announcement that he would leave Miami for Cleveland. We're you privy to what he was going to do?

Krzyzewski: "I felt that that was what he was going to do. But he didn't say that. I just said, 'How are you doing? You've been good to everybody. Just be good to yourself. You should do what's in your heart and everything will work out. You're 29 and you won't be doing this forever. You have an amazing franchise in Miami. The Arison family is as good as a family as there is with [president] Pat [Riley] and [coach] Erik [Spoelstra], and you have home. Do what you feel is right for you.' "

Yahoo: What made you feel like he was going home?

Krzyzewski: "I've known him for eight years. I just had a feeling with how he looks. He seemed very confident. But I had nothing to do with his decision. He wasn't texting me giving me some private knowledge here."

Yahoo: Other than Durant, are you disappointed that many of the elite stars aren't here?

Krzyzewski: "As soon as they say they're not coming, it's done. I don't linger with that. I would rather concentrate on the guys here. The fact that [Love and Griffin] has just happened is fresh. We have to be reactionary to it. But we move on. When we play in Spain, no one will be making excuses for us. We have a good group, they're committed and we're going to start the journey again."

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