Tom Izzo: "I would like to be Olympic waterboy. I’d like to be anything involved with it." (Dale G. Young / Detroit News)
East Lansing — Like many college basketball coaches, Michigan State's Tom Izzo has long held Duke's Mike Krzyzewski up as the standard, both for his program's success as well as his own.
That topic will be addressed again — and again — this week with the Spartans and Blue Devils set to meet in a Midwest Region semifinal game Friday night in Indianapolis.
Krzyzewski's the all-time leader in Division I coaching wins, with four national championships and 11 Final Four berths, among other accomplishments. But he also has won a pair of Olympic gold medals as the U.S. men's coach, and that's something else Izzo aspires to be.
"I would like to be Olympic waterboy," Izzo said Monday. "I'd like to be anything involved with it. That's been one of my dreams. … That would be the ultimate honor."
In recent weeks, the 66-year-old Krzyzewski reiterated his stance that he won't continue on as the Olympic coach after seven years and two gold medals. But Colangelo, re-elected last November to another four-year term as chairman of USA Basketball's board of directors, likely will wait until after the NCAA Tournament to approach Coach K one last time, before turning his attention to other candidates.
The 2016 Olympics will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Colangelo has said there's no rush to find a new coach, but USA Basketball will begin preparations for the 2014 world championships with a training camp this summer.
While there is speculation he'll turn to an NBA coach this time, with Boston's Doc Rivers at the top of the list, and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich another who deserves a shot despite a reported rift with Colangelo, Krzyzewski's success certainly bolsters the case for a college coach like Izzo.
Izzo has heard all that, of course. And the Michigan State coach, who turned 58 in January, hasn't shied away from talking publicly about his interest in the job. But ask him about being on a short list, and you'll get a quick answer.
"If that's real," he said, laughing. "Someone's got to mention it to me, that's the problem. But I looked at, you know, 'What are they gonna do?' Am I one of so-many college coaches? Are they probably gonna get an NBA coach? If they did, could I be one of the assistants?"
Krzyzewski had an extensive history as an assistant coach with USA Basketball — including the 1984 and 1992 Olympics — before being tapped as the head man in 2005 as Colangelo sought to stabilize the U.S. men's program.
Izzo, who has coached for USA Basketball at the Pan American Games and Goodwill Games, doesn't want to hurt his chances of being the Olympic head coach by lobbying for an assistant's post. But he really can't help himself.
"I just have always died to be part of the Olympics," he said.