Additional Quotes From Day 1, Men's National Team Training Camp In Chicago
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
What can you take from today about the mindset of the team?
We had hard workouts in Vegas, and they came with the same intensity level today. I was pleasantly surprised at how hard we went today. They went after it today, which is great.
How confident are you that everyone is all in?
Everyone is all in. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t all in. They’ve been all in. These guys love playing for the United States, and they understand that they have a one-month commitment now. And actually, a month from today if things went well, we would be playing for a gold medal in Madrid. But there is a lot to be done, including a really tough game on Saturday against Brazil.
Have you talked with Paul George?
Yeah, well I’ve texted with him. That’s how we talk – new-age people. I’m getting into that mode. My digital conversations were amazing, first of all that he answered me. You know, Paul has been incredible. First of all when he got hurt, just before his operation, after his operation immediately and since then, I don’t know how anyone could have handled it better and with more courage. He has been remarkable, really.
How have things changed tactically now that you don’t have Kevin Durant?
Well, the very first thing is we had a whole camp building what we are doing around him. So, that’s been everything, because you have really one of the great scorer’s at the four, so how does that change your offense, it changes your offense immensely. To do more things -- the second thing, the reaction to the first thing, is you have to do more to get your guards shots. I mean, these guards are really good. We were complimenting one another, Kevin and those guards, with a good inside game, with basically those two (Paul George). Now, we have to look at developing our inside and getting the guards more involved.
If Kevin Durant was going to take 20 shots a game, where do those 20 shots go now?
Well, I’m sure we would have a lot of hands raised to volunteer for them. We have good shooters with Curry and Harden, Klay Thomspon, Korver. We got guys who can put the ball in the basket, it will just be spread, I think. It will be spread out. It’s not like you go to one guy. It’s one of those things, you don’t replace Kevin Durant, you look different. And so, we have today and tomorrow to look different before we play a really good team. That’s of concern for me, because we are pretty far along. We had our best camp ever in Vegas since I’ve coached. Those guys were terrific. We had more in, but we had more in to play a certain way. Kevin deciding not to play, you don’t practice that, we didn’t until we were here. So, it’s concerning. But hopefully we will be good enough on Saturday and then we have New York and Grand Canaria to get better and get better during pool play.
USA assistant coach Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls)
On having Derrick Rose playing for USA Basketball:
I like the idea of him coming back in this setting because the quality and depth is so strong. We are asking all of these guys to sacrifice playing time and sacrifice some shots to play for the team, and so he doesn’t’ have the burden of having to score 25 points and play a lot of minutes. Just go out there and do your job. And that’s what he did in 2010. In the end, no one really cares about how many points you scored or how many rebounds you got. They just want to know did you win. So, it’s a great setting for him. And the way that it has played out, we were in Vegas, and then he had an opportunity to rest for a week and work on his conditioning, and I can see where he had a great day today, so each day has been great improvement. Just take it day-by-day don’t force things, find the rhythm of the game, and I think that is what he is doing. I think that is what he learned form the comeback last season is to be a little more patient. I like the way he is playing on both ends of the floor.
On spending time with Derrick Rose before the season begins:
Derrick is terrific. You guys have been around him. You are not going to find a better guy. Obviously a super star talent, but he is a great guy on top of that. He’s a great teammate, and we are very fortunate to have him here in Chicago. He plays to win he plays for the team. He’s been unfortunate to have the injuries, but I think in the end, those injuries are going to make him a lot stronger. I think he has grown to be a better person. I think he has prepared himself well for the upcoming season.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
So with Kevin withdrawing and with Paul’s injury how has the lineup changed and what adjustments are you guys making?
Obviously with Rudy (Gay) stepping in as another wing guy, we feel we still got the talent and pieces we need to win a gold, it is just a little swapping of positions when it comes to who is going to play the one through four. We got guys who are pretty versatile, that can play a lot of different positions, so we are really strong right now and feel the energy level and the intensity during our practices kind of shows that.
As Coach K just said, in Vegas it was the best camp ever and you guys were really gelling as a team. How long until you reach that level again?
Hopefully soon. I mean, we have a couple of games coming up where we actually can work on executing against teams that really don’t know what we are going to run. In practice everyone knows the plays. And we have a high confidence level right now, so hopefully before we take off for our exhibition games overseas we’ll have enough time to continue to gel as a squad, continue to execute on the floor, learn each other better and be clicking on all cylinders once we get over there.
What do you think about team Brazil? Because I know you are familiar with a few of the guys on that roster.
They are a strong team. They are a big team. Splitter, Varejao, Nene, even Barbosa as well. So we know that they are an experienced team, they have been playing together for a long time. It will be a good test for us right out of the gate to kind of size up where we are. We expect to win, expect to play like it is the world championship so we can get that feeling going as we get overseas.
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
On the first practice in Chicago:
The first practice was fine. It was just like any other practice just more game prepping now. We went over offensive sets and went over what they (Brazil) run. We’re just getting ready to go out there, play our hardest and try to get the W. Even though it’s exhibition, we still want to win every game.
On mindset for international games vs. NBA games:
I don’t see any difference. Other than not pacing myself as much as I would in the NBA, because we got a whole bunch of guys who can play. I just go out there and give it my all, and if I’m tired I ask coach for a blow. We keep it rotating, keep everybody excited and having fun.
Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
What was it like to be back out there?
It was good. You know my old teammate bust my lip, but other than that, other than that, it was pretty cool. It’s good. During the summer you really can’t find much competitive play like this. This is the best place to do it.
Who busted your lip?
The team has been thru a lot the last week-and-a-half, everyone knows what’s going on. What’s your perspective on the mindset?
I think it is more focused. Obviously everybody has it in the back of their mind, it has been kind of the things that have happened recently but, you know, I think guys are still here, still want to win and are still all in.
What kind of shape are you in?
I’m in pretty good shape. Made it through the first practice. I feel good.
Explain the process of this coming together for you (joining training camp).
Actually, it wasn’t after Paul’s injury. Yeah, it was after Kevin but you know it just came to my attention. The owner, Vivek, he contacted me, Chris Mullin, everybody from the team, also my agent. They all really talked me into, into really trying to get back out here and play for USAB.
Looked like you were running with potentially the starters.
Yeah. We don’t know. That is the thing about Coach K. He doesn’t really, he keeps that in his back pocket, you know, until it is go time. But, but you know, whoever it is, whoever starts will be competitive.
How does this help you prepare for NBA season?
I mean, it does, a lot. Obviously with your wind, being coached and you know, just the little things. Getting into game shape and not just your wind-wise, but mentally, you know, when you are going out there competitively trying to win something, you know, it kind of gets your mind in that your state to where you have to be ready, almost like the season.
Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
On the first practice in Chicago:
It was a good practice. We started right where we left off in Vegas. We’re just trying to prepare for Brazil and go from there.
On the excitement building up to Saturday’s game:
I think everybody’s excited. It should be a sellout crowd, and it’s the first time for a lot of us to go against an international team, so I think we’re all thrilled about the opportunity to make the team and play against the world’s best.
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
On the first practice in Chicago:
Today we were just getting back into it with this group. We went over some offensive stuff that we went over in Vegas. We went over some stuff for the game, scouting report type things, pretty much scrimmaged. We went hard. It wasn’t too long. I thought we had a good day.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
On being in Chicago:
It’s kind of hard. It’s different. In Vegas, I usually go back to my room, but being here, in my hometown, you want to say out a little bit more, be on your feet a little bit more, but my goal is to stay off my feet. I’m happy to be in the city. It’s good weather right now, and the city needs this right now.
Was there ever a possibility you thought you wouldn’t be back in Chicago for this phase of the World Cup preparation?
No. In my mind, I always knew I had a legit chance to make the team, and I’m happy that they brought me along. I’m happy that I made the last cuts and just trying to stay positive, like I said. Everyday coming in here and playing with these guys is just giving me an extra boost with my confidence and just letting me know that I’m ready.
Do you feel there is an extra benefit to you to be getting this high level of competition before the season starts?
For sure. Playing, just playing pick up. I don’t play pick up during the summer, so just getting that rhythm. Coming in here knocking that rust off. My biggest thing is not turning over the ball. I didn’t have any turnovers today, and we won a little scrimmage, so I guess I’m doing good.
Does it help you playing in a situation like this, when you are not the star of the team?
For sure. It is going to help my game. It is totally going to help my game, because coming out here, my job is to pick up full court, harass the ball and get guys an open shot. With my team, it’s a little bit more scoring, but out here it’s just knocking down open jump shots, that’s why you saw me shooting after practice a little bit, just set shots and just trying to have that confidence, knowing that if I’m open I get an opportunity to shoot the ball, if not, I can drive and make someone help, so its an easy opportunity for someone else.
Do you feel you have something to prove?
Every time I step on the floor, there is something to prove. I have my own little goals in my head. I got my own little things that motivate me in my head I keep to myself, but every time I step on the floor, I try to produce.
What are this team’s chances at the FIBA Basketball World Cup?
I think we are going to win it if I’m on the team. There is no point of even playing or even playing in this if you are not thinking you are going to win it. So, I think every team is going in with that chip on their shoulder, which you should have that chip on your shoulder playing in something like this. We know that we have a good group, and we got a long way to go.
What will if feel like to play at the United Center?
Fun. It’s going to feel like a Pro Am game a little bit. Everybody’s been talking about it in the city. It seems like it’s a buzz. It’s great what USA Basketball and Nike have been doing around the city with just so many events, keeping people occupied, keeping kids occupied and giving them something to do. And I think it’s going to help the city, and it should bring some light to the city.
What does playing with USA Basketball mean to you?
It means a lot. My game is developing into a controlled game, I think. I’m using my speed whenever need to, and I’m playing a more relaxed game now. So, I think that you will see a mature basketball player out there whenever I play.