Day One Practice Quotes: USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski & U.S. Players Ryan Anderson, Mike Conley, Anthony Davis, Derrick Favors & Doug McDermott
July 22, 2013 ē Las Vegas, Nev.
Mike Krzyzewski (USA head coach, Duke University)
On returning as the USA Basketball Men's National Team Head Coach:
I would hate to say that anyone had to hard-sell asking anybody to be the coach of the national team. I think it's more two guys who have worked together for seven years realizing there is a lot of pressure and a lot of time commitment, to make sure that you are as excited and ready to do this again because you can't short change, as player or coach, the national team. And I know that I won't, and I know that the guys we pick won't.
What changed your mind and made you want to return?
The main thing is I knew I am going to coach for a number of years, even though I'm an older guy. That was the main thing about thinking I wasn't going to coach.
You thought you would leave Duke, too?
Not leave Duke -- stop coaching. I would never leave Duke. I love Duke. At some time you are going to stop coaching, and a year or so ago I was thinking a little bit about that, and I'm not thinking about that at all anymore and haven't been for a while -- maybe during the second half of the Louisville game in the Elite Eight (laughs). Other than that, I've been thinking about going forward.
What does coaching the best players in the universe do for you?
I'll just correct you in one case -- most of the great, best players in the world are in the United States, but not all of them. There are great players all over this planet. To coach our country's best players is the best thing that could happen to a coach. Especially in the way that these players have given themselves to the national program, in a very humble way and maintaining their own egos but not letting them supplant the overwhelming ego of being on the U.S. team. So, we've had great, great cooperation from the players.
If you had to pick one quality that you look for in players that are in this gym right now, what would it be?
Well, there has to be a level of talent and the ability to blend your talent willingly with other people who have talents. And that cooperation is needed without giving up too much of your game, but blending your talents with other talented people in a willing manner. In other words, where the U.S. doesn't beat itself. If we are going to get beat somebody else should beat us, but we shouldn't ourselves.
How do you determine that during a mini-camp?
The mini-camp, we are not going to pick a team from the mini-camp. This is for us to get to know these players. We know a number of them. Obviously, Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams know them better. Indoctrinate them a little bit into our program. We are running this like, 'You guys are in the pool and on the team,' and we get to know one another, so that next year around this time they'll be picking a certain group of players to go forward for the (FIBA) World Cup.
What have you seen from DeMarcus Cousins?
You know, I'm not going to single out any one player, because I'm watching everybody. That would not be right for me to talk about one player, because there are 28 of them here. I'm not watching one guy all the time. These guys have talent. They made a commitment to come here. So, we are just trying to make sure that we can run an organized practice for 28 guys and give them an opportunity to blend and show their stuff.
What do you need to do find some size and height at this camp?
Well there is size. There are number of good big guys here, and remember the pool of players starts over now. It's a new four-year period, but we are hoping a number of the guys who have played will continue to play. In our last two competitions, in Istanbul for the (2010) World Championship and in London, the four and five at times were played by LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Antony, or Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay and Lamar Odom, and we've won both of them. So, it's not just about finding a big, it's about finding versatile players who can play multiple positions, and that's an advantage we have. Just like at the point guard, you don't need a true point guard if you are playing with LeBron, Kobe and Durant, because these guys need the ball. So, everybody kind of adapts to play a game that's conducive to our style, and it doesn't necessarily have to be one-through-five or differentiate guys in that way.
Why did you return to coach?
I love United States basketball, and I know I'm going ot continue to coach. The only reason I said that I thought I was not going to do it was, one, to give USA Basketball an opportunity to make changes that they feel would be in the best interest of the game and also because I'm 66, I wasn't sure how long I was going to coach. I'm sure that I'm going to coach for a while, through the Olympcis by far, and so it's a combination. They wanted to continue to do stuff with me, and I wanted to continue to do something with them. You shouldn't be a retired coach coaching the national team. You should be an active coach. It's just too cutting edge. You have to be on the firing line.
After day one, you are stil lhappy about that decision?
That's not a decision I ever revisit. I mean, I'm honored, excited, but we spend a lot of time. I know it looks like this should be easy to do but when you are planning for 28 players and doing this prep, I can't even begin to tell you how much time it's taken, and it ran well today. We owe it to these players to run an organized, really competitive practice, and we'll try to do that again tomorrow.
Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Pelicans)
What were your thoughts on the first day?
It was a great day. It really was. Just being able to compete with these guys and be out here in the middle of the summer having a run like this is pretty amazing. And also, to have the opportunity to play for my country, itís an honor, an incredible honor. The first day was great. It can only get better. Iíve got to get that shot going with these different balls and everything, but Iím good.
Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)
On the first practice:
There was a lot of energy at practice. Everybody was intense, they paid attention to detail and we got after it. We started scrimmages and got into real, live game situations, and each team competed. It's going to be a struggle here for the first few days, learning new plays and trying to work through it, but I thought everybody did great.
Is it a challenge to balance new information with wanting to play your best and play to your strengths?
For me, obviously you are going to be excited. You are playing against the best guys in the league, and you are getting a great opportunity here. You just want to go out there and not put too much pressure on yourself and play the game you love to play, have fun with it, because not everybody gets this opportunity.
What strengths are you trying to put on display?
Defensively, I'm known for being a defensive guy -- trying to pick up, create turnovers, create havoc. Offensively, being that assertive leader, being a play maker, shooting when I have the opportunity, but mostly making plays for the other guys.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
What was this first day like for you?
It was great. We put in a couple sets, went up-and-down a little bit. It was great for us. It was really great, and I think stuff like this makes each other better, makes us better as players. And as a team, great chemistry. Everybody was out here talking. You donít expect that, for guys to talk on the first day, talking defensively, so no one will get hurt. That was a great thing.
Nothing too surprising?
No, not really too much. We expect every day to be like this and go a little up-and-down and drills and stuff like that and get ready to play in the game on Thursday.
All of the young guys want to come and be a part of this now. Why are the young guys buying into this?
I think itís just something special. You see a lot of guys ĎOh I have a gold medal, I play on the Olympic team, I represent USA.' A lot of guys want to represent USA, and this is a big deal for guys. I know itís a big deal for me, and Iím pretty sure the guys feel the same way. I think itís just a big deal and a fun experience. You always want to add to your resume. Putting the Olympic team on there is a big plus. Just going out and representing your country, only I think 12-15 guys can do that each year. So itís definitely a big part and a great experience.
What did you take away from London and the whole experience?
It was great. I didnít play much, and when I was sitting there watching, I was just taking in a lot of detail and a lot of how the guys work ó their professionalism, how they talk on the floor and everything like that. I brought that back to New Orleans and it helped me a lot, and it helped the organization a lot. All the stuff that I learned Iím trying to express to these guys is that itís fun. You want to be on a team like that. Itís real fun and very humbling.
Derrick Favors (Utah Jazz)
On returning after playing on the 2012 Select Team:
I went through the same drills and everything last year with the select team, and coming in this year, I pretty much know what to expect and how to approach it. Last year helped me out.
Are you an improved player from last year?
I have been working out all season on my body, just getting in better shape, doing a lot of skill work, and I've been in the weight room a lot. So, like I said, I was prepared for this.
What strengths are you trying to demonstrate for the coaches?
I've been trying to show defense, hustle, rebounding, blocking shots, what ever I can do to catch their eye.
Doug McDermott (Creighton University)
On being selected to participate in camp:
It is a huge honor, obviously, playing with the best of the best, guys I watch on TV. It's pretty special. I feel like the first day went well. These are a lot of guys I look up to, and I'm ready to make the most of this because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
You looked pretty comfortable out there. Was that the case?
It's just been about playing, and I've been playing in Russia (at the World University Games for USA Basketball), so I feel like I'm in really good shape. That definitely helps because I need every advantage I can get against all of these future all-stars. So, it's pretty cool.
What strengths are you trying to put on display?
I'm trying to focus on knocking down shots, because I'm getting some good open looks, but I also want to be able to defend a three or a four in the NBA, so this is a perfect way to practice, because they are all the best at their positions.
Is this the best competition you've played with and against?
Yeah, hands down. This is as good as it gets right here. It's been a terrific summer with USA Basketball playing against pretty much the best players in the country and the world.