Additional Quotes >> USA 126, Puerto Rico 73
June 19, 2009 - Mendoza, Argentina
USA head coach Don Showalter (Mid-Prairie High School, Iowa)
Were you pleased with the overall team effort against Puerto Rico?
Yes. Coming in we told the kids that Puerto Rico was going to be ready for us because they had to win the game tonight to get into the top two and advance. They hit five out of their first seven threes. After that, it was pretty much our game. I loved our defensive pressure. We played together really well as a team. We had 22 assists. Our team really has found each other on the court. You can tell they really enjoy playing with each other, making the right passes. Obviously we need to step that up tomorrow night, but that was a great way to end up pool play.
What did you tell the team between the first and second quarters?
We had to make a point to them that the game's going to be won on defense. We had to get some stops, we had to get some steals and baskets. Five or six of those guys can really play defense. Right now they're starting to play together on defense, so we're starting to get that team defensive unit that we like. A couple steals, a couple of dunks and the game's out of hand. That's what we were looking for.
On the team's overall performance:
Everybody was making great plays. Brad found his shooting touch in the second half. Brandan came off the bench and played pretty well. Quinn had an outstanding game. Then you bring two really good players off the bench in Sterling and Chasson and it adds to what we're already doing. Our bigs played really well. Andre was active inside and James McAdoo is one of those kids you know you're going to get 10 or 12 rebounds out of and about 17 to 20 points every game. You don't have to wonder about him. I thought all our kids really played well together.
What do you want to work on heading into the semifinals?
Sometimes we lose our focus a little bit. We came out tonight, I don't know if we just weren't real focused or they just hit the big shots, but we need to get some rest and make sure we're ready to go tomorrow night. Our kids, toward the end of this game, we told them where our focus is. We're done with the pool play and now the real action starts. I think they'll be focused and ready to go.
On Canada, the USA's semifinal opponent:
It'll be interesting to see what happens as Canada progresses. They have a lot to gain in this tournament. They have a really good guard and a really good forward who could play on any of these teams. They're going to be a good opponent.
Justin Anderson (Montrose Christian School, Md. / Montross, Va.)
On tonight's game:
It was tough in the beginning. Our starters had to get their legs loose a little bit. Once they got their legs loose, it began to get easier and easier. They're a really good team and they started to shoot threes really well at the beginning of the game, but there's no way a team can shoot like that the whole game. We knew if we kept playing hard we could eventually take them off their feet.
What was the key to the second-quarter run?
Defense is the key to everything. Our offense is going to come for us because we're so athletic and all of us can score. Coach always tells us not to rely on our athleticism, but sometimes we can't help it. Defense played a key role in getting us to the offensive end and we got a really good win.
You looked like you were having a lot of fun out there tonight:
Yes, it was fun. How often do you think they get to see players dunking, throwing alley-oops to each other? It was a lot of fun. We want to put on a show for them. These kids deserve to have fun and see a good show. We tried to make it fun for them, make sure they get their money's worth, and we had a lot of fun doing it.
What have you been doing off the court?
A lot of times we might just pick one room, go in there and just joke around and play with each other the whole time. We all love to joke around and if we were together like this for too long, we might just fight like brothers. That's how it is when you get a bunch of people around you that have one common goal and have a lot of things in common, they tend to love each other. Like brotherly love. That's how it is with us right now. It's a really good experience.
Brad Beal (Chaminade College Prep H.S. / St. Louis, Mo.)
Describe what kind of team Puerto Rico is:
Coach said they're a real scrappy team. They like to get after it and play hard. We had to stick to the game plan, which is: stay calm, make sure we check all of our passes and be real consistent on the offensive end and defensive end.
Do you feel the team chemistry is getting better each game?
Yeah. We've been playing more of like a team every game. We have at least 20 assists every game, so we're doing pretty good.
Did you think the game would turn out like it did?
No. Not at first, because coach said they didn't give up. Toward the end they seemed like they were really giving up on defense so we just kept going at them, kept running up the score.
What do you still need to work on as a team before the next two games?
We need to work on more defense and rebounding more than anything. Our scoring has been awesome. We've been scoring over 100 points a game. So we really just need to work on rebounding and playing defense.
Did anything stand out to you about your team overall against Puerto Rico?
Having fun, more than anything. Everyone was laughing on the court. Everyone had a smile on their face, giving each other high fives after passes and made shots. We were just playing good as a team.
Do you feel better about your shot?
I just have to keep having fun. When I'm missing, I'm not having fun. I just have to keep telling myself to stay relaxed and keep shooting. Have fun with the game.
Brandan Kearney (Southeastern H.S. / Detroit, Mich.)
What kind of team was Puerto Rico?
They were tough at the end, they hit a lot of 3-pointers. They're a very good shooting team and very physical. We made them fizzle out though.
Did you think they would come out strong like they did to start the game?
Oh yeah, I did expect them to come out strong because this was a very important game for them. This was really like a do-or-die game for them. I expected them to come out like that, but I knew that in the second half we were going to finish them off.
What do need to work on in order to win the next two games?
We need to work on every aspect of our game. We need to work on everything. The sky's the limit on everything, we just need to keep getting better.
On the USA team's game overall against Puerto Rico:
Everybody stood out tonight. We were all very unselfish. We've been like that in all the games. That's what we've really been doing well.
You guys looked like you were loose and having fun when you started the run in the second quarter:
Yes, we were having fun, but it was also the defense. We created points off of turnovers. That's what we really need to work on. That fuels our offense.
What have you been doing off the court for fun?
Everything. Just doing what boys do, everything. The conversations, the disagreements, just everything. Everything's just been fun.
James McAdoo (Norfolk Christian H.S. / Norfolk, Va.)
You've been playing well these last three games. Do you think it's because your game suits the international game?
Not really. It's that most of the guys we've been playing against are really small. I don't want to sound cocky, but it's easy to dominate. They're not really explosive so it's easy. As long as you jump higher it's easy to get those rebounds that you might not get against somebody more athletic.
Did you expect Puerto Rico to jump out like they did to start the game?
Yes. Coach told us about how he wanted us to defend the screeners, as far as getting to shooters. So we knew they were going to shoot the ball well and they did. They live by the three and they died by the three.
What did coach Showalter talk to you during the break between the first and second quarters?
The main thing he stressed was not trading baskets. We knew we were going to score on offense. We just had to stop them on defense. We really tightened our belts and stopped them from scoring.
What's the best thing about being on this team?
It's like a brotherhood. I'm going to be really close with these guys for the rest of my life. It's a friendship on and off the court.
On the importance of the USA's depth with five games in five days:
It definitely helps. I didn't play any of the fourth quarter and we still did fine. It's good to have a bench you know that's going to come in and help sustain and help push the lead.
L.J. Rose (Second Baptist School / Houston, Texas)
What was the turning point in tonight's game?
The turning point was in the second quarter when we went on a run. We stuck to the game plan that coach told us about and that's why we executed so well.
How evident is it that defense is the key to your three wins?
It's real evident. They're not scoring as many points as they score on other teams and we're scoring off of our defense. It really helps.
The team looks like it's coming together:
Our chemistry is way better. It's like we've been playing together for years. It's because we're hanging around each other so much in the hotel.
On the team's depth:
Most teams have like five or six players who play the whole game. Our team, all 12 can play at anytime. It really helps.
What have you been doing off the court in Argentina?
We've been going with our translator around the streets, going into the shops, going on the computer and eating McDonald's.