Izzo wants to be part of men’s Olympic team

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — The desire to be involved in the Olympics has always been part of what makes up Tom Izzo.

The Michigan State basketball coach has never danced around that. When Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in 2012 the London Games would be the last for him as head coach of United States men’s basketball national team, Izzo said he’d love to be considered as the team’s next head coach.

After winning gold, however, Krzyzewski back-tracked and agreed to return. It appears now that Krzyzewski really means it, saying the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will be his last.

When Izzo was asked about that on Tuesday, it was clear his feelings haven’t changed. He’d be happy to fill whatever role happened to be available.

“I think anybody would like to do it,” Izzo said. “I will still look to be a water boy on somebody’s staff. I just want to be a part of the Olympics sometime.”

Izzo has worked with USA Basketball in the past. He was an assistant coach for the Goodwill Games in 2001 and also the head coach of the 2003 Pan-Am Games.

Filling Krzyzewski’s shoes would be no simple task. He coached the U.S. to Olympic gold medals in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. He also won the 2010 world championship and the 2014 World Cup. He has a 75-1 record since he was hired by USA Basketball’s Jerry Colangelo in 2005.

As much as Izzo would relish the opportunity, he knows there are plenty of candidates.

“I think they’ll go with an NBA guy,” Izzo said. “There’s some good college guys out there, but I think there’s a couple good NBA guys, too, that I happen to respect a lot and like. If they need a water boy, I’m the guy. We will see. You never know which direction Jerry will go and how he will do it. Mike’s had an incredible run.”

In fact, Colangelo said Tuesday during an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio that the “odds are that it will be a professional coach.”

Izzo is coming off his seventh Final Four appearance last year that ended, coincidentally, in a loss to Krzyzewski’s Duke team in the national semifinals.

The Spartans will take part in Midnight Madness on Friday before beginning the exhibition season Nov. 4 against Northern Michigan and tipping off the regular season on Nov. 13 against Florida Atlantic.

Associated Press contributed