(Reuters) - Mike Krzyzewski said on Thursday he is returning for another term as the U.S. men’s national basketball team coach with the aim of leading the squad to a third successive Olympic title at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Krzyzewski, the Duke University coach who has amassed the most wins in U.S. college hoops, has a 61-2 record since taking over the U.S. national team in 2005, including Olympic golds in 2008 and 2012, and is riding a 50-game winning streak.
“It’s the ultimate honor to coach our country’s team,” Krzyzewski, who had said several times that he would step aside after last year’s triumph at the London Olympics, told a news conference at Duke in Durham, North Carolina.
“When the 2008 Olympics, the world championship in ‘10 and then London were all finished, I really felt it would be the end of my time coaching international basketball.”
Krzyzewski said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo had kept after him about staying on the job, recalling a hotel room meeting over room service pizza and chicken fingers, and that after consulting with his family and Duke, he decided to return.
“It is tough to give up something you’ve absolutely loved doing for seven years, the people you’re doing it with, and most importantly, the country you’re doing it for,” said 66-year-old Krzyzewski, who previously coached at Army.
Colangelo, who worked with Krzyzewski to change the U.S. national team system by requiring more of a commitment from the players, joined the news conference via telephone.
“It’s a perfect fit for him. I think his legacy is very much tied to USA Basketball, as it certainly is to Duke University. I could not have picked a better guy to be in that foxhole with than Coach K and it’s been great,” said Colangelo.
“It’s been a heck of a ride, a great journey, and I’m so happy we’re going to continue.”
Last year, Krzyzewski steered a star-studded squad including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony to their second successive gold medal game triumph over Spain in the London Olympics final.
Under Krzyzewski, the U.S. team has not lost since a defeat to Greece in the semi-finals of the 2006 world championship and his London gold allowed him to join American Hank Iba as the only coaches to win back-to-back Olympic crowns.
Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, Krzyzewski has registered 957 career coaching victories on the college level, and won four national championships and made 11 Final Fours with Duke.
“I’m really excited to do it,” Krzyzewski said about coaching the U.S. team.
“We’ll try and do these four years the same way we did the last seven, to build it with the best players available. They’re the ones who make an amazing commitment.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue