Additional Quotes >> USA 86, France 55
Aug. 15, 2010 • New York, N.Y.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Well, this is a really good experience for us. It's our first game, and I thought our defense was outstanding throughout and our effort was outstanding throughout. I thought we had a little - I thought France played well, and I thought we had a little bit of jitters to start off the game. It's the first time for most of these guys to play for our country and in a game. And that's why these exhibition games are so important for us.
I thought our defense kept us in the ballgame part of the second quarter, and then for the rest of the game I thought we really played well offensively and ran good half - court offense. So to me it was a very successful afternoon for us. We're looking forward to leaving tomorrow and going to Spain and trying to get better there.
Coach, can you talk about since Vegas you've been talking about the three - to - four - minute intervals for the players. You didn't really do that today.
I don't know if I've talked about that as being our plan of attack. But you know, as far as running against a select team and - - we're trying to find out about our team. Some of these guys you can't just play for three minutes and then rotate another group. They have to get a feel for the game. They have to get a feel for their opponent, feel for each other. So we're learning how to sub for our team. The second half I just thought we just settled down, don't put too much pressure on yourself. You don't have to be perfect. Every shot you take doesn't have to go in. Have some fun, talk, be enthusiastic and don't put a lot of pressure on yourself. And I thought we were a lot looser in the second half. I thought we played really well in the second half.
Now that McGee is no longer with the team, height is certainly a concern:
McGee wasn't playing before. So it's the same concern we had with McGee.
You used a zone defense again today. Is that sort of an attempt to mitigate the damage?
No. To mitigate damage? We don't have - - the zone will not be a mitigation - type defense. It will be a defense that we think will have an impact to stop somebody. The zone is good for this team because we have lateral quickness, and we don't have the bulk. JaVale is really good; he didn't have bulk either.
The center spot is pretty good for us with Tyson and Lamar. But the zone will be used because we think it's good. That it's really good for this team and we have one of the best teachers of it in the world in Jim Boeheim to teach it. It's been a good - - we used a little bit of it today. But we could use a lot of it, especially against a very physical team.
Mike, you've seen a lot of Chauncey over the years. What is his influence off the court, on the court? And is one more important than the other?
I think he's as important as anybody on our team, because he's the leader of our team. He's been through every experience as a player and he's been successful: He's been an NBA champ, an MVP, clutch situations. He really has a high basketball IQ. He and I have a very close relationship and we talk about the team all the time.
There are things that we just discuss that I think it's better to come out of his mouth, to make sure - - we have five kids who are 21 years old and two that are 22. This is not some type of machine. So a guy like Chauncey, who has been through it, settling somebody down, talking to them about, you're okay? Even though these guys are really good players on their NBA teams, this is just a different situation. And having Chauncey there to settle everyone down or settles an individual down, give confidence, know game situations, it's invaluable.
When did that relationship really take place?
2007. Chauncey had some family problems - - not problems. I shouldn't say "problems". Please. He had family concerns that precluded him from being on the Olympic team. Chauncey is a high - caliber player. He's a lot like - - for the Olympic team we didn't need it as much as this team needs it. Jason Kidd did that. They are just older. Not old, older veterans who have the experience that these guys are trying to get. He can help them with it.
Can you talk about the impact Iguodala has without scoring the ball?
Iguodala has been as good as anybody we have had so far. His defense is just at the highest level. He's really one of the great defenders, I think. But he has scored the ball well. Today I think he had two shots, and it didn't stop him from playing defense. I even talked to him right after the game. I said, "I'll try to get you more than two shots." He said, "No, Coach, I'm okay." I said, "I know you're okay."
We haven't worked on our half - court offense as much. We have had a limited amount of time. We've tried to get defense and rebounding first. And I think the defense and rebounding efforts have shown up today so far. Now when we go to Spain, we have to add a little bit more of a precise half - court offense, and Andre will be more involved in that. He has been terrific for us.
Two - part question: Tyson Chandler with the injury problems he's had over the last couple of years, he's really looked great for you.
Yes, he has.
Can you summarize his play? Second part, how will you play differently with the traditional center versus the non - traditional?
Tyson has been outstanding. We have a relationship from the 2007 qualifying team. One, he is such a good team member. Even when we're in the meal room, he'll make sure he's eating with different players. He's talking up. He doesn't need the ball. He's stronger. I bet he's at least probably 15 pounds heavier and stronger than he was in 2007. He feels healthy. You get these guys who are good players who have been out with injury and all of a sudden they start -- they're really excited. That's where Tyson is.
Lamar could play the traditional center or the non - traditional. In other words, he can spread the court more. He can hit the three, he can handle the ball. The court is a little bit more spread with him in.
Both those guys gives us a little bit different look when each guy comes in. They've been really good. I feel really comfortable rotating those two guys in there.
Coach, yesterday you talked about wanting to see those NBA egos and maybe a little bit of swagger from your guys. Is that what we saw in the second and third quarters there?
Yeah. I think this group is really a good group. I can't tell you intangible - wise it's off the charts with attitude, team, hard work, "I'll do anything", all that. Let's start there. That's a good place to start. Now let's get them back to doing that with what they do with the Bulls and the Sixers and you know all the teams, the Clippers, whatever team they play on.
That's part of these exhibition games, to find that. I thought we played every play hard today. I thought we played every play as a team today. We just weren't very sharp offensively. Give credit to France for that, too. They switched a lot. They're a smart team, well coached. And it took us a little bit of time to get adjusted to that.
I like this group a lot. It's a young group and not a very bulky group, but it's a real good group of guys.
Coach, Rondo didn't get credit for a steal in this game. I imagine if you counted deflections he had 10 to 15. Can you talk about how - -
He and Derrick are really doing a great job on the ball, and Russell when you bring him in. But it starts with Rondo. He wants to play defense. And he knows that the people behind him are playing defense, too. So a lot of times a guard who puts pressure on the ball, it's not used well. Because the rest of the guys will allow passes and stuff like that. But he knows, especially with Iguodala there and a veteran like Chauncey behind him, the perimeter is defended very well. Him going after the ball like he does disrupts the half - court offense.
He came close to getting a couple, but when you're playing against him and you get the ball knocked out of bounds or whatever, it still takes you a little bit out of your game. I thought he played very well today.
Have you talked to him about exactly how aggressive you want him to be, whether he needs to take it back a little bit or be even more aggressive?
It's all about fouls. The foul situation. We don't want to get - - I think we did a good job, they shot less than 10 free - throws. So we can be a little bit more aggressive until we get to the fourth team foul. Not being stupid about it, you know. But you can go after people. And then you have to go after them smarter once you get the fourth team foul.
That's going to be a big thing for us. I just tell them to see what the nature of the game is, who you are covering, can he go by you? Is he a guy if he can go by he doesn't create those type of things? Obviously, he's been in a lot of games. He has a high basketball IQ also.
The French coach talked about having a shorter bench playing guys like Boris many more extended minutes. You guys have just a handful guys even approaching 20. Can you talk about what you like about the depth and being able to roll these guys in and out?
The main thing we like about it is the fact that we can keep up constant pressure defensively. Because of our lack of size, our bulk, we're all going to have to rebound. And so a guard is not only pressuring the ball, the guards are rebounding the ball. A couple of our fast breaks came as a result of guard rebounds. The guard rebound that Jason Kidd has made famous and actually Rondo has with the Celtics.
Our depth, I think we're going to find that every game there might be two different people who - - like today Chauncey and Rudy were outstanding. Yesterday when we scrimmaged, Granger was 9 for 12; he didn't score today but he still played hard. So that type of thing is good. We need to get minutes for everybody. They won't necessarily be exactly the same number of minutes, and they shouldn't be. But we'll keep getting a better feel for our team.
You mentioned yesterday that Eric Gordon hasn't had a bad day with the team.
No, he hasn't.
He excelled in the second half today. Even mostly a spot - up shooter on offense and a strong defender. How much of an asset is he to the team?
He's outstanding. He's a guy that can be on the bench and come off and still score. I think Granger is like that, too. A lot of guys have to get themselves into a ballgame. Eric doesn't have to touch the ball long, either. Same thing with Dan. They stretch a defense, and if you're off of them, they both shoot the same shot, their own same shot all the time. So there's no movement. They know their shot. And when they spread and they're open, they're going to shoot it. They have a great chance of hitting it.
Both of them are good drivers, because if they close out on you - - Eric is a real strong driver. Danny is like a deceptive guy who can get fouled while he's driving.
Coach, as far as going from 13 to 12, have these guys made that decision a lot tougher than maybe you thought it would be before this week started?
Most definitely. That's a good question and a good point. The final decision will be one that we make because of our three exhibition games after this. And just what do we think at that moment we need a little bit more than the other guys. But we will cut - - we will select. I hate to use the word "cut" because these guys are not cut. They're not selected. They're part of our pool. We will not select a strong quality and a good player, whoever that one guy will be. I think it will become more evident what we have to do when we go through these exhibition games.
Coach, would you talk about what you hope to see from Derrick Rose over these coming weeks as players settle into their roles?
I think Derrick is going to keep getting better. Again, he plays so hard. His ball pressure is unbelievable. But he also wants it sometimes so badly that when it doesn't happen, he's hard on himself. That's why he's such a good player. He has such high standards. He wants it to be exactly right right now. This is so important for him.
Those are good places to be with players, instead of a guy who, I'm not sure I want to do this or whatever. Derrick - - I love Derrick. I think he's an exceptional kid. And I think he's going to end up being a great player. He has to find his niche in this group right now. And he's finding it. He's finding it. We have to help him a little bit more.
Kevin still finding his niche and his role in that half - court set?
Yeah, I think they all are. First of all, because we haven't worked as much on the half court. We have had quick hitters, we've been fast breaking a lot. And today France took away some of our fast - break opportunities. We kind of just went down and stood. We need to get - - when they stop your initial thrust, you need to go into something quickly. This is the first game. As the game went along, we did a much, much better job of that. Thank you.
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS (Denver Nuggets)
What do you think of the crowd, the atmosphere today for the game?
It was great. It was great. This is kind of what you expect being in The Garden. This is the first time I've been in The Garden and people have been cheering for me, though. So that was a little different.
But it was awesome, man. It was awesome. This is like I say, our last time playing on American soil. So we wanted to try to put on a show for the home crowd and at the same time work on something.
Was it as easy as the score indicates?
I wouldn't say so. Got off to a tough start. A couple of times, three turnovers in a row. Three missed shots in a row. But I think that's just us playing our first game. First game jitters. Wanting to be really good, instead of just settling down and just letting the game come to us, which we eventually did. But you know, it was a good on the court.
On the team:
We are still trying to get to know each other and execute.
On the team getting better:
We have to get better in practice. Once we have the roster set, we will be able to focus more on whose role is what.
On today’s performance:
I give us a B minus. It was alright.
You have a lot of young players on a high level, really don't have a lot of international experience. How important is it to really get these games, these early games in to just try to get them adjusted to the international game?
That's a challenge. That is a challenge. That is going to be tough for us. Just trying to get experience when not playing that many games. So we try to assimilate in the game - type situations and practice. We try to get better in practice. That's one of the things we try to do and then we had a scrimmage yesterday. With the game against France we'll have a couple more exhibitions on the way to Turkey. That's a challenge that we do have. There's not a lot of experience on this team. At the same time everybody is hungry and everybody wants to come back a winner. So we're going to have to cover that experience up with playing hard.
Tyson Chandler now is the only true center on the team. Is that a concern? And how will you play differently maybe when Tyson is in versus when you have Lamar or Kevin or somebody at center?
Tyson has been great, man. I'm really happy Tyson is healthy. He's been playing great. We're definitely happy to have him. We're going to lean on him a lot. When he's not in the game, Lamar of course is one of the most versatile players in basketball. So he can play the five and I think we'll have an advantage when he's at the five because he can handle the ball, put it on the floor, he can pass and he can finish. So he's going to bring those opposing fives out and have to play on the perimeter, which I'm sure they're not very comfortable doing.
Is it fair to say you're closer to where you want to be defensively than offensively? And what are the things offensively that need to improve?
I think right now for sure our defense is a little ahead of our offense. But that's a good problem to have. Defense is all effort and will. And offense is kind of knowing each other and being cohesive with one another and being able to execute. So of course we've been together a month. We've been together a month. That's something that kind of comes as you go.
The one thing I thought we did a better job of for the most part today was not turning the ball over as much as we have in the past. Not knowing where guys want to be at. But we did a pretty good job of not turning over as much. So the more we can get a little more cohesive, the more that number comes down, and we're getting shots instead of turning the ball over, we're going to be dangerous, man.
How do you like the team with Rajon in the back court? Is it nice to have him hawking the ball, walking the ball up full court?
Definitely. My rule is whoever I'm in the game with, D Rose, Rondo, you all pick up full. I have had my days of doing that.
I like playing with Rondo, man. He's a winner. He's a winner. I love playing with winners. Guys that know how to play the game. Guys that every possession know what it means. And we should have a pretty successful back court.
About your defense, you're trying to play a lot of zone defense, am I right?
We switch it up a little bit. We switch it up a little bit. The zone is not our primary defense. But it's a defense that we've tinkered with a little bit just to try to - - one, I think is great to run out of the zone when you get the rebound. Two, rebounding is going to be our key throughout this whole tournament. So I think the zone puts you in a better position. Everybody is closer to the paint as far as to get the rebound. So we're tinkering with a lot of different things right now.
On the size of the team:
We're a small team. We're going to have to play like that. We're going to have to play two point guards on the floor, pretty much. And hopefully we can be successful with that. We have two play - makers, two guards that can break the defense down, get in there and create some havoc.
Do you think there's going to be a lot of focus on Kevin?
I think it will be. I think it will be. I will take some of the roles. Some other guys will pick up some roles. We don't want to put too much pressure on them. We have to be successful each night. We don't want to put internal pressure that we need to score 30 points every night. We don't want to do that. If he does that, it's beautiful. But we don't want to put that pressure on him.
On Kevin Durant:
He's going to score. He's our best player. He's going to be the guy that really shoots the most shots. We're going to play through him. At the same time, we're not going to put too much pressure on him.
What do you think you learned about yourself today?
Playing a real game against some real competition. I said this many times, it's going to be rebounds. We have a small team and we have to gang rebound. Guards have to get in there, everybody has to. I feel if we can do that, we can be successful. It's going to be a challenge.
Can you talk about where your defense was at compared to where the offense was?
I thought our defense was good. Our offense is behind. Offense is execution. Offense is knowing each other. Executing. Getting shots to go down. So offense is a little behind the defense at this point.
TYSON CHANDLER (Dallas Mavericks)
Could you just talk about getting some more international experience under your belt with France?
This is really good. It was really good for us as a unit. I think it was a good game as far as they came out and they played us close in the first half. And we came out in the second half and I think our defense really wore on them and our defense turned into offense.
What did Coach K talk to you about at halftime?
Just to continue to play solid. Continue to allow our defense to turn into offense. In the game the other day, we did a good job of kind of playing simple defense. And not doing so much gambling. And we gambled at the right times. I think tonight we did that. That's why we were able to bust the lead open.
You guys had a couple of turnovers that were soft passes. Is that a matter of taking a little more time with each other?
Yeah, yeah. It's a matter of a little more time, communication. Us understanding each other. Me and Rondo missed each other right at the beginning of the game. Right when we came over to the sideline, me and Rondo had a chance to talk and they told me, look when we come, this is where the pass is going to be. This is where it's going to come from every time. In the second half I was looking for it. And then it's that kind of communication that ultimately is going to make us better.
STEPHEN CURRY (Golden State Warriors)
On playing in the lineup he was with today:
We're still in the experimental phase with that lineup. So I'm glad to get out there and play no matter what I do.
What's the challenge for you?
Just try to get in a rhythm. When you get in there it's tough to do this. It's different from an NBA game, we come from our respective teams. You know the rotations and you are prepared. You can't do that. It takes longer to have to adjust on the fly.
On heading to Spain as one of the final 13 members of the USA team:
I made it this far. I'm happy to have made it past the two cuts. I have to keep playing hard. I'm not going to put any extra pressure on myself to go out and compete against Eric. We have to continue to support each other, go out and do what we all do best and play well. No matter what happens, happens. I'm not trying to treat it as a one - on - one against him.
KEVIN DURANT (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Do you feel the team has something to prove?
We do have something to prove. Of course we want to go to the game winning. The big - name guys aren't here, people are counting us out. We have something to prove. Tonight was a good start, I think. We are looking forward to going to Europe. We're going to Madrid tomorrow and practicing and getting a couple of games in as well.
On his Thunder teammate Jeff Green not being on the team:
I'm going to represent for him. I love him as a brother. He knows the business type of deal. He's perfectly fine with it. He's going to come back in the season with a chip on his shoulder and ready to work. I know Jeff. I'll be talking to him every day when I'm over there.
All you guys are established NBA players, and you come into this situation and some guys get a call and say, you're not on the team. That's probably the first time in their lives they've ever been cut. Do you talk about that whole concept with each other experiencing that for the first time?
These guys are grown. Of course they aren't going to take it as hard as they would when they were young. They've been around this game for a couple of years, they know the difference. They know they're going to be cut. Anybody could be cut, so everybody was prepared for it.
It is something different. Guys are used to being the main guy on the team all the time. Even people that were cut have are used to being the main guy on their team. Guys have to sacrifice. (Inaudible) It is what it is. You have the guys that you have here now. We're looking forward to moving forward.
RUDY GAY (Memphis Grizzlies)
Competition was little bit better than yesterday, wasn't it?
Yeah. Yeah. A lot of league players and a lot of former league players. They know the game a little better. Playing every team the same. Hopefully the same will come out of it.
How important is it to have these exhibition games to be able to build chemistry and everything else?
It's so important being that we needed this so much because they had already played about three or four exhibition games. That is new team. Some of these teams have been playing together since they were little, so it's very important for us to get together and learn how to play with each other.
After you guys built a lead looked like you were having fun out there. Some nice dunks for the crowd.
I mean, it's always good to play with the lead, if one of those dunks didn't go down, it would have been bad. It's just better with the lead.
How fun is it being out there with these guys?
It's great being around these guys. We don't really get a chance to be around each other during the season. Playing with different teams and have different jobs. It's good to learn a little bit, from Lamar, Chauncey and other people.
ERIC GORDON (Los Angeles Clippers)
On team’s defense:
Our chemistry on defense has been really, really good. We definitely have to work together as a team because we’re picking up full court for the whole game. As long as we stay together and really get after it, we’ll be fine as a team.
Did you ever think that one day you would be playing for the USA in the World Championship?
Oh, yeah. It's a good experience for me. I'm just glad to be a part of this and just enjoy the experience.
Those that have been there and done that in the international level, what have they imparted on to you?
Just keep working hard. You are playing with good guys every day. You are going to actually play against different countries with different styles. It's going to be a good experience and worth working.
You're prepared for adjustment into international play?
You know, it's very different. You have guys - - it's more penetrating on offense. And defensively we're really getting after it full court. It's very different.
What have they told you about that's different from the NBA?
Haven't really gotten into that. I'm pretty sure it's like the same thing. Maybe a little different.
You keep hearing it's a little more physical, don't you?
Yeah, it's been physical out there. Those guys holding and grabbing. It's physical.
Do you think it is a little more physical? Have you heard that?
I've heard that. I don't know. It's hard to tell.
What are you guys told to work on as a team?
Keep on playing together. That's the main thing. Work on probably getting better. We really played fine. I think we have good team chemistry, too. So I think we'll be fine in the long run.
ANDRE IGUODALA (Philadelphia 76ers)
I feel great. I'm truly happy right now. This is great to be a part of USA Basketball organization with these great players. I feel like I can contribute a lot to the game. I only had two points; I'm happy. We're in the program. I learned something today that I can get back to the team. I'm going to bring my hard work each day and do what I have to do to help us win and I want a gold medal.
Two more hard minutes, two more hard minutes and we're going to run. The coach is great in taking us out. I'm definitely going to take that back with me.
LAMAR ODOM (Los Angeles Lakers)
All we're doing is working really hard to get better and better and better. And sometimes when you work hard and you scrap out, you always feel like you could have played better. It was all about winning the game, playing hard, playing great defense. If we keep doing that, we'll make ourselves the best defensive team in the tournament, then we're going to end up with an A.
Can you compare where this team is at now to where the '04 team was coming out of Jacksonville?
It's completely different. The atmosphere, the ambience, the process of how they picked the team. That team thought they were going to win, and this team thinks they're going to win. The overall feel is just a little different.
When that team got on the plane going to Hamburg, it wasn't the happiest team given the circumstances, right?
Just a different situation.
RAJON RONDO (Boston Celtics)
They are always looking for you to pass. Even if it's an opportunity to score with a group like this, I would imagine - -
Definitely. The floor will be spread and I'll be into the gaps and into the paint and create havoc and try to get easy lay - ups.
Does having a backup point guard, like in Boston you haven't had a real backup point guard. Does having one here allow you to be more aggressive defensively?
Not only that. But also no one is going to play over 20 minutes here. So you have to go all out. Not that I'm pacing myself like in the NBA games. It's a long season. This is only nine games. We have six guards here, five are points and a combo. For the most part I'm trying to go all out. I'm coming out within four minutes.
Is that your goal to get your hands on as many balls as you can?
Yeah, trying to cause havoc for the points, especially a bigger point like today. I'm a smaller, quicker guard so I'm trying to use my advantage and picking the ball and turning it around and poking it every once in a while.
35 is like a low number for you in the NBA, now you're not going to crack 20 minutes.
Like me and Chauncey talked about we don't have a problem with it. We're not complaining in this game about minutes. I love to play. Obviously a guy like KD out in the last three minutes. (Inaudible) guys want to play the game. We're still young. We know here it's a different task. And we have so many different weapons here. I'm happy staying on the bench as well.
DERRICK ROSE (Chicago Bulls)
How do you feel like you played today?
I feel I played good. Besides the turnovers. My role has changed. I come in, I have to apply the defense. When I get the ball, I have to get out and run, put pressure on other people. Like on this team I don't need to score at all. Like I said, I have other great scorers on this team and people that can score the ball even more better than I can.
Do you enjoy being in that situation where you have so many options like that?
Yeah. Great shooters. I wish it was my real team. Great shooters, everything. But it's great being on the team.
How do you feel like this experience is preparing you for the up - coming season with Coach Thibodeau and the new players you have?
Especially defensively it's great. Because the same defense we run here, Coach Tom Thibodeau is going to be running it for the Bulls. Being here is going to be prepared for it. When it comes to training camp, I'll be kind of used to it. So it's just helping me out.
The adjustment process to learn like a new defense and everything, how are you - -
It's good. It's coming along. Just working on it. My biggest thing is giving it to people in certain ways.
With this win over France you're going to have a little trash talking with Joakim?
I was surprised he didn't play. He has a lot of stuff going on right now.
I'm going to talk a little trash to him because I know if he was in my position he would be talking trash to me.
On France’s play in first half:
They played hard. They came out and had confidence that they could beat us. When we play we can’t give other teams confidence.
On team’s rotation:
We won the game so nobody should be complaining about anything. Everybody got a chance to play and we won, so everyone should walk away with a positive attitude.
On his play:
I think I did alright. I hate turnovers, but I think I did alright applying pressure to the ball and making sure that they weren’t in their sets like they were supposed to be.