U.S. men's basketball team aces final test

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 13, 2012 - 1:19 AM

Team USA gave coach Mike Krzyzewski the perfect going-away gift -- an impressive surge vs. Spain to secure the long-awaited gold medal.

LONDON - Mike Krzyzewski didn't hesitate for a moment when he was asked if he really was retiring from his role as coach of the U.S. men's basketball team. He couldn't think of a better way to go out, having just guided his players to a 107-100 victory over Spain for the Olympic gold medal on the final day of the London Games.

Krzyzewski got the customary postgame dousing from LeBron James, who scored 19 points Sunday and led the way in the fourth quarter. The coach leapt and danced on the sidelines of North Greenwich Arena as his players -- whose joy was tinged with a touch of relief -- celebrated their second consecutive Olympic gold. Spain gave them all they could handle in a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game, but the Americans got some distance with a 12-4 spurt at the beginning of the fourth quarter and refused to let go.

The U.S. offset its biggest deficiency, its lack of a true center, with a barrage of three-pointers and star turns from a host of players. Kevin Durant led the U.S. with 30 points, while James scored seven in the fourth quarter, including a thundering dunk and a three-pointer that put the U.S. up by nine with 1 minute, 59 seconds left.

Krzyzewski ends his Olympic tenure with the luster of the U.S. program restored. He and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo made that their mission when they took over in 2005, after an embarrassing showing at the Athens Games. At the end of Sunday's victory, which stretched their Olympic winning streak to 17 consecutive games, he embraced James and reveled in a job well done.

"It's a heck of a thing," said Krzyzewski, who is 62-1 as coach of the U.S. national team. "I love the way my guys responded today. We got some defensive stops and made some big shots. I'm really, really happy and proud."

NBA players have not always seemed touched by the Olympic spirit, but several spoke Sunday about how much it meant to them to be part of the Summer Games this year. Colangelo and Krzyzewski assembled a group dedicated to representing their country well, and the coach said they became as tightly bonded as any team at the Olympics.

Behind Lakers center Pau Gasol and hot-shooting Juan-Carlos Navarro, Spain led by as many as five early in the game. The U.S. took off on an 18-4 tear late in the first quarter to lead 35-27, but Spain never allowed it to pull away. At halftime, the Americans led by a single point, 59-58, and Gasol exploited their lack of size inside to score seven consecutive points in the third quarter and put Spain ahead 67-64.

U.S. guard Chris Paul said the players reminded themselves that defense would make the difference. They led 83-82 at the end of the third quarter in a game that saw 16 lead changes, and they turned up the pressure on Spain in the final 10 minutes. After James' dunk and three-pointer, Paul drove for a twisting, soaring layup that would have impressed the Olympic diving judges, putting the U.S. ahead 104-93.

"We said, we didn't fight for this long to come up short," Durant said, describing the chatter in a fourth-quarter huddle. "We just needed to do the things we were supposed to do and keep fighting."

After the buzzer, James Harden carried a large stuffed Olympic mascot -- in gold, of course -- into the middle of a more joyous huddle. Paul echoed what Krzyzewski said about the team's closeness, lamenting that the players would soon go their separate ways.

"It probably sounds crazy to say after winning a gold medal that this is bittersweet," Paul said. "It's sweet to have this gold medal around your neck, but it's tough, because you won't get this opportunity any more. I hate that in a couple months these guys are going to be my enemies. There was something about this 2012 team that was special. It's something I'll never forget."

Krzyzewski has repeatedly said during these Olympics that the basketball world has changed and the U.S. can no longer assume its superiority. He noted that this team took its opponents and its task seriously, something that made him particularly proud.

Before he leaves, he will take on one more task: debriefing with Colangelo, to help set a strategy to maintain the gains made in their seven years together. "What Jerry has established has been terrific,'' Krzyzewski said. "It's produced two Olympic gold medals and a world championship. That's a great run."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question