Additional Quotes >> USA 98, New Zealand 71
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
Comments about the game:
It was a good solid performance. I thought the intensity was excellent. We were playing against a different offense, that’s a really good offense that New Zealand runs, and it’s a very difficult offense to defend with big guys because everybody is away from the basket. So a couple of the lineups in the second half we had three bigs in at one time, I just wanted to see that, but it’s probably not the type of team to show that against. But overall it was good, we beat a team that really executes well and plays hard every second they are out there. So good response starting this three games in three days.
With regards to Derrick (Rose) you had him on the court in the second half with the starters, and I’m curious why you did that and how you’ll look to handle him with three games in three days.
Well I put him out there because he is one of the best players in the league. Also, he has to get minutes with the guys that are playing more minutes, because he is a guy who should play a lot of minutes. It’s something that I thought about doing before the game, and it worked out that way. I thought Kyrie (Irving) played really well, and I thought Derrick played really well. But I didn’t use them that much together tonight; I wanted to see them separate. But he did well, I thought he moved well and captured some of that chemistry he had in (Las) Vegas with James (Harden) in practices. The two of them when they were on the court together, there’s some really good exchanges.
We saw you face up to the Haka before the game, you’re the first guys to do that in this tournament. Is that because of your understanding what that challenge is about?
We understood it, I actually talked with Kirk (Penney) before the game. We already knew it was out of respect. I said we do respect that, and we were going to shake hands with them after it because we knew that was a really neat thing to do and part of their tradition and we admire that.
When you handed out invitations originally you had a lot of people who could have played Kenneth Faried’s position. Because of withdraws he ends up getting his minutes. What did you see in his game that made you say we need to have this kid on the floor?
Well he plays with amazing energy and really is as good of a rebounder as there is I think. He plays hard every second he’s out there. I think these guys would tell you they love playing with him. He doesn’t need the ball much; he gets the ball for people. Overall from the start of training camp, he’s been the biggest and best surprise and has turned out to be a very, very important player for us. He’s made that happen. We never call a play for him, although we posted him once today, but he did that on his own. He just makes plays. I guess that’s why they call him a player, he makes plays.
How do you see Rose’s play after these three game?
Good. I thought he played his best game here today. He’s moving very fast, he had that one shot go in and out, and then Kenneth put it back in. I like the way he moved and fought through defensively. He doesn’t show any signs of favoring anything. I think he played well today.
Anthony Davis is one of the main leaders like James Harden, and his transition from the Olympic to now can you say a few words about?
Anthony is one of the best players in the world. We saw that developing in the (2012) Olympics, and I think him being around all those great players helped him. Monty (Williams) has done a terrific job coaching him. He’s not only coached him, but he’s developed a great relationship with him.
By the way, I would like to mention one thing about James (Harden), his defense tonight on Penney, was terrific. I thought he and Steph (Curry), people don’t talk about their defense or they talk about their defense in a negative way, they’re busting their butts, and I think they played outstanding defense today, and have. They’ve been playing really good defense.
About the USA’s next opponent the Dominican Republic:
Well Garcia has played lights out here and seems to have found his rhythm and has been a real leader for them. I think they are playing much better then when we played them before, because they are comfortable with one-another and they’ve won here. So we can’t look at them like they were, we have to look at them as they are right now.
The key for us all the time is defense and giving energy, and we did that against New Zealand, and if we do that against Dominican Republic good things happen and it just starts with their energy and defense, and those have been things we have done most of the time except for one half.
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Thoughts on the international game:
It’s been different, something I’m not really used to. It’s definitely taking some time. I’m busting my butt trying to get into the flow of things and get used to this style of play.
What is the biggest challenge in adapting to this style of play?
The speed of it, the way we’re playing. It’s a lot that comes in to it. Like I said, I’m busting my butt trying to getting into the flow of things. All I can do is keep working.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
How is this team similar to Golden State?
It’s similar. We play at a high pace, a fast pace and let the ball move and allow talents to shine. There is a lot of freedom out there to be able to make plays and be aggressive and attack, and that’s the most consistent thing from Golden State to here. Obviously with this all-star line up, it’s pretty fun to go out there and play.
Were you able to see the Spain team play?
No, I saw the score. We can’t worry about Spain right now. We have six more games to get there. We know there team very well, all their players, obviously, we play against most of their top seven or eight during the NBA season. When we get to Madrid down the road, hopefully we will be ready.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
What did the team do well tonight?
Definitely scored the ball, definitely got after it. It was a good test for us. We like playing against good competition, and they were definitely one of those opponents.
What did you think of the Haka dance before the game?
That’s their ritual, that’s what they do. It’s a sign of respect, and we watched them, showing respect.
Have you started thinking about the matchup with Spain?
No. We’re not thinking about Spain right now. We’re worried about this evening’s game, and we’ll worry about tomorrow’s game right now. When we get the chance to play Spain, we’ll worry about them then.
What about the international rules?
It’s definitely tough to adjust to them, especially when you’re playing with different rules all your life. We just got to get accustomed to it. I think we’re traveling a lot where we’re not used to that rule. We just have to keep getting better.
Are you looking forward to going to Barcelona?
We have to worry about closing these games out first, and then worry about Barcelona, and the city and the teams we play when we get there.
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
What was the approach coming out here tonight?
We had to come out more mature. After a 60-point blowout win we had the night before, we kind of came in and ‘ok, this is going to be easy; we can beat any team.’ Turkey really smacked us; they smacked us in the first half. They woke us up and guys knew it’s not going to be easy, and we have to come out each and every game and play our hearts out and give it our all if we want to go get this gold.
Are you still feeling out this group and figuring out everyone’s niche?
Not so much anymore. I think basically guys are figuring it out. Guys know who is going to do what night in and night out, what can you get from certain guys. Guys have come to expect that from people and if you don’t bring it, basically we are going to jump in to you and tell you that you’re not doing your job. That’s the maturity of this group. We can jump into each other and say we’re not doing our job tonight, (and we realize) he’s right, I have to step it up.
Did you spend the off day talking about that as a team?
Yes. We informally talked about everything that needs to be done to go win the gold, and we know what we have to do and we are going to come out and do it each and every night.
What about your opportunity here with USA Basketball?
I love the opportunity here. I get to play with this group of guys every day, have fun. We all have fun each and every day, and we love the game.
You have been one of the team’s leading scorers, which most wouldn’t have expected … why has that happened that way?
Expect the unexpected. I really don’t know. We’re just having fun. We’re playing basketball. Each and every last one of us doesn’t care who scores the ball, as long as we win. We are just trying to get the gold. We don’t care who’s out there scoring, who’s out there rebounding, who’s out there getting steals or the shine and glory. We just want to win games.
You look like you are really enjoying this experience:
Oh yeah, I’m loving this experience, just being out here with this group of guys and playing hard each and every day and it’s just fun. It’s just a big, fun learning experience for me. As the days go on and time goes on, I’m just learning more and more and just being really respectful to the coaches.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Comments about the game:
I think we did a pretty good job of coming out with some intensity. Last game we kind of struggled in the first half. Our pressure wasn’t there. Second half of the last game we picked it up, so Coach K put emphasis on how important it was for us to come out with some intensity and kind of get it going from the beginning, and I think tonight we did.
What was it like playing against New Zealand and as Coach K said their kind of offense?
Their offense is pretty unique, they move the ball very well, so many back cuts, so many flare screens, guys are just constantly moving. It’s a different offense than we’ve ever seen. It was something we got adjusted to pretty quick, guys were active in passing lanes and kind of being aggressive. Coaches emphasized that no matter what offense we see, if our intensity and our pressure are there good things will happen, and I think we came out with that mindset tonight.
The Olympic are the Olympics…is there something special for you about this experience and having move of a leadership role being more experienced this time around?
Yeah I think 2012 really molded me for this moment. That experience right there helped me, learning from those guys, Coach K and all the rest of the coaching staff prepared me for this. I took on the challenge, and I just try to be a leader on the court and help Coach K out. Obviously we have some great talent, so just a little bit here and there, pieces I might add to help some of the other guys out is what I try to do. Everyone works hard, so it makes it easier.
For so many years the guy at your position on the U.S. team was the really superstar scorer on the team and people thought that when Kevin didn’t play it would be you, but it seems like now it’s a team that goes inside out first. Has that been a surprise or disappointment at all that the ball is going more to Anthony or Kenneth then the perimeter guys?
As long as we’re winning that’s all that matters. You don’t really care who’s scoring the basketball, We’ve got 12 guys that score the basketball at any given moment. Tonight and every other night our focus is defense and whoever is scoring the basketball it’s USA points. So any given night a guy could lead the team in scoring and the other guys just follow along, but that’s the beauty of our team.
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Thoughts on the game:
All that matters is getting a W. Whatever way we do it, it’s all that matters. If we have to go inside one game or play through our perimeter, it just depends on what we need at the present moment. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. I know the guys share the same emotion, same thought. Going forward, we’ll game plan but tonight we got a good one against New Zealand.
Was the team focused on a quick start tonight after the bad start against Turkey?
Yeah. Coach was pretty adamant about having an intense focus and getting out to a fast start. We just got to get used to that going forward. Obviously New Zealand is a good team, and we prepared for them as best we could. I think we did a great job of pressuring them on both ends of the floor and coming out with the win.
What are the areas that need most improvement going forward?
It depends on game to game, whatever is needed out there. Going out there and playing hard, whatever I’m needed to do: stop the best player, get as many assists or being aggressive on both ends of the floor, that’s what I’m going to do.
Are you looking to play more minutes?
Whatever is needed at any given moment for coach or the coaching staff or my teammates, I’m willing to do. I’m always going to be a great teammate. I’m always going to support everybody who is playing out there because at the end of the day, this is an opportunity I’m going to cherish for a lifetime. We have so many great guys, so many great players. When we leave here, we go to our respective organizations. This is something that I’m living for, something I’ve dreamt of for a long time, and I’m going to cherish it, so whatever is needed at any given moment, I’m willing to do for these guys.
Is it going to be more difficult when you play better teams with better players?
We have some pretty good players on our team as well. No offense to the other teams, but we’re going to game plan and we’re going to come out with an intense focus. We have a great team as well. Going forward, whatever we need to do to win a ball game, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re all great players. We have a great team, great coaching staff. We’re going to prepare the same way for every team.
Did you enjoy the Haka dance by New Zealand?
It’s just a sign of respect. Obviously we respect them. If it’s part of their culture, then it’s part of it. There are so many different things out here, so many different countries so whatever makes them get ready for a game, I’m just going to sit there and clap for them.
Do you feel better today than the other day?
I’m just going out there and playing. It’s an enjoyable experience. First games I’ve played since April. I’m just happy to be out there with these great players.
Thoughts on the game:
Obviously it was a great win. We came out a lot more aggressive tonight than we did (Sunday night), so I’m happy we made the adjustment. We just go to do that the next two games.
What did the team do better tonight besides just be more aggressive?
Shared the ball, moved on offense, came out with a bunch of energy in the first half.
What did you think of the Haka dance?
It’s cool. I think it’s pretty cool how they do it. I saw it when I was in 19 in Auckland. They’re passionate. They love their country, and I respect them for it. It’s a sign of respect, so we appreciate it.
What are your thoughts on the last two games of pool play?
Both are good teams. Ukraine beat Turkey today, so we can’t take them lightly at all. For us, it’s just taking it one game at a time. We expect to win the gold medal, but we can’t overlook anybody. Like I said, it’s take one game at a time, and we’ll be successful.
Is it tough to play five games in six days?
It is, but at the same time, we’re deep and nobody is playing 35 minutes per game. At most I think someone is playing maybe 20 or 25. We’re young. We’re fresh. We’ve had a few months off, so it’s not too bad. If we just get our rest and eat properly, we should be good.