Coach K, Colangelo plan could keep U.S. in bronze age

NEW YORK -- Given the sad state of where the U.S. national program currently stands, you'd expect a little less hubris and a little better plan from the man in charge of trying to restore the Old World Order.

But Jerry Colangelo came up lacking in both categories Wednesday when USA Basketball emerged from its post-Athens shell to announce that Duke's Mike Krzyzewski will coach Team USA through the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

It wasn't quite conceit or arrogance, but there was a disconcerting tone of misplaced haughtiness as Colangelo detailed plans for putting together the next U.S. national team. In addition, Krzyzewski made a sizable gaffe by incorrectly noting that one of the ways the international game differed from the NBA game was the 30-second shot clock.

Actually, they've been using a 24-second clock in international tournaments since 2001, and Coach K would have noticed if he was paying closer attention to America's fall from grace -- a sixth-place finish at the 2002 World Championship and a bronze medal in 2004 at the Athens Olympics.

Maybe Krzyzewski is simply in denial, too, one more member of a U.S. public that has turned a blind eye to the intricacies and explanations for the demise of American dominance in a sport invented and perfected here. It's hard to explain why, but U.S. basketball fans seem to not quite have grasped the significance of what's taken place in the basketball universe over the past 3½ years.