Additional Quotes >> USA 112, Venezuela 69
August 22, 2007 ï¿½ Las Vegas, Nevada
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski
We are really happy about our performance. Venezuela played so hard and we played hard. Our talent level showed but also how well these guys have been playing together. Very unselfish and we played outstanding defense. I am really pleased with our first performance.
You had Kobe hounding their point guard and throwing himself on the floor in the second quarter did that kind of set the tone?
Yes it did. Our defense has really set the tone. Selfless play like that, that anyone of our guys would make. Kobe is the one that made it tonight but anyone of our guys will make that play. That does set the tone. And the fact that he wanted to play defense. You have a guy that has had a lot of 50 point games in the league and he wants to play defense. That's a pretty nice thing.
It seemed you started off slow offensively trying to get the whole team going. Is that because guys are trying to get used to each other?
I didn't think that we were slow offensively. I thought we missed free throws and we missed some great shots including a couple of dunks. Offensively I was pleased, again, the ball has to go in. The offensive performance was good. It was hard to believe that at halftime we had shot over 50 percent.
On Venezuela committing a lot of fouls:
If we play at that tempo, you almost have to foul, because we're playing very fast and we're attacking. Usually you don't foul that doesn't attack. Venezuela attacked. That is why we got into foul trouble in two of the quarters, they were an attacking team. We're going to try and continue to attack.
You seemed to focus every time somebody was interior cuts in the lane, the team seemed to pick it up right away. Although you didn't do as much back cutting as we've seen in the past is that a matter of personnel or is that a matter of a real concentration?
Our guys are communicating well defensively. They hit some tough shots, they hit some tough three's. I thought our team tried to play each possession hard. If we do that then we are going to continue to get better. This is really our first game that these guys have played together. We have eight new guys on this team. Actually this is the first international game for I think seven of our players. We're still learning about the game.
Were you surprised about the sparse crowds out there tonight?
No not really. They were a very vocal and appreciative crowd. I think because there are four games in and 10 games in 12 days and its summer. We appreciate the fan support and it was a televised game and that has something to do with it I'm sure. I think the fans were very appreciative of both teams. I think that both teams played so hard.
You coached the USA team at the World Championships in 1990 in Argentina. What is the biggest difference in coaching this team now?
We coached all college kids. Russia and Yugoslavia are still together, two teams we faced. We had good players and we came in third. It's a game for men. The college kids can no longer compete at the championship level, a whole team of them, or the Olympic level. World basketball is too advanced for that.
Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Can you talk about the start you got off to tonight?
We just wanted to be aggressive from the jump. I think we did good with that. Kobe Bryant really set the tone on the defensive end pushing up on guys and getting a couple of steals. We fed off that.
What do you think you need to work on moving forward?
Fouls. We gave up a lot of fouls, but I'm pretty sure we can get better.
Talk about how you came together this week and how it's worked tonight.
I think we got better each day in training camp. Tonight we really wanted to be aggressive from the gate. Kobe did a good job setting the tone on the defensive end. We put him on the point guard and he did a real good job. We fed off that.
Can you talk about not only trying to qualify for Beijing, but trying to establish US dominance here?
That was the real point and I think tonight that was our main goal tonight, to dominate. Not try to embarrass, but dominate. I think we did good with that.
Talk about that one play where four of you guys got to touch the ball and Kobe finished with the dunk.
We all always know where everybody is at on the court. We are all superstars on the team so there is no need for anybody to be selfish. Tonight we showed that we could be unselfish.
When guys like Redd and Mike Miller are knocking down shots, it's pretty hard to guard. You cant guard the big guys, you can't guard the guards- you got guys knocking the shots down and its real hard.
What did you think of the crowd tonight, did you think there would be more people?
A little bit. I thought it was going to be more packed, a sell-out crowd but I'm pretty sure it will get there throughout the tournament.
Did it affect your start at all? It was kind of quiet here in the beginning.
Once we get on the court we're not really worrying about who's in the stands. I almost forgot we were in the United States for a minute playing basketball. We're so used to playing overseas in these kinds of tournaments.
Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
You guys put on a show, how do you feel you will do when you go against Brazil?
Brazil is a really good team. They have a lot of NBA players that have been together for a long time and it will be a good game. We are looking forward to it.
What can you tell me about Leandro Barbosa?
He is very quick, very, very good player, fast, great shooter, finishes well around the basket. You have to kind of pressure him and make him take tough shots and make him play defense as well.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Did you expect LeBron to slip you that ball in the second quarter?
That was great man. A perfect play. Now the public has a chance to see what's been going on behind close doors -- some of the plays that guys are making. It was an unbelievable pass.
We did a great job moving the ball and it all starts on the defensive end. It was a good start for us tonight. We played very very unselfishly, keyed in on defense, and it was a good win. A good start.
You sacrifice your summer- I'm curious how you compensate? For a guy with a family, what sorts of things do you do to compensate?
You bring your family out here. You focus in on training, but all of our families are here to enjoy this experience with us.
What do you think it does for a career?
You have a chance to represent your country. It really is everything. You're not just playing for a particular region. You're playing for your country as a whole and when the opportunity presents itself, you have to take it.
You guys were clicking in a way that was good- does it get better than that? How does it get better than that?
I believe so. We continue to work hard in practice, work on our timing, work on our rhythm. We can get much better.
Just playing, trying to stay in rhythm. It's watching the officiating, learning what you can and cant do. I just want to lock in defensively. The offensive will be there when things come in rhythm and the flow of the game. Other than that I just want to do what I can defensively and try and help us win ball games.
What did you pick up about the officiating?
Well, a lot of things you can get away with in the NBA, you can't get away with here, and vice versa. Here there a some things they are a little bit more loose about when playing with the FIBA rules that they are tight in the NBA about. It's a balancing act. You can hand check a little bit more here. I think the body is something that's called a little bit more, but the hand checking you can get away with a little bit.
Did you think it might take you a couple of days to get your feet wet in your first international games?
Yeah, its always an adjustment because of the rules and the different style of play. A little bit but I think defensively you jump in there, you throw yourself into that, you don't worry about the offensive end of the floor because you have so many weapons.
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
On the first game:
I think it was great. We played together. We played well; passed the ball, really locked in on defense. We talked. We did some good things and now we have to keep it up.
On the defense:
That's the main things: to play great D, to talk and being aggressive and not trying to do too much. Just play solid.
On playing with point guards like Kidd and Billups:
Probably two of the greatest point guards ever. I'm happy to be on this team and do whatever I can to contribute, and hopefully we can win the gold.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Are you pleased with the start tonight from an overall team perspective?
Absolutely. You know the tournament is going to get a lot harder than what it was tonight, but as a team I think we played well, we shared the ball well. We did everything we needed to do to win a ball game.
You looked like you were trying to set the tempo for the team with your hustle tonight, can you talk a little bit about trying to lead on the court?
That's just my natural reaction. Being the lead out there on the court, being able to talk defensively and help guys get through screens and things like that. I'm going to go out there an talk, try to communicate the best I can on the defensive end.
We just started being more patient, making more passes. We got up and down, got an opportunity to get our second wind. This is the first time we played with a crowd in a long time, so guys caught their second wind and we slowed it down too.
How about that play you all four touched it? You had the behind-the-back pass to Kobe, pretty sensational.
It was pretty good. Any time you get your teammates the ball, especially on a play like that, it gets the crowd excited, gets us excited on the other end to play defense. Its just me being myself, being unselfish. I saw Kobe trailing and he just finished it.
You've only had a week- Carmelo saw you cutting, he hit you in stride- it usually takes some time to develop.
Offensively it takes a lot longer than defensively. Defensively you can talk your way through mistakes. Offensively you have to be in sync. It looks like we're improving on the offensive end and we can still improve. We know we didn't do as well as we could on the offensive end, even though we scored a lot of points, but we're going to get better.
Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
You guys had set the tone defensive pressure man-to-man, off the top then you started playing zone a little then it seemed like the Venezuelans got into a little bit of a rhythm too. How is for you guys because you guys don't play a lot of zone. How is that for you guys because you don't play a lot of zone, how did if feel going from a man-to-man to a zone and how did the transition go for you?
I think that is something that we are trying to work on during practices this past week. I thought we came with a great tempo we were aggressive on the defensive end, everyone was talking everyone was engaged. We want to be able to show different looks to keep our opponent off our stride. You've got to give them some credit, they made some tough shots.
First of all, how satisfying is it for you to be back apart of team USA again and secondly talk about the role you play on this team.
I am very honored to have this opportunity to play for my country. I have always enjoyed this challenge. I am very honored to be with this talented group especially Coach K. For me, my role is to come out with some energy defensively and to make the game as easy as possible on the offensive end. Find the open guy. Keep guys focused for 40 minutes and have fun doing it.
Jason is it your philosophy to kind of always push the up tempo for the team or slow it down or whatever the defense gives you?
I think for this team, we like to get out and run. I think we can also play in the half court and be patient and make that extra pass. I think that you saw that tonight, it wasn't so much one-on-one as you see in the NBA. Guys were driving and making the extra pass, you saw the bench up cheering one another. You don't get to see that in the NBA but you got to see that tonight from some NBA players. That's our game, to get out and make the easy basket.
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons
It was the first game tonight probably eight or nine thousand, not a huge crowd, but was it a little intimidating for you?
No, not at all. These guys on this team we are playing with are going to play all out. Whether there are 10 people or 20,000 once they step on the court they are going to go all out. I felt like out guys went all out on both ends and it showed at the end.
What do you think about your teams outside shooting tonight?
It got better as we went along. Most importantly we did a good job of attacking and getting to the foul line. We were in the bonus throughout the game.
Amarï¿½ Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
How does it feel to get started in the tournament?
It felt great man. First game tonight we felt good about ourselves we were definitely ready we came out on top and played hard all night.
What adjustments do you see your team making?
We did a great job defensively. I think we came out from the start and denied the ball well and just having a great all around defensive game and that is what led us to victory. It's a lot of fun when you are playing together and you are playing great defense. It feels great to play with these guys we jumped out early defensively and we got a win too.
Seemed like offense was an issue for you?
We got guys that are scoring champs and they came in. Offense is not really an issue. I think defense is what we really try to focus on and coach does a great job of telling us his strategy and we go out there and execute.
What kind of talent level were you playing against tonight?
They were descent; they came out and gave a solid effort. They played hard, obviously the best that Venezuela has and you can't underestimate there team every body comes to play and they are grateful to be in this spot so they will play harder tonight.