Additional Quotes >> USA 91, Argentina 76
August 30, 2007 ï¿½ Las Vegas, Nevada
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski
On tonight's game:
That was more of an international game tonight where you have to adjust. I think the physicality especially below the waist is something we haven't experienced here, that was good for us. We were a little bit sloppy in transition, I think we could have had five to 10 more fast breaks, you have to credit Argentina for getting back and making their stands. Overall I though our defense was good and we were ready to play, we have so much respect for Argentina, I thought our guys competed the whole 40 minutes as did they. We feel honored going in undefeated and playing Puerto Rico on Saturday afternoon.
Can you talk personally being at this stage again, last year being in the semi-finals, how much did that loss irk you over off season?
Obviously anytime you loose for any team you're going to feel bad. If you loose and you are representing your country, it takes on the highest level of feeling bad. You feel like you let down a whole country. These guys all know that and so do I. When you are playing for the United States or coaching there is a great deal on you to do your best and hopefully win. The thing last year, we knew we were developing the program and we still are developing the program. The lessons that we've learned and overall I think our guys did a good job. It really paid off, and we still need to get better, not just in this weekend but next summer when we play in China. We are still learning the game, we're still learning the international game.
What specific challenges does Puerto Rico present?
First off they are a very confident basketball team and they use their strengths well. The strengths are their three-point shooting, they can all hit three-point shots. When they put Sanchez at the four-five, they spread you and they cause you to have a lot of switching situations. Arroyo has always been one of the best guards internationally over the last six or seven years. Ayuso is good as three-point shooter as their could be in international play. We respect them. We played pretty good defense against them in the second quarter of our game. Defense will be a key on Saturday afternoon.
What was the big lesson you learned after last year, was there one single lesson?
The physicality of the international game, actually the collegiate game is more physical than our NBA game. Our NBA game over the last few years has, I'm not saying it's bad, it's just a different game, there is not much contact on the guy with the ball. The international game, there is a lot. I'm not saying one is better it is just really different and these guys play over 100 games a year where you are not allowed to do that, so adjusting to that. We have made a major step forward this summer.
Second straight game of being out-rebounded, with the prospect of facing bigger teams next year, how do you work to correct that?
We're going to send out rebounding drills to all the NBA teams. We only get the chance to work with these guys for a week. The other teams are good, they are going to force turnovers, you can't be so arrogant that you think you are going to play perfect, these teams are good, we know that. They're going to make you look bad at times and hopefully you'll make them look bad at times. Hopefully you do it a little bit more than they do it to you and you win. We didn't go to the offensive boards real well tonight. We just didn't go to the offensive boards tonight at all tonight. That has been a little bit of a point of emphasis for us and we have been doing a good job, again that is not the nature of our guys.
Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
What was the mindset coming into tonight's game?
We needed a fast start tonight. In the back of our minds we knew this was one of the biggest games of the tournament. We had to come out and be aggressive. Argentina is a good team, we knew they weren't going to give up but we really want this tonight.
Will momentum from this game help against Puerto Rico?
If we can use the momentum from this game throughout tourney we shouldn't have a problem. But we can't sleep on Puerto Rico. They've been playing really good so this is going to be a challenge we're ready for.
On the Defense:
Everybody wanted to play defense. Everybody wanted to stop whoever they were checking, and we are doing a good job of that now.
Was it hard to get up to play Argentina without some of their key players?
We knew that question was coming. Argentina still has a team. The guys they had out there were still good players and we couldn't sleep on them. We studied for them just as if they were going to have their whole team.
Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
You looking forward to a day off?
We're definitely looking forward to a little rest. I don't remember the last time I played six games in a row.
Your views on Puerto Rico guard Carlos Arroyo?
I know Carlos from playing with him [with Detroit Pistons]. We know he is their MVP. Our challenge is to try and stop him, slow him down. We just want to get the win. It's the biggest game of the tournament for us.
Your views of the play of Argentina tonight?
They are a really good team. They have a system they live and die by. They are tough to defend, have great shooters, and play well together. It felt like a big game, the crowd came out to support us; it was a lot of fun.
How would you rate this game?
To be honest today wasn't one of our better games. We turned the ball over too much, we weren't getting loose balls like we usually do. It probably was one of our worst games so far. But we still came out with the win and we'll go over it in film session tomorrow and Saturday and get ready for the next game.
On the game and looking to Saturday:
Although we don't feel like we played that great, it was a good game and we won. But the big game is Saturday and that's what this whole thing is about, qualifying for the Olympics. We are looking forward to that game on Saturday.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
What are you getting out of your first international experience?
It's been a lot of fun. We're just competing and working hard every day. We're just having a good time and it's been a great experience.
Is there something that you don't experience in the NBA that you don't experience out here?
The camaraderie. In the NBA there's so much travel time. Here you get a chance to be around one another all day.
Did you go ahead and set the tone tonight?
It was a little stagnant at the start. I come out and got hot early.
Talk about what it means to you to be playing on Saturday.
It's very exciting. We're close to accomplishing our goal. We're going to continue to play and to prepare ourselves so we should be good to go.
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Why is defense the main focus of this team?
That's what we have to do. That's what Coach Krzyzewski wants us to do, play great defense, and so far we're doing a great job of it. We're going to continue to get better the longer we play together.
Is there a big difference between this year's team vs. last year's?
You know we only got three guys back from last year, and this year we're really big on defense. We have all the top scorers, and now we have great defenders.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Would winning the tournament mean a lot to you guys?
Definitely. We wanted to come out and play with the same aggressiveness, the same way we've been playing the last few games. With Coach K being here for the last two years, I think that would mean a lot to him as an international coach and for us as international players.
How would you describe Coach K's style of coaching?
He's very intense. All he wants us to do is play hard and have fun.
Five guys on this team didn't go to college and now you have a college coach.
It makes it a little more special, definitely, when you got a college coach. You can experience some of the things that he go through and you can talk to him about what goes on in the college world. Not being a part of it myself, Kobe, Dwight, Amare and Tyson; all five of us not being a part of the college thing, it's pretty good.
You guys went out in the semifinals in '04 and '06. Will that experience help make you ready for the semifinals on Saturday?
It's a brand new team and we have a brand new mindset. We know how important Saturday is and we're going to go out with the same intensity we had in the first seven or eight games and take it home.
You lost to Greece one year ago. What sticks with you from that game?
For one we didn't defend the pick and roll very well in that category. We've been able to do it throughout the first seven or eight games and we'll continue to execute.
Are there certain things that stick with you as far as losing to Greece? Any bitterness at all?
It always sticks with you. We forgot about last year and brought a whole new mindset this summer. We brought together a new team and a new mindset.
They won eight in a row. Did you guys want to jump on it early? See if they had energy?
Most of us has been playing as many games as they have been playing so it wasn't about going out and caring whether they were tired or we were tired. We just wanted to keep running up and down the court, taking the open shots and making the extra passes.
It seems like the Varsity versus the JV every night. Has it seemed like that to you guys or are you just worried about yourselves?
We're just worried about ourselves. We got to continue to be better and it's all about ourselves. We don't worry about what the other teams are doing against us. We continue to talk on the defensive end, we continue to run. We are getting better and the chemistry is getting stronger in the family. The family part of our team is getting stronger.
Is it important to keep this roster right here for next year?
We have guys coming back off of injury. We have Dwyane Wade off the top of my head. Another couple of guys that didn't come out because of injury so I think Coach K and the coaching staff are going to do a great job of trying to assemble the same team as much as possible. We want to keep that same chemistry, definitely.
Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
On the Game:
I thought it went well. We set the tone. Kobe came out and set the tone extremely well right off the bat. I thought our defense was great. We let them get to the free throw line and gave up a lot of second shots and that's something we have to improve on.
On playing with Kobe:
It's too easy. The game is easy. He's a competitor out there and we all thrive on that. He makes the game easy and you saw that in the first five minutes of this game. He just dominated.
On Saturday's Qualifying game vs. Puerto Rico:
Again, this is the challenge for this team to show that we are not just about winning but playing the right way and that we are going to come out and take care of business. We understand how big this game is on Saturday because that puts us into qualifying for the Olympics and that's what we came here to do.
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons
Can you talk about your experience up to this stage and what you expect over the next three or four days?
The experience has been great, this is the first time I have played for USA Basketball at the professional level. It has been a great experience. I think you saw it in tonight's game the atmosphere was unbelievable and I thought we played hared and aggressive through out tonight's game. We didn't make smart decisions throughout the game but we played hard and we played aggressive. Going into the game on Saturday we just have to be aggressive like we have been throughout the whole tournament and take care of the basketball, we should be in good shape.
Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
Talk about how Kobe went off on that start tonight and the similar contributions that were made in the last few games.
Last night it was LeBron, a couple of games ago I had 20-something, so each night we get a different player. That's the beauty of this team. Chauncey came in and had a great night tonight as well.
Playing against an undefeated team like Argentina, was it very important to have Kobe come out that strong tonight?
It was very important. He set the right tone. He did a great job of being aggressive and not being passive.
Is this whole experience different than you thought it would be?
It's a blast. It's hard not having fun. At the same time we're keeping focused. We've done a great job of laying down our egos, laying down our games and making the main thing our team. We have to sacrifice our game a little bit in order for the team to win.
Will playing this summer help translate get you prepared for next year?
This is key. I'm glad we did play this summer. It gives us a chance to play together and learn each other. I think chemistry is very important and will help for next year. Plus you get a chance to stay in shape and play for your country. That's never a bad thing, always a great thing. So staying in shape for the season, developing camaraderie with your teammates, it's been great.
What do you think about Yi signing with the Bucks?
It was terrific for our team to sign a first round draft pick. We got it done. We didn't want it to be a distraction for our team. I've heard good things about him but I haven't seen him play yet. I'll see him in training camp.
Did Argentina surprise you tonight?
They played well. We knew they would come out and play well tonight. We had to put our hard hat on tonight and play at another level. Give them credit. They came out ready to play but we are fortunate to get the victory.
Next game vs. Puerto Rico is for the Olympic berth. What are the expectations for you guys?
High intensity. No let up. Still playing with the same hunger. Playing with humility at the same time. We have one goal in mind: that's to qualify for the Olympics and ultimately win a gold medal.
Amarï¿½ Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
What will you do to prepare for a Puerto Rico team seeking revenge?
We need to come out the same way we did previously. We need to attack them early and come out of the gate with a lot of intensity and take it from there. We're looking forward to the challenge.
Is Argentina's Luis Scola ready for the NBA?
He looks pretty good out there. He has a great feel for the game, a big body, good moves, and he looks ready to compete at this level.
SERGIO HERNANDEZ, ARGENTINA HEAD COACH
Based on how things went tonight, how competitive do you think will the next game be between your best team and the United States?
I would say that my best team is the best team because it is my team. We tried to be as competitive as we could, but the United States is a very good team. After today's game I told Coach Krzyzewski and Kobe Bryant that they have a great team that plays smart and has a lot of respect for the other teams here. I then thank them because for us it has been a great pleasure playing against them, but I also told them that the next time we will try to win again.
Do you think there is a possibility that you will play the U.S. in the finals?
That is what I am hoping for. I think everything will depend on the beginning of the game, the first fifteen minutes. If you meet a very inspired Kobe Bryant and an energetic Lebron James, you can quickly find yourself ten or fifteen points down easy. It is hard to play against the Dream Team. I also think it is much more difficult trying to make a come back if you are down those ten or fifteen points in the first few minutes. Another thing to consider is that the United States also makes you think about rotating your players more often. It is a bit mandatory because of the intensity of the game they play. Today we played thinking that our big day will be Saturday, but the next time could always have a different result.
What adjustments did you make that resulted on a more balanced game at the end?
I think that our first quarter was our worst because they surprised us with a great defense. Again, it is very difficult for us to play against the U.S. team when the score is tied, but especially if you are down in the first few minutes of the game. For that reason, we made changes and played a more physical and smart game. As a result, I think we had a better third and fourth quarters.
LUIS SCOLA BALVOA, ARGENTINA
Can you comment on going against the U.S. team as a star of the Argentinean team?
I think we all wanted to win, but the United States team is very prepared. The Dream Team has unbelievable talent and a great commitment. Nevertheless, I think we have been doing a great job in this tournament overall. I don't really believe in leaders in a team. At the end of the day when you go out there and play, you and your teammates are all the same in court. There are no leaders or stars. Today, for example, we were down 26 or 28 points, and then our reserve players came out to play and finished the game with only fifteen down. So it doesn't really matter if you are a starter or a reserve players; we all are stars in court. I think that all it matter is how well you play together as a team, and I think we have that. I'm pretty confident of that.
In this tournament you played against big men like Nene and Samuel Dalembert. How much of that do you think will help you go into your NBA career?
I don't really know because I believe it will be very different. First of all the rules are different. I also think that me here will not be the same as me in the NBA. The same happens with the other players. I think that Dalembert here is not the same as when he is in the NBA. My focus now is this tournament. I think it is really important because of the qualifications for the Olympic Games. That is what really matters to me know. We came here to do that and we are pretty close, just one game away. That is the only thing I am focusing on at the moment.